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The great hearted maid that made you so jealous
Sleeps her sleep in the humble grass
I think that we should bring her some flowers
The dead, the poor dead, have such deep sorrows
And when October, who bares the old trees to their bones
Blows his somber wind around the headstones
Surely they must view the living with chagrin
To sleep, as we do, so snug in our linens
While they are consumed by black rumination
Without a bed partner, without conversation
These frozen old skeletons sculpted by the worm
Feeling every drip of snowmelt that Winter can germ
And the centuries pass without friend or estate
To replace the dead tatters that hang from the grate
If some evening while the fire whistles and sings
I saw her sit, calm in her chair, placidly rocking
If on a blue and cold night in December
I found her by the fire, raking the embers
Solemnly returned from her eternal nowhere
To swaddle again the child raised under her care
What could I answer that pious soul in reply
When I saw the tears falling from her excavated eye?

[View original poem here.]

One might clad you like a bride in white
While another dresses you in mourning, O Nature
Who puts the first one on a stretcher
Says to the other: splendor and light

A nameless conjurer I enlist
He gives me such a bout of gastritis
He’s turned me into another Midas
The saddest possible alchemist

Through him I change gold to lead
And heaven into hell instead
Inside a tangle of winding clouds
I find the bones of a friend long dead

And on the shores of celestial riverbeds
I assemble caskets for the dearly departed

[View original poem here.]

When Don Juan went down to the underground sea
And when he had given his coin to Charon,
That old beggar, proud as Antisthenes
With vengeful arms set the sea churning
With sullen oars set the sea churning

Displaying their breasts through their flimsy white frocks
Women writhed underneath the black heavens
And, like a herd of sacrificial cattle
They followed behind him moaning
They trailed behind him moaning

His old valet, laughing, demanded his pay
While Don Luis his aged hands shaking
Showed to the dead wandering on the shores
The bold son who mocked his voice breaking
Who mocked his white beard and voice breaking

Now shivering with grief, chaste Elvira
Near the treacherous spouse once her lover
Seemed to beseech him for one final smile
As sweet as the one he first gave her
As sweet as the one he first gave her

A statue, erect in his armor
Stands at the helm the night parting
But the calm hero, leaning upon his sword
Stares into the wake and deigns to see aught
Stares into the wake and deigns to see aught

[See original here.]

Can we smother the ancient Remorse
That squirms and prods and pokes
And feeds on us like a worm on a corpse
Like the beetle on the oak?
Can we smother the relentless Remorse?

In what potion, in what brew, what wine
Can we drown this old irritant,
Destructive and greedy as the concubine,
As patient as the ant?
In what potion, in what brew, what wine?

Say it, beautiful witch, if you know,
In this age filled with gloom
Tell the dying man crushed below
The fleeing horse’s shoe
Say it, beautiful witch, if you know,

This tortured man the wolf already tracks
The wolf who follows the raven,
Tell this broken soldier! Must he go black
A tomb his only haven?
This poor dying man the wolf already tracks.

Can you even brighten a sky that’s so dark?
Can we tear through the shadows?
Denser than pitch, admitting no spark
No evening star or afterglow
Can you brighten sky so dark?

Hope shone through the windows of the Inn
But now has it sputtered and died
Now without even a pale moon to shine
We wander a cursed countryside
The Devil has darkened the lights of the Inn!

Adorable witch, do you love the damned?
Are you in league with the unrepentant?
Do you steady the wavering hand
That aims at our hearts venomous darts?
Adorable witch, are you in love with the damned?

The Irreparable gnaws with cursed tooth
Our being, such a futile monument,
Like a termite devouring from cellar to roof
Until we collapse in debasement.
The Irreparable gnaws with cursed tooth.

II

I used to see, when attending some theater show
The stage enflamed by the orchestral blare,
A fairy light in a sky with fire aglow
A dawn miraculous and rare
I used to see, when attending some theater show

A being, light, golden, and gauze
Overwhelming a Demon cruel and great
My poor heart, that never from trouble withdraws
Is the theater where I await
Always, always in vain, this creature with wings of gauze!

See original here.

Cupid is perched on the skull
Of humanity
Roosting like an infidel
Laughing brazenly

He gaily blows bubbles around
They softly ascend in the sky
Seeking out new celestial ground
In the by and by

Each frail and luminous bubble
Rides an astral stream
Then bursts and ejects its spindly soul
Like a golden dream

With each bubble the skull exclaims
Please to me attend
Oh, This fierce, ridiculous game
When will it ever end?

For what your bestial hole
Scatters in the wind
Is my blood, you murderous troll
My body and my mind!

See original here.

Any man who calls himself so
Has in his heart a yellow serpent
Installed as on a throne discontent
When man says “I want,” Snake says “No!”

Plunge into the eyes transfixed
Of Satyr or Nix
The snake says “Remember your duty!”

Plant a garden, have a brood
Polish verse or carve wood
Snake asks “is this your last night among beauty?”

Whether or not he pays the piper
Man does not pass a single morning
Without suffering the flickering warning
Of the unendurable viper!

[Original poem here.]

It is bitter and sweet, on winter nights,
To listen, by a fire that smokes and throbs
While distant memories take gentle flight
To the sound of chimes singing in the fog

Blessed bell of vigorous throat
Hale and alert, despite your great age
You humbly cry out in sanctified notes
Like an old soldier who camps in the sage

But my soul is cracked, and when she longs
To fill the cold night air with her songs
More often than not her voice is thin
Like the death rattle of a wounded man

Lying in blood, under a mound of dead
Who dies, without stirring, in a pang of dread.

See original here.

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