Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Dead people are singing for me
And in French which, despite
Seven long years of classes,
I cannot understand. (Still,
If ever seized by foreign agents
And smuggled into Occupied
I will be able to contact the Resistance
So long as their password is
Pardon me; do you have cherry tobacco?
Pardonnez-moi; avez-vous tabac
Avec l'air de ceries?

                                      But let us
Get back to the singing dead folk
(Since they are French I guess
I should be returning to our muttons
But I don't like mutton and, once parted,
I would not have the unwisdom
To return). The next room's computer
Decided I wanted to hear Gallic suavity
Rejecting my choice of Brahms'
Double Concerto as too gloomy
For a Sunday morning in spring.
It irks me that it was right.

                                          How pleased
The dead French seem! One of them,
Backed by a full orchestra and a chorus
Of shrill-voiced soubrettes, is now
Singing "Ramona," which my mother
Used to sing, though not in French,
With words she'd make up on the fly.
She had to make do, though,
Without soubrettes. My father
Actually knew the correct lyrics
But preferred the ones she invented.

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