Part Three

 


1


so gifted so
what is that
it's not just
Camille though
there's Mme Moke
moanin' mini
the mother
whose forearms
are forewarned











2


she wants to
know exactly how
her baguette
will be buttered

sister Nanci
what you said
about our
fortune being
founded only
on our talents
worried her a lot

straightening doilies
till they tear











3


Camille Camille
I love the dark
hair of her
looking through
her blue sky eyes
at who the
hell am I
         when she told me
she loved me
my ears blinked
& stuttered











4


I just had to win
the Institute prize
for money status
& the gong
I resisted
each temptation
to compose
a Berlioz

I gave them
what they wanted
as the sounds
& vibrations of
revolution turned
streets & facades
to intimate whispers
my redeeming
percussion &
Promised Land
Camille & sound











5


for three glorious days
the people were sublime

I even heard them singing
Berlioz in the street
                      my War Song

I went to join in
without letting on
& over ambitiously
tried to right the tempo
as the crowd grew
& the times changed

we could hardly move

three National Guardsman
kept audience & choir apart
& even passed around
their caps in a whip-round
for those injured
in the uprising

people coughed up
as much for the absurdity
as for the victims

we reversed like dogs
guided by sheep

& backed into the
Galerie Colbert
hemmed in & squeezed
to sing again
from the upstairs window
of a haberdasher's shop

what else but the Marseillaise?











6


everyone stood nicely
shut up & listened

as we held forth
like the bloody Pope

circumambient silence
verse after verse after verse

until I shouted SING

& damn me if they
didn't all start singing
simultaneously
in that confined space

a perfect performance
unscripted & refined

full of ragged passion
like the voice of France

for a moment I passed
out on that wave

I won the Prix de Rome
& scuttled around
the Institute with the biggest
hair in Europe











7


when the Symphonie fantastique
was performed even moaning
Mini Moke was impressed

we are to marry
Camille & I
when I return from Rome

in the morning
I leave for the south

my parents' house
& then the Alps

I have the Prix de Rome
& thus am exiled for months

away from the sites of my art
& heart

it's not the right time
it goes without saying
there is no such thing











8


I couldn't face the mid-winter Alps
so I headed for the port of Marseilles

I've seen cosier graveyards
in the rankest armpits of Paris

than the stinking sties that bobbed there
moored inside the biggest piss-pot in the world

after days steering clear of the worst
wrecks stenches & villains I bumped into

some simpatici Italians bound for
Livorno on a Sardinian brig

we had to feed    & fend for  ourselves
throughout the 4 day journey

so we stocked up for a week
& eased out onto the glittering sea

the Mediterranean miracle
& lunch in the salt & vinegar air

mixing Italian accents with French wine
our stories & songs became richer
strangers by the hour











9


in fact all the other passengers
were Italian

one claimed
to have captained
Byron's boat
down the coast of Italy
to Greece

I loved his
descriptions of gold-braid
alcohol & orgies
too much to demur

seven years now
since the great man died
it feels like none









 

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