Old Tom

The harridan who holds the inn
At which I toss a pot,
Is old and uglier than sin,--
I'm glad she knows me not.
Indeed, for me it's hard to think,
Although my pow's like snow,
She was the lass so fresh and pink
I courted long ago.

I wronged her, yet it's sadly true
She wanted to be wronged:
They mostly do, although 'tis you,
The male bloke who is thonged.
Well, anyway I left her then
To sail across the sea,
And no doubt she had other men,


Ode to Fancy

O parent of each lovely Muse,
Thy spirit o'er my soul diffuse,
O'er all my artless songs preside,
My footsteps to thy temple guide.
To offer at thy turf-built shrine,
In golden cups no costly wine,
No murder'd fatling of the flock,
But flowers and honey from the rock.
O Nymph with loosely-flowing hair,
With buskin'd leg, and bosom bare,
Thy waist with myrtle-girdle bound,
Thy brows with Indian feathers crown'd,
Waving in thy snowy hand
An all-commanding magic wand,
Of pow'r to bid fresh gardens blow,


Ninon De Lenclos, On Her Last Birthday

So let me have the rouge again,
And comb my hair the curly way.
The poor young men, the dear young men
They'll all be here by noon today.

And I shall wear the blue, I think-
They beg to touch its rippled lace;
Or do they love me best in pink,
So sweetly flattering the face?

And are you sure my eyes are bright,
And is it true my cheek is clear?
Young what's-his-name stayed half the night;
He vows to cut his throat, poor dear!

So bring my scarlet slippers, then,


Night-Scented Stock

White, white in the milky night
The moon danced over a tree.
"Wouldn't it be lovely to swim in the lake!"
Someone whispered to me.

"Oh, do-do-do!" cooed someone else,
And clasped her hands to her chin.
"I should so love to see the white bodies--
All the white bodies jump in!"

The big dark house hid secretly
Behind the magnolia and the spreading pear-tree;
But there was a sound of music--music rippled and ran
Like a lady laughing behind her fan,
Laughing and mocking and running away...


Night San Francisco

Rain drenches the patio stones.
All night was spent waiting
for an earthquake, and instead

water stains sand with its pink foam.
Yesterday's steps fill in with gray crabs.
Baritone of a fog horn. A misty light

warns tankers, which block the green
after-sunset flash. My lover's voice calls
to others in his restless sleep.

The venetian blinds slice streetlights,
light coils around my waist and my lover's neck,
dividing him into hundredths.

Would these fractions make me happier?


Nephelidia

From the depth of the dreamy decline of the dawn through a notable nimbus of nebulous noonshine,
Pallid and pink as the palm of the flag-flower that flickers with fear of the flies as they float,
Are they looks of our lovers that lustrously lean from a marvel of mystic miraculous moonshine,
These that we feel in the blood of our blushes that thicken and threaten with throbs through the throat?
Thicken and thrill as a theatre thronged at appeal of an actor's appalled agitation,


New Territory

Sent off to boarding school
at twelve, with a pair of oxfords,
a pair of patents, my sterling
silver christening rosary
and two dozen name tags stitched
like drops of blood onto the collars
of starched blouses, I stare
down the hall, long and dim,
slippery from too many waxings.
Plaster statues of the holy family live
here, in cave-like niches, the Blessed Virgin,
her face soft and chalky, cheeks
powdered pink. Everything about her
is pliable; she is to be our model.
Joseph is nondescript, covered by


My Favoured Fare

Some poets sing of scenery;
Some to fair maids make sonnets sweet.
A fig for love and greenery,
Be mine a song of things to eat.
Let brother bards divinely dream,
I'm just plain human, as you see;
And choose to carol such a theme
As ham and eggs and tea.

Just two fried eggs or maybe three,
With lacy rims and sunside up,
Pink coral ham and amber tea
Poured in a big, fat china cup.
I have no crave for finer fare;
That's just the chuck for chaps like me.
Aye, if I were a millionaire--


My Rival

I go to concert, party, ball --
What profit is in these?
I sit alone against the wall
And strive to look at ease.
The incense that is mine by right
They burn before her shrine;
And that's because I'm seventeen
And She is forty-nine.

I cannot check my girlish blush,
My color comes and goes;
I redden to my finger-tips,
And sometimes to my nose.
But She is white where white should be,
And red where red should shine.
The blush that flies at seventeen
Is fixed at forty-nine.


Monsieur Qui Passe

A purple blot against the dead white door
In my friend's rooms, bathed in their vile pink light,
I had not noticed her before
She snatched my eyes and threw them back to me:
She did not speak till we came out into the night,
Paused at this bench beside the klosk on the quay.

God knows precisely what she said--
I left to her the twisted skein,
Though here and there I caught a thread,--
Something, at first, about "the lamps along the Seine,
And Paris, with that witching card of Spring


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