Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sergei Yesenin

Happy Birthday, Sergei Yesenin 
(September 21, 1895 - December 27, 1925)

The  yellow-hued rope you hung yourself with
still swings in Moscow, back and forth, back and forth.
When he got the news, Stalin danced in mockery of Isadora.

Five marriages in twelve years can wreck a man:
Anna Izryadbnova was the first song of love,
Zinaida Raikh sprinkled lemon juice on the sheets,
going-fat Isadora gave you a taste of American bourbon,
and you hitched-up with Augusta Miklasheyskaya
before butter could melt on Isadora's rye bread toast.
Before there were movie stars, there were poets.
Perfumed silken girls, girls fresh from ten-chicken villages,
begged you to tease, to suck and love them...
more girls than all the wind-blown fir trees in Russia.
Vodka, vodka, more vodka... and more love:
poet Nadezhda Volpin gave you a poet son.
Near the break-furniture, set-fire-to-hotel-rooms, end,
Sophia --Leo Tolstoy's granddaughter-- dragged you
to a hospital for a no-vodka, screaming month.

Now, on the other side, how do you, and Jim Morrison,
and Georg Trakl, grind-out eternity?  Do you run into Stalin?
Is there a heaven with peace?  Is dinner served promptly at five?
Do the wives, all five, and the girlfriends, hundreds of girlfriends,
offer sunrise kisses as you prepare to sleep all day long?

You might like it here, Sergei.  Toaster waffles for breakfast.
Dark tea.  No smashed-head cadavers... like the ones
Stalin's thugs dragged you past to change your poetry.
Here it's as quiet as the skittering of brittle autumn leaves. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Dirge for Paul Funge

 Paul Funge
1944 - 2011

A Dirge for Paul Funge

It was an exaltation of pure joy... the painting,
the friendships near and windblown.
Now it's better to laugh, stifle a growl...
better to remember us drunk in San Francisco,
a short walk to the surf, snug and well fed
in a surviving '06 quake Victorian,
bombastic for art and poetry...
four decades ago... how you passed out
on a wide couch in a bottle-clogged
front room, my Irish Wolfhound, Bran,
curled at your feet, proprietary guard
of your sleep, your dreaming of new paintings.

How could we have known, that afternoon
in Gorey, Wexford, us in our twenties,
when James Liddy walked me through 
your new festival, when you talked, joked
a verse-wilted sweet-nippled girl
into my arms, annointing me,
The new crazy-great Yank poet...
how could we have known, in that Gaelic sun,
that the nicotine-yellow fish-scale-fleshed 
Abaddon of the Bottomless Pit
would stalk us, trip us into the icy
trap of lights-out codgerhood?

All these decades... no words between us.
My fault the silence.  Wheeling onward with poems.
Giving sweet Kate babies.  Never gathering wit
long enough to at least send you a postcard.
Tonight it's not nearly enough to grieve-stare
at your paintings, luminous on a techno-screen.
Yet that is what your friends must get by on:
the luminous work, paintings you gave with joy.

 Kilmore Quay
Paul Funge

Landscape with Dark Clouds
Paul Funge