From a Balcony
Versus hacked email backslash failed bancomats
(electronic gremlins in the works
or worse, what makes edgy neurotics
of us all) this therapeutic paean:
How those slow low-floating aerostats
of cumulus maintain due distance;
a breeze proceeding without hindrance;
the blue pitched serene, sunblent, perfect,
neither glitch nor issue to inflict.
Loosely based on Martial, Book VI, 43
While you whoop it up Saint Tropez,
Baia or the Maldives, give me any day
the languor of this eighth floor stay-
cation back in Rome. (Not needing to pay
for an airfare, a computer-shy
old codger’s also spared the stress of online
booking.) Ok, you’ve got the jacuzzi,
the microlight, the surfboard, the rent-a-car.
Top resort in one’s own horizon,
just watching clouds and others’ jets go by
is six-star bliss, the life of Riley:
Books abound; for a chat venture no farther
than downstairs: there’s Vera our portiera.
Thirsty? Round the corner is Bar Rosie.
Martial, 90-2019 AD
I. Apophoreta: Book/CD Cabinet, An Improvisation on Martial Book XIV, XXXVII: Scrinium
Selectos nisi das mihi libellos,
Admittam tineas trucesque blattas.
Here’s a gift for storing only what lasts –
Not Suburra’s poetasters/ plagiarists
Nor your latest Jeff Archer, Wilbo Smith,
Still less most rappers, Tarantinoesque vids.
That the third millennium’s fanta-sadists
are anything but modern cf.
Martial’s misgivings about ancient myth
or epic, their gory bash-bish-bash,
riproaring rape and outrage, a death
toll beside which the direst News-flash
seems tame: This Scrinium De Luxe comes with
built-in quality control; it’ll admit
for each unworthy a no-nonsense critter –
corrective cockroach, prompt discerning moth.
II. Martial at VI A.M.
Streaks of dawn above the Suburra
and not even a porter is astir:
Poets come down in the world since Virgil,
I join the line, one more rag-taggle
toga counting on his morning sportula,
weary-bones to this and that so-called ‘Sir’.
Goodbye Maecenas’s cornucopia,
hopefully it’ll tide me through till dinner.
Meanwhile payment, like my verse, gets thinner.
Between levée and next snatched siesta
like a crossbowman his ballista
I tighten epigrams, sharpen aperçus
wreaking nothing worse than an eureka
of knowing laughter: Mistreatment turns Muse.
Border Incident, Benin/Nigeria
Less the prodigal than absent-minded son,
I’d forgotten your re-entry visa.
Drawing on acting skills that could have done
Dame Peggy Ashcroft proud, you addressed
the officer and his stretch of desk, ‘Sir,
we’ve committed a grave offence. I request
I be sent to prison without delay.
Only let my son proceed on his way;
he has lessons to teach.’ Big man, bouche-bée,
between shock and kindness let both of us go.
Engine oil refilled to stop over-heating,
again my Beetle lapped up the laterite,
Customs Post a mote inside its rear-
view mirror. Mum recast as hero,
our odyssey continued across a river
and – odum or iroko – into the trees.
Syntax wound tight
As any balestra –
Each dash comes tipped with thought –
Centuries the range –
Our gentle Laureate
Takes aim – Again rhyme
Lands benignly home –
Salving heart and brain.