Went out one day to poke around,
Met Sheriff John Bailey and blowed him down.
Went back home to watch TV
With my 9-millimetre right next to me.
I got to thinking ‘bout the deed I done,
But after a while, it didn’t bother me none.
Then I remembered John’s deputy,
So I made a packed lunch, took a lid of tea,
And I headed on out for Hollywood.
I was feeling fine, I was looking good,
Till steam came pouring from the radiator,
And I said some things I was ashamed of later.
I got out the car to see what was wrong,
Out in the brush I heard the coyote’s song.
It sent a hot chill clean through my soul
When I seen the red flash of the highway patrol.
I grabbed my lunch pail and grabbed my gat,
In the rush almost forgot my hat.
Plunging deep into the purple sage,
I stomped on a rattler, sent him in a rage.
Lady Luck done tickled my spine,
Cos when I reached the Pacific line,
A long old drag was a-crawling by,
But when I jumped on, she begun to fly.
I stretched out for to take my ease,
Ate a good sandwich of American cheese.
Washed it all down with warm Perrier,
Then lit a fat spliff in my usual way.
Stars started twinkling pretty in the sky,
A new moon was rising and so was I.
Took my harp from my greasy bandanna
And tossed them both into the dark savannah.
The long arms of Morpheus dragged me deep,
As I settled down for a well-earned sleep.
Just before dawn, I had this crazy dream
Of a beautiful maiden in a mountain stream.
She beckoned me with great eyes of flame,
Chanting over and over this oneiric name -
‘Oh Theo, my Theo, dreadful glad, Theobald.’
Don’t know what she meant - that aint what I’m called.
I woke to the sound of the whistle’s shriek,
Stiff as two corpses, in need of a leak.
That’s one thing I don’t plan to try again -
Emptying my bladder from a moving train.
Jumped off at a ghost town called Yasgar’s Blot,
Hitched me a ride on a passing yacht.
Skipper wants to know if I can cook,
So I give her a smile that says ‘recipe book’.
She wants to commit a great culinary sin:
Wants to taste sautéed mermaid fin.
So she asks, What d’you think of that?
And I give her a lecture on saturated fat.
She laughs with the laughter of ecstasy,
Peels off her skin and hands it to me.
I follow her jig as she heads below decks,
And together we play raising sunken wrecks.
I guess you’re still wondering the reason why
In cold blood young Johnny had to die.
Weren’t no choice but to take his life -
He’d been kissing n’ cuddling my darling wife.
She’s still stinking up the house, I guess,
Sprawled on the bed in my favourite dress.
I did reminisce about her one time,
Deliquescing into a pool of slime.
And before you ask – I don’t feel no remorse:
Aint no different from when you shoot a horse
To put the creature out of its misery.
The only difference is the creature’s me.
Went out one day just to poke around,
Met Sheriff John Bailey and I shot him down.
Well, I used to have a moral for this sad song,
But now I clean forgot, cos it’s took so long.
…Smiling, His Eminence brushes my cheek.
With a slur of drink and lingering reek
Of lamb, he whispers me nearer: ‘But we
Understand the true meaning of beauty.
That the deeper, the real soul of great art
Is revealed only to those…pure in heart.
I would like you to paint me a touching scene
Of summer at her most tenderly green,
In a leafy wood, by a limpid pool,
With a splash of boys playing the fool.
A couple tussling, while some take the sun.
In the lake, two others absorbed in fun.
Now, you see my page, yon Pietro there,
With that angelic head of long blonde hair,
So fair of face, not to mention limb…
If it please you, then you must capture him.
Let him be one of the wrestling pair,
With Luka, my valet, him - on the stair.
Be sure to render those long slender shanks:
Smoother they are than two fresh-polished planks.
He’s wet from the lake, skin dripping and cool,
Glistening with drops, like some sparkling jewel.
Let the younger boy pose, supine, beneath,
A scarlet apple twixt still perfect teeth,
With the valet above, gripping him tight,
Slowly descending, preparing to bite.
All has to be in the nicest detail
To show the nobility of the male
Form, created by God in his wisdom,
Us to save from infinite tedium.
First, sketch some studies that I may peruse:
A drawing, too, can distract and amuse.
All will be for my private collection,
So modesty won’t require protection:
To paint the beauty of blossoming youth
‘s your duty: naught, boy, but the Naked Truth.’
He places his silk-gloved hand on my thigh,
Drains his glass, holds me eye, sighs a long sigh,
Says, ‘I’m too tired to talk of a fee
Now. And money’s so vulgar. You agree?
Shake a leg there, my boys, it’s time to go…
Naturally, you will be discrete, I know.
I’ll handle the matter personally:
Don’t speak of this to my secretary.
To show good faith, I’ll lend you my page:
Remarkably artful, given his age.’
His Eminence winks, the door loudly slams,
And there grins the lad, perched on his pert hams.
As he draws closer, eyes glowing like wine,
The candlelight on his face is divine.
Thus, when he falls as in prayer to his knees,
I cry out, ‘Perfect, Pietro! Now, freeze.’
Wise King Suibhne fly to me
From you may I learn
To soar and plummet like the sea
Teach me the song the starling sings
Startling the beards of barley
Teach me the tale of your freckled wings
With your eye like an owl’s bright as a marley
Aglint like a flint struck by the sickle moon
Twinkling like the stars that summer brings
Teach me the rainharp’s liquid melody
That beads our feathers when the thunder rings
Teach me to dance the wild winds and mild
Steady airs reeling gusts meanderings merry
Through the waving heather through the eggshell sky
Trilling and whistling and warbling as a child
Wise King Suibhne fly with me fly
To where the eye holds the land from Cork to Donegal
To where the earth grows as small as a Hurley ball
No bigger than a rosehip in the ruddy fall
Than the hairy seeds
The world remains unfinished,
Fuzzy around the edge.
You can see it in this puzzle,
In the tangle in your hedge.
The cosmos is incomplete,
Yet there are no missing pieces
That were lost in translation
Down in the cracks and creases.
Reality’s a fraction
Quite irrational as pi.
It’s ragged, it’s in tatters,
Like clouds torn in your eye.
Things don’t quite hang together,
And there’s no centre that won’t hold.
The crow rocks on the wire.
As the wind, its blood is cold.
SPIRIT AND FLESH
Spirit and flesh grow weary of each other.
Spirit and flesh begin to wander apart.
Each to the other seems part of another
With which it cannot be united by love, magic or art.
Nothing can arrest this inevitable fission,
Although nothing will arrest the illusion of time.
This now is merely a point of transition
As the final break brings fusion sublime.
Aswim with a school of endolphins,
We’re all of us learning to fly -
It’s only by flapping your elfins
You’re ever going to get high.
One is dressed up as tomorrow,
Another a harlequin clown.
The last one says, “We will borrow
The river that ribbons through town.”
After woods, we’re off for a funning,
Lots of bright prospects on top.
Once that river is up and running,
She’ll never know where to stop.
I went to sit by the old oak tree
Into her arms she lifted me
She raised me up until I could see
The fat land all around
She lifted me up beyond the sky
I never knew I could get so high
And there below all in my eye
Lay the fat land all around
When she raised me past the sun
I saw her magic had just begun
She showed that I and my lust were one
For the fat land all around
So I was crowned with a starry crown
Then gently tender she lowered me down
Beneath lay the lights of the sparkling town
In the fat land all around
And in the midnight moonlight brave
I gave the sweet oak a final wave
Then sought out all the desire I crave
From the fat land all around
THE NEW PIANO
Up at the big house they bought a piano:
Pat smashed his hand while unloading the cart.
Now the new Mistress is pining with sorrow
From playing an air that’s broken her heart.
An ash fire is burning bright at the mansion
In the room where they keep the fine baby grand.
The Master holds forth on his plans for expansion.
Doyle whispers to Boylan, ‘It looks second-hand.’
While, up above, in the dim master bedroom,
Tears course the Mistress’ cheeks smooth as silk.
Indeed, her face is so soft you’d assume
She bathes it each day in wild ass’s milk.
But rough men and weather can take their toll
If you lack the hands of a squire’s wife,
And the Mistress possesses a fragile soul,
Wanting the strength for the hard country life.
The Master complains how he can’t understand,
And he calls her skiver and shirker.
He’s always threatening to take her in hand
Like some common tenant or worker.
Now she shudders across to the window,
Trembling hands lifting velvet aside.
In the stew frozen, the moon’s icy glow
She sees as a teardrop by some goddess cried.
The bright gleam of the moonlight’s inspiring,
Resolution now burns through her veins.
And with herself she sets to conspiring
To break free the next day from His chains.
But then, surveying the Master’s estate,
With hands clasped to her breast as in prayer,
She rethinks, I’m young, but he’ll soon be late:
I can abide to become his sole heir.
At that happy moment, Big Mick appears,
A strapping hung taig from the village.
He calls up, Mistress, will I dry your tears?
She laughs, Aye, let’s play rapine and pillage.
Mick’s spud-brown teeth tug down her garter,
As if they’d practised a few times before.
Below, Doyle mangles the Moonlight Sonata,
As sudden light floods the polished oak floor.
The scarab rocks on its carapace,
Legs waving in frantic prayer,
The perfect picture of love,
Which leaves all as it was,
Untouched by the will,
Unwarmed by desire.
How distance contracts
Or collapses or merely ceases to be.
A breeze flips the beetle.
Its metallic back cradled in shade,
It pauses as if in wonder
At life’s whimsy, then waddles
Into the hollow of the banyan tree.
See - poetry sets even insects free.
YEATS STANDS A ROUND
Mystics babble by streams at moons and stars,
Preaching timely disasters, casting charms
With whiskey and porter in smoking bars,
Proposing a lock-in and calls to arms;
Upbraiding history with a well-turned curse,
Heroes of legend instead invoking;
Turning defeat into drama and verse,
Art, and thus the ancient curse revoking.
By the alchemy of myth and liquor
Time may be transformed, this tragedy too,
Into golden hours that go no quicker,
It would seem, than a stopped clock’s hands can do.
Though visionaries chant, ‘Away with borders’,
Still the stout landlord bellows, ‘Last orders’.