The Dolphin


The salon, slatternly and dim,

smells vaguely of opium.

Poems mingle in clouds, poets

recline around cups of wine,

à la Socrates in Plato's Symposium.

Baudelaire stands nearby, a devotee of art,

a slave to flawless beauty. He frightens me,

with a copy of Madame Bovary in hand,

a scimitar tucked in a greasy sash.

Cigar plumes pool below the frescoed ceiling.


The dolphin dives into the shallowest depths,

backstrokes out to sea, swallows minnows

like caviar. Part fact part fiction part plaintive fact,

The Dolphin wounds without empathy or thought.

The humiliation of others: the finest act of power.

Lowell frightens me more than Baudelaire. Tyrant

of his bloated fiefdom, he sacrifices all life, all love

on the altar of verse. A beating heart raised to the sun,

misery proves immortal for the poète maudit. “To perceive

is to suffer,” moans Aristotle, squinting with his one good eye.


Once the senses kick-start their vagabond dance,

every pillar of light shines brighter. More is more is more

moans the avaricious will. I want, I want, I want echoes

the maddened king. Every downpour heals his crooked sonnets.

The flowers of evil bloom perennially, but last only a season.

Schools of dolphins spiral backward, awe tourists

crowding the pool. Do they eat their young, mate for life?

Is love more vivid in a confessional poem? Is the dichotomy

of the self? Lowell reigns over the psych ward in a threadbare

robe. He flings a copy of The Dolphin at all spooning serfs.

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