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.