Poetry: The Great Poet Comes Here in Winter | clivejames.com
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The Great Poet Comes Here in Winter

Frau Antonia is a cabbage:
If I were a grub I’d eat a hole in her.
Here they deliver the milk up a private path
Slippery as spit – her goddess’ hands
Turn it to milk puddings. Blow, little wind,
Steer in off this cardboard sea,
You are acclimatized like these vines
Warring on an inch of topsoil
You are agent of the Golden Republic,
So still blow for me – our flowers look one way,
If I were a good poet I would walk on the sea.

The sea is actually made of eyes.
Whether of drowned fishermen or of peasants
Accustomed to the hard bargains of the saints
I cannot say. Whether there will be
Any mail from Paris or even broccoli
For dinner is in doubt. My hat blew off the planet,
I knelt by the infinite sand of the stars
And prayed for all men. Being German, I have a lot of soul.
Nevertheless, why am I crying in this garden?
I refuse to die till fashion comes back to spats.

From this turret the Adriatic
Burns down the galley lanes to starved Ragusa,
How strange it can wash up condoms.
The world is coming unstitched at the seams.
All yesterday the weather was a taste
In my mouth, I saw the notes of Beethoven
Lying on the ground, from the horn
Of a gramophone I heard Crivelli’s cucumbers
Crying out for paint. In the eyes of a stray bitch
Ribbed with hunger, heavy with young,
I saw the peneplain of all imagined
Misery, horizontal and wider than the world.
I gave her my unwrapped sugar. We said Mass
Together, she licking my fingers and me
Knowing how she would die, not glad to have lived.
She took her need away, I thought her selfish
But stronger than God and more beautiful company.

(from Poems Ancient & Modern, 1964)