Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cleaving Pessoa

Maritime Ode
—for Fernando Pessoa

Alone—on the deserted dock
Nausea—and the summer evening
Wanting to vomit—sick of the sea

And past the sandbar—a steamer
Snaking its way home—to me
A trail of smoke—slithering behind it

My hangover tells me—I’m dead
The seagoing sense—the stench
Rotting old dock—slimy stinking fish

There’s no happy mystery—to death
Sharks come and go—and bottom fish
No time for nostalgia—who cares

Shades come and go—and dead poets
Who knows why—who cares
The sun’s slanting rays—over Lisbon

The changing light—over Portugal
Holding on to the railing—looking down
A dead seagull’s—ogling eyeball

Who cares—my weak sisters
My haughty—gay Heteronyms
Pompous doubles—of the Closet

The fading light—full of dread
Suddenly—I’ve become myself
Who knows me—who cares

The steamer—sailing home
The ancient city—without tears
Lesbos Lisbon—Diva of the Night

The only thing I want—the steamer
The dark young one—on board the ship
The Portuguese youth—who avoids me

And yet here I am—waiting for him
Lisbon wants him too—more than me
Seagulls overhead—a mauve sunset

To live this way—always on edge
So immediate—like all of Europe
On the verge—of World War II

Guernica Spain—stunned by bombs
Picasso paints—screaming Stukas
Jellyfish guts—sticks to my shoes

Who knows—who cares
Berlin, Baghdad—Buenos Aires
Borges shrugs—Big Business smirks

So much—for New Orleans
So much—for Argentina USA
Vomiting my guts—into the sea

Staterooms, dining rooms—holds below
Young sailor cordage—gangway gauchos
Is this what—I’m waiting for

Nostalgic soirees—young sailors
Home from—oceanic solitudes
All too knowing—Atlantic interludes

I will know—when he says No
Straits, bays—gulfs between us
Keels, masts, sails—buried treasure

Top sails, pennants—tight hatchways
Boilers, engine sumps—pumping
Through him—teenage sunsets

Locker rooms—spilling out
Sunken treasures—broken oars
Tramp steamers—so nerve-wracking

A chance whistle—on the river
Makes me—weak in the knees
Getting seasick—thinking about him

How many times—did I go down
Drowning in his—bored arms
Titanic sinking—Band playing on

None of this—means anything
Even when—he shrugs okay
When no whores—are around

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