I SANG FOR ONE LOVE—A SONG OF ORPHEUS

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I sang for one love—just one love—alone,

Though many loved me—as was their right to do.

But they crushed my head beneath a stone

And drank my blood, because I loved only you.

They loved my music, but when it was known,

That you, Eurydice, were the one to whom I sang,

Though you sleep eternally beneath the world’s moan,

The death of my limbs in the night woods rang.

It was after I lost you, in that backward glance,

And all unkempt, singing nightly my musical moan,

That the jealous killed me.  I had no chance.

Jealousy is love, Eurydice. But Eurydice, I love you alone.

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POEM INSPIRED BY TWO OR THREE BEN FRANKLIN EPIGRAMS

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“A penny, etc” –Ben Franklin

The best way to tell a lie is not to tell one.
But if an emergency makes you lie, tell half a truth.
Here’s the truth: I love you. And once that truth is in,
This is the best I can ever do for proof:
Truth’s other half will be you, in my arms,
And that truth will end all lies and alarms.

Our memory is often wrong.
We don’t remember the beginning of the song,
And yet if the song weary us, we are sure
We don’t want to hear that song anymore.
So end the song, which pleased in the beginning,
A beautiful song for love that harmonized with sinning—
And there’s many more songs to hear.
Love is like music, I fear.

You cannot convince another to like your song.
Your lover will tire of you, before long,
Whether or not she remembers, how you held her, once, in your arms,
You held her! And love ended lies and alarms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AT LEAST I AM ONLY ONE

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At least I am only one, and feel only an individual’s pain.

Once I was God, and felt everyone’s loneliness and sorrow.

Please don’t do that to me again.

My pain’s enough, and my pain might even make me happy tomorrow.

What I suffer now may fall somewhat away,

And by that lessening of sorrow,

Make me glad now, next to yesterday.

She broke my heart, but that was years ago,

And yes, I still love her, and dwell on the past.

But the past swims away and takes with it that pain

When I was a god of sorrow,

Because I loved her again and again,

And she took my whole tomorrow.

Now, if I happen to see her in pain,

I, in what might be called revenge, count that as my gain.

I’m happier than God—whose sorrow is everyone’s sorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FROM IRAN: 7 POEMS BY HESSAMEDIN SHEIKHI (B. 1990) TRANSLATED BY SHERRY(SHOHREH) LAICI

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Hessamedin Sheikhi, journalist and poet, Iran. Trans. Sherry (Shohreh) Laici

***

I could write about the citrus,

the smell of lemon,

the bitter taste of pomegranate,

but I would like to write about rare words,

such as you.

*

The farms are burning!

They grew tall, magnificent wheat

Which wasn’t feeding the children.

*

Time brings slow ruin,

But this lonely ruin

Is me—ruined by war in a day.

*

I’m grandfather’s watch—since he died, sitting alone

Since you left.

*

Do you look fondly upon this leaf?

Finally, finally, I am changed!

*

Life is nothing but the profit

From long term deposits.

Give me your hands.

*

If we could hear

Soldiers reading out loud letters

Sent by those who love them,

War would end.

 

 

 

 

 

PASS THE YAMS

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Where is poetry? In the Thanksgiving feast?
What is this that consumes, yet grows?
That takes away, yet more and more knows
All those wants, that want what they want the least,
Loving only the going, not what goes?

It has been decided that we will go outside,
Walk the grounds near the river and play with sticks,
Assemble outside, where hills and woods and bricks
Were long ago assembled, and old trails veer wide
Of tall grasses which hide the dangerous ticks.

We did some hiking and camping, true,
In places of historic value drawn on maps
Where the derby oversaw working class caps
And hanging out in the library I decided I really loved you,
Or knew it, by myself, in the Y, swimming laps.

But these are memories, and if I daydream,
And respond to you slowly, as our family members
Gather here to eat and then go to their separate slumbers,
I am, as you know, exactly as I seem,
In love with a muse, a mind—which is but a memory of hers.

WHAT BECAME OF YOU

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What became of you?
I tried to love you—
You were determined to go many miles without a man.
If I cannot hold you, then let me write you a poem when I can.
If I cannot kiss you, let me kiss you with poems instead,
Like that one, you told me, long ago, you read—
Which sings of things today you barely know,
Because of all that happened. Because you had to go.

DON’T FORGET TO TELL HER EYES

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Don’t forget to tell her eyes

You love her. She’s what sight buys.

Sight buys love with no return.

Knowing can learn, but unlearn;

Memory fades. But eyes burn

With the flame they look on,

And mutual flaming fire

Feeds fire, fed by desire

Living as both fuel and fire.

Love songs can tickle her ear,

Scents crawl in the middle of the night,

But in love, endearing fear

Is engendered by sight:

Her flaming eye burns

With fury, as she learns

You are not as good as she thought.

She intends to return what she bought,

But she cannot; dreaming, now she sees

The shadow sliding from your face by slow degrees.

 

THERE IS A BORDER

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“Cold pastoral” —Keats

Enticement is blind,

For enticement,

With its beautiful flame, does not

Count nearly as much as the reason—the goal that’s in the mind.

Do not ask why love belongs to birth, or that breeding

Is fed by the forbidden thrill pornography is feeding;

Fleshy enticement is not meant to offend;

It is enticement only, for a specific end.

You may not participate in lust

Unless you surrender your sanity to beauty and her madness,

Losing all sense of civility and safety and trust.

Look at these prisoners of love;

Can you detect a restlessness and sadness

As they are drawn to pictures and mirrors

Of continual winter: a whirl of candied, perfect flesh,

A lovely storm of pussies and nipples;

These prisoners of love, these cripples,

Know lusty wind isn’t warm; it’s cold; lust always new and fresh,

Forming the perfect model, the writhing statue

Of what they always wanted, and always, in secrecy, knew.

The border between pornography and art confuses you.

It no longer confuses me.

I found a cold, dark mountain pass to invade

Those couples sobbing in the shade,

Who look for love the most, and cry out loud for poetry.

 

 

 

 

I CALL UPON MY CHRISTIAN GOD

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I call upon my Christian God to protect me from this
Hindu lady. Her delicious kiss
Will make me forget
My God, and yet,
I see my God in her eyes,
And will martyr myself for her paradise.
The passion I will go through
For the God of gods I will willingly do,
As long as I am strong
And can worship long
The virtues and beauties of you.
What do I remember if your hand
Is my hand holding her hand?
And memory, in the eternal now,
Leads me on the path that is hers, anyhow?

SEX IS MUSIC

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Sex is music,
And a rhythm anyone can play,
A common theme as much as yesterday.
But music is not sex.
Give me those holy tones
Which melt above accidents and groans
And go inside the silver ear
As golden heaven lingers here
To please me in ways I cannot understand.
Sex is music, but now her hand
Is on the violin
Vibrating the receptors where sex has been,
And vibrating much more:
The loves whom the loves who love the most most implore.
I almost allowed you in my brain
With your beautiful confusion of evil and smile.
You confused me for a while.
Music is not sex.
No more will you perplex
The notes that swim in me
Which played about your ears when I wrote you poetry.

I’LL NAME EVERY LOVE HE HAS

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I’ll name every love he has:

Her eyes he loves to peer into—

Her eyes are one of his greatest loves,

Deep in those eyes he forgets all.

No one is wise

Who does not count, as one of his greatest loves, her eyes.

And down he looks into them because he is tall.

Her shoulders are great, great loves of his

And he can almost remember he went to divine love, from anxious care,

When he first saw those shoulders, bare,

And gently put his hands on them, prior to moving towards her for a kiss.

He loves her shoulders almost as much as he

Loves her eyes, and he loves to hold her shoulders tenderly.

Her waist is one of his greatest loves, and he loves

Her waist for where it is, and how it looks and feels, and how it moves.

There is no doubt her waist is one of his greatest loves.

He loves the way his kissing face around her waist moves,

A kissing orbit attached to the flesh, an orbit slow, slow, because it loves.

And when he loves her waist, he also loves her legs,

And feet, but I must stop—love that talks too much is love that begs,

And description waxes to death, and even breath that breathes, in love, must have a pause, as

Alive to love, craving love, a slave to love, I name every love he has.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO THE WOMAN WHO READS ON THE TRAIN

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And most of the time she reads.

As if someone broke her heart and she fled into a book

And she no longer needs

His love. Or the laughter love engenders. Look!

Love could be here, but books

Say love is absent. Looks

Lovers send are missing on page

After page, where writers journey, age after age,

Losing their imaginary loves. I can name

The most famous: Beatrice. Dante brought Beatrice fame

Because to her memory he imaginatively wrote

All the beauty we might hear in a musical note,

Sighing to us before it melts away

In one of those old songs a scratchy LP might play

When an old record player, with a needle still sharp,

Hums into action, and produces the sound of the trembling harp.

The mechanical conditions for music must be just right.

A lovely woman who madly reads is considered the perfect gem.

Look at the guys trying to see what book she’s reading but she doesn’t see them.

A person will remove their glasses before they retire at night,

But I think she keeps her glasses on, and there, by the lamp, in bed, she reads,

And she’s missing someone, someone who once read aloud to her—whom she hardly needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY POETRY CAN ACHIEVE

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My poetry can achieve,

Just with the way it makes the reader breathe,

A simulated feeling of love, I believe.

The same way the eye

Engenders love if it happens to spy

A Michelangelo die

In the shuffling distance of a further room,

When, descending great marble stairs,

One glances back, and, between three figures, sees

A woman, with marble thighs, on her knees,

The solidity of the female form fending off the abstract tease,

As something real is ruthlessly pictured,

As though, for all its closing gloom,

The appalling darkness permeating the museum room,

Were a friend, because it keeps

From too much contemplation those aesthetic leaps

The artist suffered, and you now look

Superficially—a shortcut to all the depth you might find in a book—

Towards reality, and all it makes you believe

Of life. And as you read this, for a moment, you don’t breathe.

There. Did that feel like love? Or was this merely a fancy trick

Of a poem’s ghostly rhetoric?

Yes, it was a trick. And love requires a true object. Darling, it requires you.

But there weren’t many poets in the museum. And true poets are few.

 

 

 

 

 

I HAD BEEN WANTING

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The cold mathematics of moving bodies in space
Is impressive; moon, sun, stars, the giant sky
Is reality, and almost comforts us, and many, about to die,
Pushed down by death in this sad, familiar place,
Will find the vast nothing of outer space belongs to their goodbye,
The moon, the one we loved, the moon to whom we cry.

Or will it be you, more than any other memory,
You, more than any other being
I will ache for beyond all ceremony,
Beyond chance, you, the one I would rather be seeing?

I had been wanting to get closer to you for quite some time.
There is no doubt, since my birth, I was destined to rhyme,
And here I am. Rhyming.
I was born on the other side of the earth from you.
This is difficult to see, even from outer space, where black leaves behind the blue.
We met when vast distances fell away, and of course there was a miracle of timing.

We met on a train. You laughed. I looked into your eyes.
Then other things happened. Beneath the skies.

 

LEONARD COHEN WONDERS: DID THEY DO SUZANNE ON SNL?

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KELLYANNE (First woman to run a winning presidential campaign)

 

Kellyanne takes you down to a rally by the river.

You can hear the votes go by, you can spend the night forever

And you know that Trump’s half-crazy but that’s why you want to be there

And he feeds the crowd the truth about trade deals with China

And when you tell Hillary you have no vote to give her

The echo chamber media gets you on its wavelength

And lets sexism answer you’ve always been her lover.

 

And you want to travel with her and not seem too unkind

And you know that she will trust you

For you’ve touched her perfect electorate with your mind

 

And Trump was not a lawyer when he walked upon the water,

Planning from a lonely office of Trump tower

And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him

He said Americans will be builders, as trade deals will free them

And Hillary was broken long before Wikileaks would open

And the truth about the Saudis sank beneath your wisdom like a stone.

 

And you want to travel with them

And you know that they will trust you

For you’ve touched the New World Order with your mind.

 

Now Kellyanne takes your vote as she leads you to the rally.

She’s wearing scarves and feathers from Saks Fifth Avenue counters

And the votes pour down like honey on the candidate, the builder

And she shows you where to look away from CBS towers

There are heroes who are builders, there are children in the morning.

They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever

While Hillary holds the mirror

 

And you want to travel with her and not seem too unkind

And you know that she will trust you

For you’ve left the perfect protest in your mind

 

 

POLITICS OR LOVE

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Are they so different, politics and love?

Money and friends in nice houses and revenge.

Don’t they both make you cry when it’s done?

Both are about saying what you need to say in just the right way.

But they are different in one important way.

One will never do it, and one will always do it, for pay.

When money springs like a tiger, and the seducer is merely warm,

War and suffering funds the political gain,

But love will always steal the show. And doesn’t need protection from the reign.

 

 

MIRACLE

 

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There is something I meant to tell you
When I was singing my song.
There was something I meant to tell you
When I loved you—
But now, what good will it do?
Yesterday the night seemed particularly long.
There is something about time
Which is always wrong.
I would like to be in the same place,
And look upon you with the same face,
With the same love we had!
But time makes it impossible.
The impossible is wrong. The impossible is sad.

I READ THE NEWS TODAY OH BOY.

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The top ten reasons Trump defeated Hillary Clinton for the U.S. Presidency:

10. The Rising Cost of Obamacare

9. Hillary Is A Crook, Gets Away With It, And No One In Washington Cares

8. Hillary Failed To Articulate, In Person, What She Was Going To Do When Elected

7. White Guys Are Tired Of Being Called Racists And People In General Are Sick Of Anti-People Identity Politics

6. Hillary’s Entire Message Was: “Trump’s Gross, Vote For Me.”  Really? With Your Marriage? And Your Corruption?

5. Town Versus Gown.  Liberal Arts Colleges Produce Pointy-Headed Liberals—And Little Else.  The Real World Bit Hillary

4. Taxes, Regulations, and Trade.  Trump Offered Hope For A Sluggish U.S. Economy With A Staggering Debt (Rust Belt, Especially)

3. Hillary’s Open Border/Globalist/Destruction Of The Middle East/Pro-ISIS/Pro-NATO/Make Russia The “Aggressor”/Policy.

2. Some Read Wikileaks, Got Outside the Liberal Echo Chamber, And Lost Trust In The Mainstream, Corporate Media

1. Hollywood Is Boring And SNL Isn’t Funny

THE VOTE FOR NOTHING

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“In Fum-Fudge great is a Lion with a proboscis, but greater by far is a Lion with no proboscis at all.” Lionizing, Edgar Poe

There is a vote for nothing.

We can desire nothing. We can think of nothing. We can move towards nothing.

We can choose nothing.

It is a very pleasant thing.  I think I will do nothing today.

We love and need and want nothing, like nothing else.

When love speaks to us—and what is more desired than love?—it whispers “sweet nothings.”

When we are in pain, we always feel something: whatever is hurting us, we feel.

The opposite of pain is simply to feel—nothing.

To feel nothing is bliss.

When we are truly comfortable with a friend, we can be at ease with them—doing nothing. That’s the test of friendship.

In friendship, in love, we find it meaningful and reassuring and pleasant to be next to someone we care about, doing absolutely nothing.

Nothing is the elixir of those voting for Hillary.

Voters for Trump want lower taxes and less regulations to stimulate business and grow the economy and create jobs and wealth.  They want borders against illegal immigrants for the safety and success of all Americans. Things like that. Agree with it, or not, to vote for Trump is to vote for something.

Likewise, with Jill Stein.  One votes for her to help protect the environment.

The libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.  We know what that means. You are voting for the philosophy of less government and more individual freedom regarding issues that don’t harm others.

Ah, but none of these votes reach the profound bliss of nothing.

These voting choices preach good, but good with conditions: goods which are good, but which must be worked for.

But a vote for Hillary.

What is a vote for Hillary?

It is a vote for nothing.

Many people are voting for Hillary just… because… she is… a woman.

Just as strong friendships exist when two friends can hang out together doing nothing, so it is with the unconditional love of one woman for another.

You are a woman.  She is a woman. That’s it. That’s enough. It is nice just knowing there is another one similar to you in your presence. And of course this can work with any group with which you identify.

Just wanna be with my peeps. Nothing more.

It is the utterly simple companionship based on nothing—just two people occupying the same space together, in the simplest kind of empathy.  Nothing else is required.  Nothing.

What did Hillary do when she was a senator?  Everyone agrees.  Nothing.

In any manner that can be measured, in terms of speech, or policy, or legislation—what has she contributed?  Nothing.

What is her legacy?  Nothing.

Hillary is most famous for the nothing of erased emails, the nothing of vanished documents, the nothing of unnamed villains conspiring to make it seem she has done something wrong.

In Hillary’s case, we look in vain for something.  Does she have a personality?  Is there anything, when we look at her?

No. There is nothing.

A vote for Hillary says: let the future be the same as the present.  No change, please.  Nothing.

It is her secret appeal, if she has one.  No, there isn’t any appeal.

But of course, it is a greater appeal than any other.

The appeal of, and for, nothing.

And to argue with the Hillary Clinton status quo of blissful, unthinking nothing?  Is there anything we can say?

No. There is nothing.

We argue for—something—in vain.

 

 

 

 

THE POLITICS OF THE PIGEON

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The politics of the pigeon is to sit on a roof

Or land, or fly together into the shadows

With its locally formed flock.

Meanwhile, a mathematician seeks a proof

Fanatically. The business deal bores me.

Work began on the deal exactly at eight o’clock.

Wake up, shower, dress, train, phone and bus.

Love requires a certain local discussion of us.

But a mathematician will seek a proof in solitude for years.

Too bored by business, I was penalized.

I was bored. You can’t imagine. That’s the secret of all my tears.

 

 

KISS THE GOOD LIFE GOODBYE

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She loved him, and it was sweet how she did.

Her husband was her father. He treated her like a kid.

She needed equal love

And he gladly complied.

He loved her. She was beautiful. But her love for him died.

He wouldn’t give up the good life, he

Had children and wrote beautiful poetry.

All she had was his love, but it changed to hate

Because he had the good life, and wouldn’t make her the one. He wanted her to wait.

He loved her, but he came to be seen

As the lover who was always in between.

He found her in parts, in a poem or a kiss.

She decided to be the one. He always would miss.

 

 

THERE IS A THIRD

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O love, there is a third—

Between hate and love,

And it’s real, though it has no word.

It’s how I feel towards you.

And this, stronger than the other two,

Consumes me with merciful fury;

It makes me cunning and willing to wait,

A cunning child of love and hate!

It means no harm, but the harm done

Makes me pause, and makes me worry,

Makes me swim, and makes me run.

It wants no love—but the love it had

Makes it artistic and longing and sad.

It wants the future, but hates to hurry.

It can’t be master; it can’t be slave:

The former was too meek, the latter, too brave;

Fallen is the tower; buried is the cave.

It looks like you and it looks like me,

It has beautiful lips. And reads poetry.

It is not love. It is not hate.

It is love in a drama of love. Love in a lovely, sweet debate.

Some call it revenge, but it’s not really that.

The hate is a mouse. The love is a cat.

It was happy. And now its happiness is sorrow.

It has its hates, my love. But will love you, tomorrow.

 

WHEN YOU THOUGHT I HAD INSULTED

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When you thought I had insulted—
As joyfully, just to you, madly in love, I exulted—
There was no hope for me.
A woman’s love is chiefly about her dignity.
A woman feels she needs to be treated with respect.
The weak—of course!—is what the strong is obligated to protect.
Ancient doctrine says the male is strong,
But today that doctrine is completely wrong.
The woman—that’s you—is strong,
And the man—that’s me—is weak.
You insulted me.
You thought, and felt, but failed to speak.
I was in love.
The ancient God was now two.
I was weak, very weak.
Far more than you knew.

YOU’LL DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

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You’ll do what you need to do,

As the possibility of happiness presents itself to you.

And what can you do about the possibility?

Nothing. Don’t think about asking me.

I have no idea. I’m just writing poetry.

The only thing I’ve got is making this poem end.

That’s what I’m doing, that’s where I’m going,

Hoping happiness is around the bend.

Happiness is never here. Or if it’s here, it’s flowing,

And everything is possible, and happiness always deferred,

And that’s why I’m moving to the next line, looking for the next word,

Which will change what I said before,

So it’s more confusing and unstable than I can say.

The poem arrives. Love arrives.  And then they go away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SONG FOR THE QUEEN

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I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

And a deplorable. I’ve said things

Which a heavenly choir never sings.

When I’m calm and listening to Clair de Lune,

And the peace of the world sends mist around the moon,

You can see I am a peaceful member of the human race,

As here I sigh, and forget yours and my disgrace.

With the bad economy closing in,

We still consider the little things: the difference between a smile and a grin,

The difference between mania, jealousy and love, which now

Creates voids, and causes me to turn away from what you might allow

Me to do when you are in a good mood,

As you shoo me away for the sake of how it looks

To them, on the correct side, reading the right books,

A rhetoric memorized

For comfort, and their idea of paradise.

I’M SORRY I TRIED TO MAKE EVERYONE LOVE ME

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I’m sorry I tried to make everyone love me.

I should have been thinking of you:

Your eyes which hold the universe,

Infinity in your mouth, too.

You, in a bad mood, lying on your bed,

Was the landscape I should have explored.

You didn’t speak. I should have seen your silence was wisdom.

It wasn’t because you were bored.

Your secrets were important, so important to you,

I should have loved everyone who knew those secrets, too,

And rebuked myself for wanting to know

What they were. I should have realized a lover, to you, was not a friend, but a foe.

It should have been clear to me it was your loving that was silent, silent, in the void.

That’s why you didn’t text me. I thought you were annoyed.

I should have seen all your actions

Were for everyone, not just for me,

And the biggest mistake of my life was writing you poetry.

 

 

 

 

 

THE MORE HE LOVED, THE MORE HE WAS HATED

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First, he was the delicate man who read poetry: “everyone must be good!”

They heard him at the festival. Everyone understood.

But eventually it became apparent he was completely naïve.

To prevent a backlash, he asked the only one he really loved to leave.

Then, the seducer at Tyre, in the cape his mother washed

During the financial panic when the revolution was squashed.

After that, a composer, whose unsteady inventions, morose, yet sublime,

Filled the stadiums with those who worshiped a philosophy of stadiums on time.

They had to be on time. They had to meet the conditions,

To attend his concert, and hear his exaggerated renditions.

They had to sit close enough, as a live audience, to hear

His body. He played with confidence. He had absolutely no fear.

He didn’t miss a beat, but, what they couldn’t tell,

Was increasingly in the afternoons, he began to drink and yell.

His third wife got to him and told him he was no good,

And convinced him that all his glory was luck, and had nothing to do with his will,

That everything simply is, and nothing is possible.

Nothing, she convinced him, improves,

And he believed her. It was the end of his life. And his loves.

 

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