“Paris is all balled up and they never do straighten it out.”
(the boy in “My Old Man”)
“Remove you hence: I knew you at the first / You were a moveable.”
(Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew)
Swords drawn, Hem and his bronze friend
fiascoing toward their relative glories, Byronic
in their Napoleonic escape coaches, O, how they
needed the cheerful, snug sylvandom, where the dead were
only a little and even the un-
publishable could borrow to their heart’s content wars
and pieces, Logos of Gogol, indeed whole rafts
of Russians, and beaucoup randy Brits.
Always wondering toward Weavergeld and the Hogwarts Press
gliding poor-mouthing on Wife One’s resented
wampum, two-room flatting, chamberpotting, running
only cold over radishes and endive,
and—on good days—apple tarting. “We’ve
always been lucky,” Hem hawed, but forgot
the flat was full of cockeyed wood, kept unknocked.
The Seine, unflooded—ergo unlike my limping
lonely time there—was—how could it have been?—
good for fishing! Old men with cane poles,
little strips of the finny breed, fried, chewed the mini-
bonehouse, hands and feet so to speak,
litre of wine, armpit of pain, and thou—one thou or another.
Though irritated by Ez bassooning, later Papa
helped haul out the crazy please, the gravy plea . . .
So much trueness! Sentences true as a good arrow
fledged in the friendly esophagus, true as a bitten hand.
Mid-sixties Paris haunted by ghostly stegosauruses, so many
I had not thought spite had undone so many . . .
double rows of pen knives, pocket knives, bread knives,
no back left unstabbed. O saw my leg off in the sawmill!
Twain might have yelped.
Paris present, full of sightseers turning
their heads like goats, is hard-covered, well-bound,
its pictures many and Hem-good, furtively,
arrogantly slipped between the books stalling along the river . . .
But how? Ducking tugs chugging, God knows
what flamboyant effluvia churning near the Louvre . . .
Let’s say it is bitterly condescending satire, veined
with Wildean comedy, like fat in a tough steak.
If the cultivated reader prefers, these lines may be con-
That Hem was a swell guy. But I dont know. Seems like
when he gets started crocheting he dont leave nobody nothing.