Saturday, December 10, 2011

Faber Cocktail Party

Faber Cocktail Party
—for Sylvia Plath


These are the poets, then, this great yawning…
Why poetry’s promise remains so dismal.

No lively tangy sherbets, scooped from deep freeze
To chill a girl’s clammy thighs, no strong hands.

Why are they so quiet, what are they hiding?
They have two legs, but do they have a cock?

The stairwell is a good place for them, their
shrunken voices crawling up and down the shaft.

No crutches yet, gumming the muse to death.
The lines on their faces, shiny bald surfaces gleaming

They drink their gin, stare at the flashbulb glare,
Is it any wonder they put on dark glasses?

Is it any wonder they despise Sylvia Plath?
Here she comes now, among the wasteland gatherers

Who lean with their backs against the walls,
Up against a yawning stairwell their poet lives…

The city worships these erudite once young men,
They creep away, snake-headed, long hisses


This black death has no mercy for anybody,
Why should it, it is the hearse of the dead

Big Daddy, dead, toeless foot in the grave,
Who plumbed for honey the honeybee well

The bent boys bulging way up there over him,
Obscenely making love to their girlfriends.

Chests and tits, a confectioner's glaze
Oozing wedding cake, titillating the night

While a green pool seeps thru the dirt,
Sickening how the coffin seems to wait

Limbs, spluge, shrieks. The tombstones
Get sticky as the concrete bunkers groan

O white sea-cocky whitecaps above,
Hushed sighs, salty spermy waves

And the onlooker, trembling,
Patiently waiting for sloppy seconds

Young male virility, such rude virulence,
Grows like a weed, uncut and private


Later in the hotel elevator, they’re glittering,
Poets, poets…in their bright shiny chairs

Tubular steel wheelchairs, aluminum walkers
Such determined muses. Why should I walk either?

Inside this elevator, spotty with barnacles?
I’m not a nurse, but something seems wrong

The elevator just keeps going further down,
Floor after floor, even past the bargain basement!

Poets are crying out, we’re going subterranean,
My bandages are hurting, my red ribs are showing

My nerves are shot like my poor eardrums,
Surely the surgeon will hurry up and save us?

A facet of knowledge penetrates my brain,
I’m on this bare stripped mattress in one room

An old man is vanishing, there’s no help, no
Weeping wife to kiss away the sapphires of ash


A lovely little wedding-cake secret thrill,
How exquisitely superior I’m beginning to feel

It’s like being possessed by a saint,
Nurses in their wing-caps are flying away

I’m browning now, like touched gardenias,
The bed is rolling back against the wall.

This is what it feels like to be complete,
But am I wearing pajamas or an evening suit?

Under the started sheets, I’m waiting patiently
They’ve propped my jaw with a book until it stiffens

My hands are folded, they no longer shake,
Goodbye, goodbye, the pillow cases smell sweet

Now the washed sheets fly in the sun,
The curtains are blowing out the window

The long coffin of soap-colored oak,
Engraving itself with calm silver signatures


The gray sky lowers, the sea like green soup,
The pallbearer poets fold into each other at last

Elliot the drowned man thinks of his gone lover,
The Wasteland of WWI and him drowning in France

Auden thinks of his lost Austrian farmhouse,
Doing crossword puzzles with Chester Kallman

Louis MacNeice, Ted Hughes, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden
And Stephen Spender at the Faber cocktail party

Full of dresses & hats & china & married daughters,
In the parlor of the stone house down by the dead sea

One curtain is flickering from the open window,
Flickering and waving one last pitiful goodbye

This is the tongue of the dead poet: swollen and
Black, he can no longer remember, remember

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