V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics



BLACK CORSAGE (1880-1918)

Now that my idle life has reached its end 
     Scooped out like a pearl from the mess I've been
Inclined to think unkindly is our age's church 
     I can address you at last without offense
Without shrouding us both in circumstance
     And that flower you cautioned I never touch
I now wear on my sleeve like a black corsage
     Stinking of sickrooms camphor and rage

And since I dwell among those ineffable things 
     Which you in your ignorance call nothings 
I suppose nothing is what you'll make of this
     More's the pity for whenever you come 
To weigh in your palm some vague impression
     Of the world beyond you'll remember it as 
A continuo of what you'd feared most
     In the manuscripts Europe fed the host 

Of choiring flames the fire-cure of oblivion
     That can never be doused or forgotten
Never be banked to silence no you must begin 
     To accustom yourselves as I've done here 
To this bracketed absence (Guillaume Apollinaire)
     To this ungloved handshake I hope extends
Beyond the one unkindness you won't forgive
     My undying my reader my sweet revenge

© by Sherod Santos


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