new zealand electronic poetry centre


John Tranter 


After Laforgue 

I light a cigarette under the moon
and fling myself onto the grass, inhaling, inhaling:
trees without flowers, flowers without nectar,
nectar without alcohol: I wish you were here
beside me, Iíd talk until you were dizzy.

What was wrong with me, in my previous life?
Ardent, steely, mercurial Ė angry again.
I was in a fit of love, but I couldnít admit it,
and as for you: bellicose, unreachable,
as self-contained as a wardrobe with its vanity mirror
on the shut side of the door... you
with your expensive little knapsack
and your plans for your singular future...
up there the stars are as plentiful as all the possible
games of chess, according to the scholarly apparatus,
according to the guard with his cap, lamp and whistle.

Married to my obligations I swim in the harbour,
and if Iím too fussy for happiness to visit
let me bathe in my luck Ė good or bad Ė
my wretched luck, if thatís all thatís on offer.
One day, far into the future, Iíll come to my senses:
cruising down the main street of a small town
where the moon, jealous of the abundant lighting,
draws the selvage of a cloud across her brow.

Now I speak in letters of Greek Fire
the better to spark your indifference, to
draw down your scorn Ė I mean admiration,
O princess of fisticuffs: intricate patterns of vowels,
spells that sparkle and promise to outlast metal Ė
speak to you, in your boots, in your jacket, in the
steel car you drive through the shell of your future.

Last updated 12 October, 2003