Moonpoison, mullock of sacrifice,
Suffuses the veins of the eyes
Till the retina, mooncoloured,
Sees the sideways motion of the cretin crab
Hued thus like a tortoise askew in the glaucous moonscape
A flat hot boulder it
Lividly in the midst of the Doldrums
The lunatic unable to bear the silent course of constellations
Mad and stark naked
The obol on an eyeball of a man dead from elephantiasis
All three across heaven with a rocking motion.
The Doldrums: ‘region of calms and light baffling winds
But the calms are rare
The winds baffling but not light
And the drunken boats belonging to the Crab Club
Rock hot and naked to the dunning of the moon
All in the pallescent Sargasso weed
And windbound, seeking distraction by the light of deliverance
What are we but the excrement of non-existent noon?
(Truth like starlight crookedly)
What are we all but ‘burial grounds abhorred by the moon’?
And did the Maoris die of measles? So do we.
But there is no snow here, nor lilies.
The night is glutinous
In a broad hearth crisscross thorn clumps
Smoulder: distant fireback of copse
Throws back silence: glassen ashes gleam in pond
The constellations which have stopped working (?)
Shimmer. No dead leaf jumps.
On edge of lawn a glowworm
Hangs out its state-recognized torchlamp
Blocks of flowers gape dumb as windows with blinds drawn
And in the centre the rugate trees
Though seeming as if they go up in smoke
Are held like cardboard where they are.
Bluehot it is queer fuel to make the moon move.
We trap our goldfinch trapping our souls therewinged
Sacrifice our mad gods to the madder gods:
We hymn the two sons of Leda and Zeus Aegis-bearer
We don’t. We drink and drivel. My
poor Catullus, do stop being such a
Fool. Admit that lost which as you watch is
gone. O, once the days shone very bright for
you, when where that girl you loved so (as no
other will be) called, you came and came. And
then there were odd things done and many
which you wanted and she didn’t not want.
Yes indeed the days shone very bright for
you. But now she doesn’t want it.
Don’t you either,
booby. Don’t keep chasing her. Don’t live in
misery, carry on, be firm, be hardened.
Goodbye girl: Catullus is quite hardened,
doesn’t want you, doesn’t ask, if you’re not
keen – though sorry you’ll be to be not asked.
Yes, poor sinner . . . what is left in life for
you? Who’ll now go with you? Who’ll be attracted?
Whom’ll you love now? Whom may you belong to?
Whom’ll you now kiss? Whose lips’ll you nibble?
– Now you, Catullus! you’ve decided to be hardened.
How can I be hardened when the whole world is fluid?
O Aphrodite Pandemos, your badgers rolling in the moonlit corn
Corn blue-bloom-covered carpeting the wind
Wind humming like distant rooks
Distant rooks busy like factory whirring metal
Whirring metallic starlings bizarre like cogwheels missing teeth
These last grinning like the backs of old motor cars
Old motor cars smelling of tragomaschality
Tragomaschality denoting the triumph of self over civilization
Civilization being relative our to Greek
Greek to Persian
Persian to Chinese
Chinese politely making borborygms to show satisfaction
Satisfaction a matter of capacity
Capacity not significance: otherwise with an epigram
Epigrams – poems with a strabismus
Strabismus being as common spiritually as optically the moon
The moon tramping regular steps like a policeman past the
houses of the Zodiac
And the Zodiac itself, whirling and flaming sideways
Circling from no point returning through no point
Endlessly skidding as long as man skids, though never moving,
Wavers, topples, dissolves like a sandcastle into acidity.
Is there nothing more soluble, more gaseous, more imperceptible?