Gorgeous language follows Keats
like a kicked dog down Cockney streets
waving a Technicolor tail
as it snuffles tropes along the trail.
The moon swims near & Fanny comes
Keats-wards through the vital slums.
The dog grows brawny as the time requires
& lifts its leg on passion’s fires
To no avail. Keats at the bar
drinks a Shandy from a pickle jar,
blows a flea from the young girl’s ear
to make sure her auditory nerve is clear
And in a fog of blood-laced breath
invites dear Fanny to assuage his death;
she angles a knee to hide her teeth
& giggles on to Keats’ grief:
“Is Beauty Truth & is Truth Beauty?
“Why should those words do double duty
“when neither is applicable
“in a world of steam, cast iron, steel cable?
“And should a girl bestow her treasure
“on one who writes in common measure:
“a weak-loined, coughing, homely bore
“who tells us: ‘load your rifts with ore’?
“A barber with a steady blade
“can feed & clothe an honest maid
“much better than a poet can
“perform the duties of a modern man.”
Keats rubs his freckled brow, & meekly
drawls a wheeze & drops a tear
“In Italy I’ll mend completely!…”
““But you’ll still be a poet, dear!”
“Farewell, Pure Soul, I’ll find another
“who knows the proper time to write
“is with a pen between the covers
“from dusk to dawn without a light.”
Trotting down an Attic Mile
on toe nails of olive oil & tile:
the small rough dog that scratches, moans,
& gnaws the “pneu” from Grecian bones,
& gives away all that it owns.
Word & image