Bambocciade

for Joe Cote 1931-1994

He burned down his brown leather arm chair
Where he was the smoker of fat cigars, strumming a blue guitar.
When Joe was king, a shrine of fulgent bottles
Were voodoo candelabra, the drinker’s dawn shrine.
He slept drunk, woke thirsty, visited each bottle
For the dregs, spirit of Labrusca, vint of wild forest morning,
Inebriate of the word, celebrating the spirant rhyme.

When Joe was standing he was falling,
Tottering , atilt, between balance and ambulation,
Between articulation and gibberish,
Falling amid improprieties of diction and dance,
Reeling when he came down hard,
Disgusted by some too sober bard.

Chaos was his maid and muse, books were strewn,
Words lost in the rug, his bottle library
For the lonely voyages of the reader, weeks on end
His drunken boat, his liturgy, his spring, verb sap

The Last Lesson

in memory of Homer Plante

Didn’t the prosody present a paradox,
Our voices in voiceless meter,
Our perceived ideal deceived,
Ashes in the lamp that was glowing?

Didn’t the sense seem fleeting
And it was only ever our feeling
For the heartbeat of correspondence,
The lived thing on a dead page?

After attending to externals
We began with inner sense.
Counting every measure
We saw clearer to a center.

We placed a shadow on a shore
Of eternal whisperings,
And drew a line in our minds
Like the footsteps of Ozymandias…

Timeless Placeless

                       for Alistair MacLeod

Sometimes things are the same everywhere,
That’s also what you taught me.
There’s mist and wind and the sound of waves,
The sound of rain and time passing,
The sound that home is never far
And follows you like a sea, wherever you go.