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The Bourbon Baudelaire: A Set of Variations
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The Bourbon Baudelaire:
A Set of Variations

Out of “La Vie antérieure”

Long-lived beneath vast porticoesTint of sun on ocean times one thousand burnings,O great columns arrow straight, regal,Resembling in construct caves of basalt evenings.

Image-swollen skies rollConcealing something mysticallyAlmighty cloud-music overloadingSunset colors reflected in my gaze;

That’s where I dwelled in calm sensuality,Content in azure, waves’ splendors,Naked slaves who will—must—Get permeated with aromas, the scent of evil;

Who cooled my palms, knows,So for shallow caves deepeningPainful secret of my languishing.Who gets the raw deal here? [End Page 49]

Out of “La Chevelure” (another enslavement poem)

Lamb-fleece ripple collar!O nonchalant perfumeEcstatic peopled orderly alcoveAsleep in head of hair to shake out.

Languorous Asia, Burning Africa,Distance absent almost deadAromatic forest as other minds seek musicI swim on for perfume.

I will go under tree sap and nameSomething in parrot’s chattering desire,The canopy of beach umbrella shadow,Starving sea dazzling nightmare souls and their masts.

Elongating export wealth, past sensual drinksTo satisfy the yearning Western urge,Gliding vessels on silken waters open vastlyThe glory of continental drift in shark lanes.

Eternity trembles outside whirlwind’sHead-plunge, drunken lust, black oceanBlack sails othering me, patch of canvasRocking and craving leisure domes—Blue Hair!

Pavilion-stretched shadows return azureImmense globular sky of velvet edgesOf locks twisted on coconut mats and spires,Hand in your mane, scattering rubies, pearls, and sapphires

So that you’re never dead to my desireO ominous dream? Or not? The groundI guzzle memory from . . . ? [End Page 50]

John Kinsella

John Kinsella’s most recent books include the poetry collection Jam Tree Gully (W. W. Norton, 2012) and the collaborative work Redstart, with Forrest Gander (Iowa University Press, 2012). He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia.

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