Augustus Young       light verse, poetry and prose
a webzine of new and unpublished work

Idiot Chagrins

Verlaine Inhales Rimbaud’s Last Breathe(1891)  

I had to get out
of the house. The bar
was as bad as you could get.
Drunks shouting their heads off,
artists fixing for a fight. Just like old times.
I’m at peace here. Other people absorb my rage.
The gross blond of our nightmares,
the Fuseli succubus, is now a Renoir.
La vie vrai is cut short. And I neglect my drink. 
I’m reading a letter about the death of Rimbaud
from his sister. Of course it wasn’t to me.
Mallarmé took pity. I’m only a PS.
All he wanted was to get back to Aden
to his African friends, ‘unfinished business’,
and to be able to stride out in the midday sun
(on one leg?). It was as though the past did not exist
and the future was the present. As it was in the end.
The pain was such that there was nothing else.
In Paris his poems make mine unnecessary.
I, who grazed his wrong hand with my worst shot.
As an artist I always aimed to miss. But this time
he declared himself left-handed, and gave up poetry.
In his memory I think beautiful
thoughts of elsewhere. Anywhere but here.
Absinthe is wormwood. I’m a deadly warning.
An Irish poet envies me for my vice. I’m a living
statue for the tourists, and shameless as the bird
droppings that blotch my balding plate. The gold in
his eyes was to lighten the horizon to establish trading routes
between rugged reality and the True Life. His last breath said ‘Suez’.

‘Anywhere Out of the World’ 
(Edgar Allan Poe)

After Baudelaire
‘Life is a hospital where the sick are possessed by a desire to change beds.  One would like to suffer behind the stove, another thinks he would recover if he were near the window.
‘It seems to me I’d always feel better where I am not. The question of changing where I am is one I discuss incessantly with my soul. 
‘My poor chilly thing’, I say. ‘What would you think of moving to Lisbon? It’s warm there and soon you’d be as frisky as a lizard. It’s a city on the water, built of marble and the people hate vegetation so much they uprooted all the trees. There’s a place to your taste, pal. A prospect of mineral perfection with water to mirror the light.’
‘My soul says nothing.  
‘‘Since you’re fond of peace and quiet as long as you have something to observe, maybe Holland would make more sense? You’ve seen all the pictures in the art galleries. Or Rotterdam? You who love forests of masts and ships moored right beside the houses.’  
‘My soul remains silent.
‘Bavaria? European but wedded to an exotic beauty.’
‘Not a word.
‘My soul, are you still there? Or too numb to enjoy even your misery? If so, we must go to somewhere that isn’t dead. Let’s pack our bags for Torneo or the further reaches of the Baltic. Somewhere far away from life. We could set up house at the North Pole. The sun barely touches it, day and night are the same, and so total monotony dwells there. It’s the other side of Nothingness. There we can plunge ourselves in darkness while, from time to time, surfacing to note the aurora borealis, a roseate wreath which mirrors itself like fireworks in hell.’
‘At last, my soul explodes, and cries out, ‘Anywhere, but here.’    

Killing the Goose

From the Early Irish: Maidin inne marraigh me gé

J’ai tué une oie grosse.
En anglais ca s’appele goose.
Le couteau était aigu.
Je m’ai fait couper un pouce.
(Yesterday morning
I sharpened my knife
to kill a fine goose
and cut off my finger).

Rimbaud’s Lost Poems

These are the lines he liked to quote
on route marches into the unknown.
‘I claimed other’s work as my own.
 I am and never was a poet.’  
The poems were dictated to me
by the order of the angels,
fallen ones, and it’s just as well.
I couldn’t sing for the heavenly.
I have no time for higher things.
Only for those who fall to earth
with flowing gowns, but without wings,
and raise dust when they hit the dirt.
I hear their words from night to morn.
Sometimes tracing their unholy writ
in the sand where there’s no bullshit.
They’re erased by a desert-storm. 

Interim Stop

Schopenhauer for Beginners
Elsewhere is all in the mind. Forget it.
You are here, a terrestrial body
that responds to touch. You inhabit
the living centre of infinity,
a fixed point that’s neither here nor there,
and puts time in its place for space to share.
Enjoy the quiet moment. It stands still
but moves within itself like a kiss.
Life is daydream not a sleep. The will
to wake and face reality as it is
keeps you going till a transplant is needed.
And your tender ego is superseded.
The light at the tunnel’s end will go dead
if you forget that it’s all in your head.

Billard/ Billiards

The French for billiards is singular.
A one ball pot. Anglophones go for
the plural, scattering the balls
like stars in a galaxy that’s not
known to the naked eye. Avatar
of games. Not a sport, a job lot.
Only the cue can know where you are.
In the chaos, the baize cries out ‘good shot’.
In France the order of the game calls
for hats in the air, ‘Chapeaux, mon gar’.