To get the atmosphere right, John
Distinguished Canadian poet and pornographer,
Travelled from 1966 to 1935 to write his memoirs.
He took a room a few blocks away
From the hospital where his younger self
Was convinced he was dying. He visited himself
One afternoon and made terrible prophecies:
"You will be mayor of a small town in East Quebec;
You will win the Governor General's Award for poetry."
"Tell me," young John gasped, "tell me that I will still
Write highly stylized fetish poems and novels!"
"You will; they will be published under many pseudonyms."
"All right then; I suppose I will have to live."
I tried to send my humble respects
To an empress I know
But my computer feels
Etiquette is its younger brother.
"You mean 'hair mumbles' " it says.
Perhaps I do. At any event,
Whatever hair mumbles are
The empress shall have some.
Books I might have written
Haunt me, their well-bound ghosts
Glaring at me from lengthy footnotes
Where I'm not cited or forcing a few words
Into the middle of a quote in some language
I never learned. To quiet them,
I conjured down Jorge Luis Borges
Begging him to write a review
He agreed, after warning me
That it might not be favorable.
St. Marina, patron of exiles and
Is irate that Gelasius called her apocryphal
"So what if I was once a sea goddess?
Next to no one worshipped me.
I admit I was eaten by a dragon; but that
Was such a long time ago. I was young and looked
Delicious. It could have happened to anyone."
Returning triumphantly to her
The Countess discovered her characters
Had decamped while she was out
Leaving behind an old nursemaid
Too feeble to survive the long trek
To a more lurid manuscript.
Originally meant to add some local color
The nursemaid was scheduled to die
Movingly, towards the end of Chapter 6.
Still, necessity knows no law;
A grumbling miracle was performed;
The nursemaid, risen from her deathbed,
(Her disease turning out to be misdiagnosed
Dutch Elm Tree Blight), did her best
As heroine. The hired ghost of Warren Oates
Did yeoman service as the hero, the villain,
The villain's much-betrayed wife,
And a variety of more minor roles
Sales were surprisingly strong.
After a while Schrödinger could no
longer bear the suspense
And opened the box to see if his cat, which had been
Neither dead nor not dead, neither alive
Nor not alive, had made up her mind. The box was empty
Save for a note in Sanskrit. Translated it said
"You forgot the other set of alternatives -- in the box
Or out of the box. I am now both in and not in your closet
Where I am and am not taking my revenge
On your best pair of shoes."
Partly in jest, my father once
Described my mother as a beautiful spy
Fluent in many languages; if we found out
Where they were spoken she would prove
Invaluable. It seems to me that the baby
Who has taken to hanging around here
Might have understood her perfectly;
Almost five months old, she orates at length
And then pauses. If I had my mother's gift
I would nod and eloquently reply.
One day Verlaine's mother saw
That a ringer had slipped in
Among the bottles where she kept
Her four unborn sons.
The bottles all looked the same
Their inhabitants staring as usual.
When Verlaine reeled home
He confessed he'd pawned one of his brothers
But, finding himself in funds again,
Had returned to redeem him
Only to find the pawnshop clerk
Offering him two labelless bottles;
He brought both of them home.
"But surely you noticed one was a girl?"
"I am the drunken glory of French poetry
And, as such, need not pay taxes
Or concern myself with infant genitalia."
The Lvoviner dreamed sometimes
Of trolleys running to Ebbets Field
When he woke up he would ask
The Prince of Fire, who'd come by
From God knows where to smoke,
What a trolley might be,
Who Ebbet was and what sort of things
Might be found in his field.
The Prince would light his short pipe,
Take between one and four puffs
And explain. "Trolleys are female trolls
Big and very strong but kindly
In the future they will make a living
By charging a small coin
To carry children long distances.
Ebbet is not a man but a sort of tree
Which bears four different fruits.
Someday the trolleys will carry children
To a field filled with leafy
Early on summer mornings and watch them
As they run around all day or climb the trees
It late afternoon, the trolleys
Willtake the sleepy children home in
His pipe finished, the Prince of Fire
Would say good night and go off
To God knows where. The Lvoviner's cat,
Stretching, might say "Do you believe him?"
"Not a word," the Lvoviner would answer,
"But to be the Prince of Fire is hard
And sometimes he needs to talk."
Being possessed of great style
As well as being a chthonic god
The Baron does not show surprise
When I introduce the baby to him
Though he shakes his pale head
"If I were in dire straits," he says
"It is just possible that I might wear
An orange striped stretchy
Stippled with pumpkins. But never --
No, never! -- would I also have on
Fuzzy pink socks."
Reports that a baby girl
Has been hanging around my house
Are true. The public is urged
To stay calm. My crack team of advisers
Believe she is, at for the moment,
Using her formidable powers
To learn how to sit upright
And presents no immediate danger.