At the Brass Rail (in conversation with Henry’s better half)
after John Berryman
Why Henry, Mr Bones?
…………. – You? Always but here you are.
Grease paint, the scent. Lip whitened,
gloves, that mask. You ask, why Henry?
Because, strolls the world Henry, the lyre;
at his throat, ballads.
At doors, knocks and is let in … “Come in,
dear Bones. A little pasta? Al dente done?”
And whores for all the world, does Henry.
Journeys to Palestine; me, at home, left.
Why Henry, then?
………….– Henry, because … & peeping out, his little eyes,
at storm his mind & flailing. Because, all of them,
up he counts up, is missing no-one, to God speaks.
Me, puts into drink, safe, the door shut. Watches
him load the gun (smirks) again counts. Here all.
Why Henry, John?
………….– Well, here’s the thing,
it sat down, once, on Henry’s heart.
When it broke
it broke like an egg
which goes straight from fridge to pan,
the fat already alive.
Tap, like an egg on a rim, like a knuckle
on a door, like shell against steel.
Time synches itself through the waist
of the glass …
a man walks in, doesn’t wash his hands.
Sit, she says.
if they ask
I’ll say: feed the birds, become a poet, live alone.
I doubt they will. They think I’m keeping busy,
making the best of it, glad they weren’t dealt
clubs instead of diamonds. They think
you’ve been dead for twenty years.