Poems Page 12


The chair is on fire
As he sits in the chair in his nightshirt
To smoke the last pipe of the evening

The house is on fire
And he smiles because he feels good
And the nightcap has smoothed his spirit

The house is on fire and the rafters are smoking
And the walls turn hot with repressing heat
While he thinks: Did I lock the front door?

Wake up! Wake up! The house is on fire –
But he thinks of a warm tub next to the stove
And a nice long soak to unwind

What a fool! What a dunce!
And his house in on fire
But he’s thinking of cash in the bank and his credit

And the old moon, belle dame, looks down from the night
Looks down from her orbit of ivory and satin:
Wake up! Wake up! Your house is on fire, old man

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An evil wind, a dreadful night, the gale’s effects
Embodied by the trees, the spirits and the intellect -
Who is there? What sings? Where is the diamond light?
Darkness and the jewel of apprehension, on this black night

Deep wind, dark wind, throatless is the sound,
Trees take wing and fly, clouds are rooted in the ground,
Night distorted, night that’s twisted, night of elemental shape
Night when every apparition is a mouthless gape

What source can send it? Where does it erupt?
I have sent these winds, you have caught them up,
I have sent them streaming to the furthest west
Now they are returning from the blinded east

Winds of desiccation, winds of human lust,
Winds of steady blowing, neither calm not gust,
I will stand beside you, you will stand with me,
Blow this evil wind of night by land and sea

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In a school for the mules can the pupil know more?
Can donkeys excel, can jackasses spell
What teachers can’t write?

War after war, famine and crime, time after time
The same ass’s error that leads to their terror –
Battle or flight

The young ones are foolish, the elders are mulish
They fight over straw with a kick and hee haw -
They’re cleverness proof

In the stable they jostle, their ears are colossal
But donkeys have never once learned to be clever -
They die on the hoof

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