Remember the poet Horace   –
When he raised a toast of ‘Emperor Reserve’
Caecuban wine
It came from those same vineyards
High above volcanic slopes
His father had once tended as a slave!   –
Before he gained the right of ‘Citizen’
To train his vine to wealth in civic freedom

But let us seek secluded shade   –
Toasting Horace in a rough clay cup
Of ‘Ombra’   –   unpretentious country wine
Combining by its name both ‘man’ and ‘shadow’
Shedding insight fit for two-faced Fortune   –

That we might greet adversity as evenly disposed
As small wins on the lottery or fluctuating fame
For this is certain   –   any father’s son
One day will die and then become
Indifferent as this world

Although stoned spacemen
Line-dance on the moon
To sing ‘God Bless America’   –
In romper-suits of silver
To ‘frug’ with ‘Funkadelic’
Forward for mankind

Too soon it is ‘goodbye’…Farewell
The modest flat in town   the ocean yacht
The haunted country pile   the heated pool
The membership of highbrow this and that
The basement spa still flouting planning law   –
The nurse’s violet eyes once candidly sincere
Are now discreet and softly turned elsewhere   –

Tall pine and poplars lend their elegiac shade
To cinema outdoors at The Borghese
Gardens where ‘bohemien ragazzi’ of stoned Rome
Ditched home-grown Pivano and Pavese
To swallow ‘broken English’ from ‘The Stones’   –
Boy-pirate Pans old public schoolboys
Emulate   Though it is late
And decibels cannot deny
Dying notes returning into silence   –

For men are rough clay cups
No-thing at all may fill
Until entirely empty




Bernard Saint    
Illustration: Claire Palmer








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