Elegy for a Fleeting Smile
The girl with the beautiful face is moving.
The children are getting too big
for the apartment, and her lot in life's improving.
She's kicked out the impossible sportif,
and got herself a papa with a house.
I'll miss her light step on the street
when she comes out at bedtime for a smoke.
The dog runs rings about her feet.
She smiles at me when it bow wows,
and blushes when she's with a new bloke.
A nod is as good as a wink. So I respond
to her almond eyes in their cheekbones' bower,
the orange blossom reflected in a pond
of goldfish and lilies in full flower.
I like to write my poems at this hour.
Modigliani would have loved her into art:
and Picasso turned her inside out with a knife.
A child could draw her face shaped like a heart.
I'd prefer her frimousse spared for life,
and our proxy encounters to resume.
But when I go out as usual to star gaze,
I find I'm face to face with the moon,
a perfect blank. It's only a phase.
Soon in the Milky Way there she'll be,
a heavenly body that lightly touches me.
Why so poetical about flesh and blood?
I should be happy that she's settling down
in a family home somewhere in Perpignan Sud
with his maman who childminds, cleans and cooks.
A life commensurate with her good looks.
Baratine In Café La France
Barflies have no need to speak.
They know what the other thinks.
When Being and Nothingness sinks
in, it's time to take a leak.
Warming to a thought, they sit.
If cooling, they stand and drink
in the atmosphere at the zinc
till there's no doubt about it.
The silence deepens. One might
stamp out, the other stays put.
If there's going to be a fight
the télé's turned down to mute.
Then all hell breaks loose. The creak
of a barstool. A match struck.
The soft drip of a tap leak
amplifies to a gluck gluck.
Midnight Mass, The Port of Venus
Et verbum caro factum est*
The choir of Our Lady of Good News is bad.
The average age is about three score and ten.
But they sing their hearts out, exceedingly glad,
as the widow women and the widowed men
consecrate who next year will be their main squeeze.
All's sweetness and light, and on earth there is peace.
And together they partake in communion
'Libera nos a malo'** is sung in tune then.
*And the word is made flesh
**Deliver us from evil
An empty seat before the blank télé.
The room is a Marie Celeste and smelly.
You'll find him in his bed dead asleep.
The human condition in a heap.
I wish life was always as superficial.
While surfing in your dreams all is well.
Grandma White's Power Walk
So firmly placed on the ground that she owns,
mother hen moves along at a pig's trot.
The sway of her hips is matter of fact.
Enough Whites to go on with. In good hands
too, but one wears knitted gloves to be sure.
The shoes are no nonsense, leather, oxfords.
The further up she goes the thinner she gets.
That accounts for the wide-brimmed hat turned down.
Her hair's not going to disappear, quite yet,
but the horn-rimmed glasses are a trompe l'œil.
Nothing is missed. Her vision is lateral.
'How's everything', she says without stopping.
'All's right with the world if you don't complain.'
My answer wafts in her wake and is lost.
Still it's a given between sensible people.
'Not having a soul is out of the question',
she once told me. And I believe her. Though mine
is not so rhetorical. I hear bells,
and wonder is she's making for the Church.
The Snow Man
My mind's up the wall. The roof is leaking.
A screaming neighbour's knocking on the door.
I can't find the key. She weeps through the lock.
'My husband is dying. The phone lines are down.'
We get him through my window. The snow's a foot deep.
While she uses my mobile, I thump him on the chest.
He vomits slightly and kicks me in the face.
The pompiers wrench the door off its hinges,
stretcher him off, but he dies on the way.
That was this morning. Now the snow's melted.
The widow no doubt's in the arms of the priest.
I've lost some teeth, and I'll have to pay
the bill for the call out, and the plumber hasn't come.
But it's not the end of the world, as for some.
The evil-looking clochard that the gendarmes
have failed to move on, has made himself a shelter
for his mobile world under Victor Hugo,
in the shade of the semaphore offices.
His sleeping bag is the ruins of a tent
rustled from the Children of Don Quixote.
A hairy head and ragged boots stick out.
The street light throws a rusty glow on the sprawl
of carrier bags where there must be a dog.
His primus bubbles at the foot of the pyre.
A radio plays his gipsy jazz rather loudly
but there's nobody around. And I don't complain.
Siphoning wine Spanish style from a bidon.
The toes dance through the holes in his stockings.