—for Marshall & Christopher

“with his box of lucky books/
And all the jokes of learning.”
—W.H. Auden

Academe is so near—
the roots of the college garden
still speak the language of feeling

Yet the Tower by the river—
still runs to the sea and will run
despite the university poets

When Chester Kallman—
left him for the handsome
Greek soldiers Auden wept

No longer did Austria—
their countryside bungalow
provide gay joy & sustenance

For the British Muse to—
be witty and debonair and
sophisticatedly Moderne

The sins of Kallman—
were okay in New York City
but could love survive?

When Kallman haunted—
the Acropolis in moonlight
sucking off the Athens elite?

The stones in that Tower—
were utterly and completely
destroyed by ultimate betrayal

The sin of accidental love—
could Auden find it again like
in Key West and Austria?

But Oxford had changed—
the nervous students with 
their careless male beauty

Were no longer charmed—
by Auden’s once tres erudite 
bland hymns to domesticity

Instead the Oxford faculty—
raised their noses at teatime
when Auden opined as usual

His single error was his—
belief that the quadrangles
of Oxford were Eternal

That his countless faults—
would be overlooked with his
vast past poetic publications

Did not the Stones echo—
the sharp sword of all his
glittering service to the Muse?

The cars, hotels, service—
the boisterous beds, the power of
Words outraging the Testaments?

Whispering to chauffeurs & gods—
to tourists and dons that knowledge is
conceived in a hot womb of violence

That in the late hour of apprehension—
There is an exhaustion that strains the
weeping blue-eyed darling’s head?

And is not the child happy with his—
box of lucky books & jokes of learning? 
can one grieve wisdom & still be wise?

Often, often Love is denied—
so much for the beautiful or good
when your heart’s a crossword puzzle?

A cigarette comforts the guilty—
and a kiss comforts the weak they say
but I still miss Chester Kallman my lover

Thousands fidget and poke and spend—
their time & money on eros paidagogos
weeping for the virginal bed once again

Ah, but here I am at Oxford—
sorrow has snatched my loving sensual 
heart and eros surely hates me, dears

Your Mother isn’t ready for this Oxford—
this talkative City weeping with the cool
calm of non-attached Angels of Death

The knowledge of death I’m ready for—
but the loss of all-consuming love is when
the natural heart refuses to beat anymore

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