Part Two


but I had to go back 
to the cutting room floor
I rasped        sawed          inhaled decay
                  slipped on innards

donated the root of an angel's wing
to a famished rat with 
a critic's evacuated eyes 

but then                                   the Opéra!

it was like moving 
from rowing boats in the park

to the decks of majestic three-masters 
riding  all the distant inner oceans

suddenly it was music to 
the power of itself

it was cosmic
imagining & writing 

unimaginable numbers


forcing the hacksaw
through a stranger's cranium
the next day
I hummed a tune
conducting with my eyebrows

the kindly gifts of destiny

I practically ran back to the opera
& was chromatically damaged
by a cor anglais       crying 
the hymn that floated 
          that very first communion

then I found
the Conservatoire library
was open to the public

the manuscripts of
Gluck treasure
like Shakespeare's notes

once my eyes & ears had played Gluck
all pretence of medicine
was rinsed down the sink

& I held up the triumphant hand
of an artist

alone like Lear
in the quiet & failing light


when convinced
I wouldn't give
up writing
in the name of
all that's holy
my Catholic
mother cursed me

back in Paris
I survived
on private lessons
prune & raison sandwiches
& an inexhaustable
wealth of tone & light
flowing into
poetry & water

I lost weight
& composed myself
with luxurious
desperate pulses
rippling in & out
spreading upstream
& downriver

don't confuse art
with camouflaging yourself
in landscape

that happens later
up the crem
down the pit


below a certain temperature
there can be no reaction

one night as I
conducted clouds

the sky kicked & split
earthing through me

making me brilliant &
dumb with shock

Harriet Smithson
was Ophelia then Juliet

was Shakespeare writing
much of my future

she singed & sang my surfaces
stewed my innerness

every molecule touched by
irreversible change

sleep escaped from
strange nocturnal presence

tracking me across the
room & world

another chorus of feelings


I trod the Paris streets
like time

& through all that madness
I can count the bouts of sleep

on the fingers
of her left hand

  • collapsed in a dark field of corn
    on the edge of the city

  • worn out in any meadow
    under autumn sun

  • burrowed in snow banked up
    on the banks of the Seine

  • with my head on the table
    between my own knife & fork
    in the Café du Cardinal

not reassuring the waiters


& that sudden
of dark matter
within transformed
for ever the gravities
& orbits of my
life I wrote back
to Shakespeare
& I wrote back to her
the configuration
of my inner river
& the devastated
landscape of my
floating heart
after the flood

leave it out on Tuesdays


the whole world

the empty bed

your absent river


I practically dragged
Lesueur to
Beethoven's 5th

he was so scared
of giving an opinion

Christ he was
so moved &
that at the end
he went to put
                  his hat on
& couldn't find
his head


worshipping Harriet
from afar
I didn't notice
Camille breathing
next to me
teaching piano
piano as I
taught guitar
to shadows


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