Ô toi que j'eusse aimée, ô toi qui le savais!
Charles Baudelaire, À une passante
– Milk for the pussens, he said.
– Mrkgnao! the cat cried.
James Joyce, Ulysses
Young and swift in love, my heart set
Upon her like a paparazzo undeterred,
On the dusty gravel road a stone's throw
From the cheese factory, where youth
Acquires early the salty taste of curd.
As a male red-winged blackbird, perched on a reed, flashed its colours, this enraptured
Young lad at a distance, this precocious swain chewing on a straw, felt he had captured
In the inmost recess of his being the transcendence of your porcelain cousine Delphine:
As she stood roadside, holding a hand-painted sign "macintosh apple by the bushel";
Whose subtle ways of the waist revealed wild flowers wafting in her sensual apron;
Unmindful of the redneck hired hand, yonder, pitching hay unto a horseless wagon,
Shirtless his chest, muscular his arms, soaking wet with mid-afternoon summer sun.
They don’t make curds here anymore
Anymore than you will find luscious fruit
In the abandoned orchard at Cow-Crossing, on the road to Avonmore,
Its ever absent summer tenant everpresent on my mind: more and more.
Stigma, style and stamen, in line sketches drawn from found van goghian florae afield,
Codicils, annexed to her early femme Rêveries, writ in an enchiridion, stored as forbidden fruit
In her callow maiden's apron, far from the prying eyes.
By chance I happened upon it, a slim octavo, left unawares, open on a three-legged stool
By the well. Curiouser and curiouser. I was Adam’s progeny again, a betraying feline fool:
Mrkgnao! Ate o’the apple o’me eye. Just like that, fate worse than death: pariah, wholesale!
Eyes that turn away do not look back. Mistah Kat, he dead, just like that, donedeaddoornail!
I am but a casual visitor now,
By mid-life, this midwife, reborn,
Who since ceased blowing his horn,
A kind of post-Compostela pauline pilgrim,
Who roams about seeking, in the hope of finally
Finding that locus pænitentiæ, wherein
He may expiate a very personal primeval sin,
His sin-by-the-well, the sin of callous Curiosity
I confess I committed sinfully
. Garden of Delphine
If absolved, I vow to leave behind me the wrongs
Brought on upon discovering her secret fleurs du mal,
Lest I be condemned again to a vortex of songs
Of lust, spleen and jejune opium fables: omne animal
Succumbing to some appétit nostalgique,
Predestinate, pre-ordained, pathologique.
Vide a Virgilian spirit torn asunder in combat.
Thunder no further. Gone to hell. Just like that.
Wild flowers cut and soldiers of memories defunct, in close proximity slowly fade away.
Each in his or her own way, under musty-ravaged funereal crosses and austere stelæ,
Appeals to Raphael The Healer—rusting wrought-iron gatekeeper, less a severed wing,
No less a stalwart witness—at life’s ultimate trial for betrayal, may he be amicus curiæ.
I am taken anew by the Poem À une passante yes taken to the bone
By its final line’s Orphic rapture yes as it rises above the monotone
Monastic rogations of my daily evensong litany—o ruinous folly!—
Yes taken by it yes by it as it resounds like a muffled mason's mallet
In my breast yes while faithful Shep makes not a sound at my feet
For he is trained to bark only if she appears—and softly at that.
Should your cousine revisit, after all these years after all,
And come down, at sundown, to Cow-Crossing, after all,
Tell her the top of my vintage T-bird will be down;
She'll see me sitting on the hood,
Like some born-again Emmett Kelly clown
Making faces sad and funny at the kine
Chewing the cud—if they're in the mood.
Yes, assuredly as the Impressionists’ sun begins its decline,
I’ll recite for her ears only yes yes my ‘Poem to Delphine’;
And let its last line resonate with the baudelairian alexandrine
Connate in my soul yes yes in my soul imprinted à jamais:
"O toi yes que j'eusse aimée yes yes ô toi yes qui le savais!"
Else I'll while away the hour
Like a defrocked friar minor
Imploring Raphael bring her
Back to Cow-Crossing someday
Before the sun burns out the day
and I return to our respective pastures here and afar
By way of the enduring dust and ashes gravel road now embalmed in tar.
© G. Robert Jeaurond 2011 – 2014
Book Bin Contemplative
Criez après l’enfer, de l’enfer il ne sort
Que l’éternelle soif de l’impossible mort.
Agrippa d’Aubigné, Les Tragiques
“ Lowly, longly, a wail went forth. Pure Yawn lay low. [...] His dream monologue was over, of cause, but his drama parapolylogic had yet to be, affact. Most distressfully (but, my dear, how successfully!) to wail he did [...] [...] Hwoah! ” - James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
In the center of the room, against a princely-pricey stack
leans a ladder steadied with sliding hooks to a metal track.
Amidst Perry Mason Mysteries ‘On
This Week Only’, Sale
scattered about bric-à-brac-like on the maple-top counter,
squats a grand old gold-lacquered Buddha of a cash register.
Of ivory, ideal for hammering sforzandos on a piano's,
its round keys stick up, rarely, true, the dollars and cents symbols,
exhibiting a pure Bonnie and
Clyde bold face composure,
a-top, inside the horizontal glass-in-brass enclosure.
Snugged against the table, stands obtruncated at the bulge this barrel,
a bin half-filled with belles-lettres variatim devoted to Lewis Carroll,
with surrealist poets monographs in facsimile editions, the odd American novel,
stapled salad days chap-books, tossed pell-mell: wellaway, weary wanderers all;
Chamber Music and Pomes Penyeach, among them too; all marked Not For Sale.
Pencilled-in notations: interpretations, musings, secret thoughts, subtle and frail,
blurbs and undecipherable scrawls wallow in gutter, outer margin, head and tail.
Subdued symphonic sounds surround
capriccios wafting in the background.
Here, a has-been poet—need I say ’tis I; need I say more?—
who, once upon a terribly good time, not very long before,
came and went, in the guise of a stylish
bookish professor of English
(ere long Anon
propitiates his proemial sin (for the gist of this: one needs genuflect
and reach, and reflect upon, the metaphysical stanza by John Donne
‘Wilt thou forgive...’, t-a-c-t-f-u-l-l-y tacked above the rim close to the floor,
the very same that Eve premeditated, not very long before she did not abhor
committing, ‘... that sinne by which I have wonne
others to sinne and, made my sinne their doore’.)
I am not resolved to be or not to be in the company of some Dantesque errant soul
to commiserate with—I am as I am, a densely desolate damned dunce of a fool!—
My soul lies distraught, lamb-like, alone, in this condemned cell of a hell-hole,
a used books bin, in a country antiquarian bookstore established by a bibliopole,
off the tourist trail, run by, of all people, my widow, the ever youth-fool,
the still strikingly beauti-fool ‘Sad Rose of my days’; ever so regret-fool
off and on: Sad Rose no more, yet sad rose evermore, for
she won’t let go either of the racy rumour in dark room lore,
of a Lovelorn, outstretched as Child in Forest in the Wynn Bullock photo,
in the foliage—she said was poison ivy—that climbed up to my window
overlooking Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald Memorial Square (with no, indeed, no
Sousa stars ’n stripes a-stirrin’—times they were a-changin’—on the bandstand);
or of my tutoring a ‘dreadful lot of bitches’, quoth Mrs Bloom; who looked for
answers blowin’ in the wind, who wore wild flowers in their headless headband,
bushy-tailed red-eyed bunnies, scurryin’ post-haste out of
up the stairs to my master class in Comparative Literature Exploratory Studies;
today a reading of Charles Baudelaire’s Franciscæ Meæ Laudes:
o how you speak to me, mon semblable, mon frère! Speak to me!;
tomorrow, ever captivated, revisiting riveting Thomas Hardy’s
The Voice, the poet and the ‘woman much missed, calling to me’;
o that she would call to me, call to me still that she is all to me!
In the summer the bin is removed to the front porch, demmit,
filling in as doorstop, Welcome Open sign dangling fremmit.
Through the green screen door you see him coming a mile away;
he walks the walk of the swagger, by the smart mien of his sway.
And you stand embosoming T. S. Eliot, Keats and Elizabeth Browning;
you bow before Blake; you burn for Burns, as I did for the smile you bare,
a summer sun ray, voluptuous as on the likes of the Vargas sweet thing in a swing,
illuminating the cover of the book, my gift to you, of rhymes by Walter de la Mare,
a first, of first memories of first love first, of sadness last of last of the lonely,
inscribed in Cupid’s ink ‘For You, belle enfant, My Love, My One and Only’.
With that swaggering gait you know, you know he’ll recite for you, by heart, Yeats’
To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time, and enchant you further with other poetic treats.
After, when Open flips to Closed,
such as light to night, unopposed,
Sad Rose of all my ways of all my nights of all my days—whether during dense foreplay
or in your sleep, deep in the trance of a dance of a dream, or on awakening, t’is moot: on
your lips, on your hips by your loins, on the tips of your burgeoning breasts, on and on and on, the tip of his tongue on—while you juggle with the juggernaut inside your head,
won’t you replay: a whisper: a murmur: a humming hint at it:
so he knows so
you saw coming a mile away.
I hear you: I am dead, dead I am,
forever lying In Memoriam, I am
still in your debt: you keep me alive against ungodly odds.
Were it for the rippling locks that flow from a ghost like a god’s,
or the swagger, the tracksuit, the arms of the sweater swung on, buckling the waist,
nay, nay, simply say, not in haste,
calmly, just say no more than this:
“ T’was bliss.
You saw me standing sublimely in awe:
captured, enraptured, exhaustively,
by je ne sais quoi,
when I saw you coming a mile away
o o o so radiantly. ”
hwoah wohwohwoah mmmmolly mrkgnao o o o hwoah o o o Molly
mrkgnao mmmmmolly o mmmmmrkgnao o Molly o Molly aaaahhhhhhh
© G. Robert Jeaurond July 2011 – March 2013 – January 2014
Fathom my Heart the
Tenants of the house,
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.
T. S. Eliot, Gerontion
Turn not now for comfort here,
The lamps are quenched, the moors are gone,
Cold and lonely, dim and drear,
Void are now those hills of stone.
Here I am at Haworth Parsonage, an old man at vespers,
forehead pressed against cold marble, marked at eye level:
This Pillar Near to the Place Where the Brontës’ Pew Stood.
Witness wetness windswept down from limitrophe moors,
as it whiplashes sans cesse the attendant churchyard,
whose stern nameless stones, still to this day, in stillness
upon my vagrant soul, impress incertitude, inquietude, restlessness.
It being dark, I pray for the eldest Brontë’s prescient luminescence.
As afar off as Ptolemy’s
Alexandria, afar off I fear is her recipience.
boy, preyed upon and kidnapped, prayed, we were told,
as I did, so to speak, standing forlorn at a fork in the country road,
brewing turbulent appeals to
Charlotte, serene among the Brontës.
In unison, heart and temples throb. I am an unpardonable snob.
When I withstood the silence as I rubbed her name, braillewise,
and laid it imprinted close to my flesh, as if to secretly eulogize
Existence, once arrested in my grained oasis moleskin note-book,
oh my! why, why did I not trouble myself,
then, with her spectral presence stealing by?
Was I deaf, too, too far removed from her Work? Au contraire.
While I remain your incompetent serf, having been blinded
by a flash of lightning turned burning bush, I am reminded
of the presence of this grande dame de lettres, fuelling our hope,
limelighting every step as we grope along our cerebral tightrope,
more a hound’s leash, to heaven: her prose and poem lie-in-state
in me in a single tome disbound. Strapped over my left shoulder I carry
a sabretache purchased million moons ago at
across Bridge to
USA, then pedestrian, now effaced from memory.
In it I keep a map and train schedules to
London, Oxford and the City of York.
Inside my mackinaw, in a zippered pocket, you’ll find a handsome guide-book,
however in disrepair its cover: a precious
6th edition, 1906, Baedeker,
I spotted in The Winking Owl, a freebie hand-out cat., while on a book hunt hunch,
now perdu beside pencils tied tightly in a bunch. Conduit Street, London
Which makes me think I can deep-six
with the best of ‘em, respectably speaking, as any bespectacled peripatetic pedicabman
would do with his chop-sticks
of bright bamboo or dark wandoo.
Query: what ought one do, if by chance, out of the blue, enters Phileas Fogg, nose
somewhat out of joint, because this Jules Verne fellow, this high-muck-a-muck
of literary circles, follows his every step, every step of the way? Why? Who knows?
So, with the sun at our back, it is decided we do lunch. Good. Let’s. With any luck,
sechuan dimsun, sweet and sour, easy on the wonton, on the go from
like three in a tub, Fogg and I and Passepartout, with a wanton wandering wanderoo
in tow, swift, singing tongue in cheek tra la la la la, in the yahoo vernacular, as did Defoe,
or was it Crusoe, some time ago, on a similar cruise, o, in my imaginary flying rickshaw?
among the Brontës … do you sometimes dream of Alexandria?
M’lord, the incongruity of it all! It has been raised to intolerable heights, I fear, the ante.
I put it to Thee: would it be Your will, along mine, to persuade her, affettuoso andante,
of course, to visit our black earth, its milk, honey, cloudless sun, and the sensuous spear
of grass by the sluggish, rarely raging rivulet, our engaging, often renegade
I put it to Thee: would she not find perk and invention among us, the eminent Brontë sister
beyond her years? Thee to me in my thoughts: who among you would be able to assist her?
Like hymnal prose poems dormant in archival repositories, manuscripts
of the seminal state are oft embedded in crevices in a crypt wall
by the dead come back to life, for the following reason, none other at all:
their literæ scriptæ—their power over us—regardless of innate fear, rouse
one’s inclination to enter their infernal labyrinths, burning with curiosity
—at Borges’s behest, or Kubrick’s, who else?—and reconnoître a quarry
where, in ageless anticipation, spiritual oxygen is extracted
and passed on to us, lest we suffocate in burial urns hermetic,
or drown in our own lachrymal vases, wasted, i.e., abstracted,
catalogued, stored at the hand of a stuffed-collar executor,
in the damnatory privy library of the insufferable Collector
of the Unread. Suffice it be said. Once upon a time, tralalalalalalalalas.
To be forgotten: o o oblivion’s malediction. In perpetuity, alas, alas, alas.
So take a bow before the Dean, the journeyman lecturer, indeed the phdeed
professor, as you embark on yet another journey, dandy Dante. Godspeed!
A man in hard hat and security boots
holds upright a warning sign on
an incline on
a cobble-stone road about to be
repared for you and me
to hobble on.
Charlotte among the Brontës,
‘tis the call of my return to my far-off Alexandrie.
If I fetch thee, won’t you accompany me?
I took on the rascal rogue road, wicked walking-stick in hand.
I was l’enfant perdu et retrouvé, on his way back to his homeland.
I blew at the sickly sun: it died, like a match in the wind.
Came the rain, more like biting hale. I spat at the rain.
Thunder and lightning abetting, it soon
turned into a monsoon-like-storm-tossed
bleak night, moonless as moonless can be.
I spat at the rain. Spit. Spat spit at the rain,
like skippable pebbles thrown back at the sea,
over rougher swells than you’ll ever see on the Raisin,
even when a train of rain reigns in
precipitately crafts and unmoored rafts from her bed.
By chance by cemetery by church by brick house: a naked verandah,
floor as spotless as a nunnery floor. Took refuge there, by the door.
Head plunged in my arms folded upon a raisèd knee, in symmetry
with my spirit resting against the Wailing Wall that is inside of me,
rampart built of dust and straw, by hollow men, stuffed men, over the years
of sticks and stones to break my bones. One’s James Dean years of lore.
Je me souviens, those days were cold as the heart of a Madam’s whore
was mean, cold as a marble slab in a parsonage at the foot of a moor.
Penitent, invariably I return to the Wall, as resolved as
was, when he lost his way
a fallen angel, Cal, losing it, prancing on the frantic tip Land of Nod
of Steinbeck’s pen: like
Cal I pray I’m heard, above the fiendish fickle
by his saint, The Less, no less, that the tenant might turn on the light above the door.
Hush …Grumpy gruffy growl, muffled instant—Keeper, is that you, boy?—
past adown a rustic flight of stairs winding up to secretive rooms dimly lit;
petticoats do ruffle; then dead silence; then stillness heard: soft … good boy!
Behind a curtain's nervous churchyard cough, brittle and crackly
like chalk, mute exchanges swerve from glance to frown, swiftly,
to tip of finger, discreetly, onto rounded lips, swelling as faintly
as sibilant scratches touching down on thirsty vellum with goose-quill dexterity.
Muses, thought I. Identity unascertained. Muses, just the same.
Manifestly not at all at my beck and call. No, not at all. Faux-pas: Faust’s fame!
I nameless I. I fameless I. I worthless I. I the fool at her feet I.
How, I shameless I, dare I presume they existed at all,
the silent house, the silent tenants, the mongrel’s silenced murmur of a growl?
among the Brontës … do you sometimes dream of Alexandria,
and of strolling about strewn paths where the grandiflora trillia
abound around our seasonally abandoned maple sugar emporia?
I hear Canadian Pacific engine number 306 afar, as it begins in earnest
its strenuous thunderous undertaking, practically in Ernest’s backyard,
along the horizon line, marking the plough-land awaiting plow and sow,
as Golden Bantam seeds await in a nearby shed the twenty rough hands
of the sons of La Tulipe, Joseph Jean-Baptiste Jérémie Joachim Denis,
who, from the hectic hectare, with the aid of a neighbour’s mare for hire,
tore out the tree stumps, hauled the roots to fire
and tilled the land, renitent, it seemed, à l’infini,
until it became his, and his progeny’s Alexandrie.
Envoi on Entering the Epicenter
I counted the ripples on her bed
before the Book was read.
Dreams of a glittering pasture
in this pastoral enclosure
begot desert begot oasis begot town begot city
that turned to ashes that shredded its history
fed from fires fomented not far from the once-noble
In a second in a minute in an hour in a month in a year in a century,
lifted the fist of retribution with impunity,
took hold of the library—tore into it—
lit, looted, let out a lecher’s laughter
at the distant rubble at Alexander’s
Then as sudden as black-out the computer crashes;
the tower four-clocks chime stops telling time;
pocket watches unwind, take on the look of Dali watches;
follows a mad rush to torches and matches where hoarded.
O’clock on the dictator’s watch: time will tell tales
of totalitarian travesties and teachings and treachery
in a second in a minute in a day in a century
at a time, at the time unrecorded. A mockery!
O’clock! O mimicry! O’clock!
Across a cindery century
time spreads its tell-tale ashes.
an old man on a train reads Jane Eyre with a passion and praise
gazing momentarily at the window blurred from Glengarry haze
in the cross-fire of his thoughts for
Charlotte among the
Wistful wanderings of a wet brain in a wet season. Tra la la la la.
© G. Robert Jeaurond July 2011 - January 2014
gj, to his friends. Born 1938 at Glen Robertson, in
. Glengarry County, Ontario,
Oddly enough, still living and kicking: re-visiting his earlier poems; working them over,
like Ali did the punching-bag, ducking, dodging, dancing around them; writing, writing,
rewriting most of them, and stuff, in a sweat, loving it. A bee, a butterfly, all over again.