Louis Jansen van Vuuren. Weke van water en die recumbentibus oomblik

 

Weke van water en die recumbentibus oomblik

Dit het ophou reën. Daar was bitter min son die laaste paar weke en ek het dit oorweeg om ‘n vlot te bou, sommer met afval kwaste en stomp-getekende potloodstele  – herdenkende aan die ark van ouds. Die eindbestemming :  berg Ararat. Droë grond.  (Gelukkig het my honde webvoete anders was hulle in die groeiende moeraswêreld verdwene.)

’n Paar nuwe bundels het die rokerige klam Meimaand draagliker gemaak. Uit Jacob Polly se nuwe bundel The Havocs.  Picador. 2012

Doll’s House

 

A table set with tiny plates,

the chairs around the paper fire:

diminishment has simplified

the aims and objects of desire,

while blinder faith must still provide

the mincemeat in the wooden cakes,

 

the creaking stair and wind outside.

For you have held your breath to peer

along the shelves of depthless books

lining a room where nothing’s read;

and now, effortlessly giant, look

up to the eaves and in at the beds.

 

Be brave. To live is not to fear

despite the scale of what’s at stake.

Two children lie in matchbox cribs.

Next door a couple, stiff as pegs,

are tucked together, rib to rib,

the bedsheets bound around their legs.

 

What happens if you turn away?

Every god has asked the same,

crouched on a sideboard, just in case

sudden little laughter shakes

a heaven like an empty house

where not a plate nor day will break.

 

&

 

On the Move at First Light

 

Empty morning and the rain lies,

filling the bare field with broken panes

of pink. To loosen, to empty!

To be as full of sky as fallen rain.

  

Robert Robertson is ’n Skotse digter, Hill of Doors is sy vyfde bundel. Picador. 2013.

 

Annunciation

after Fra Angelico

 

He has come from the garden, leaving

no shadow, no footprints in the dew.

They hold each other’s gaze at the point

of balance: everything streaming

towards this moment, streaming away.

 

A word will set the seed

of life and death,

the over-shadowing of this girl

by a feathered dark.

But not yet: not quite yet.

 

How will she remember the silence

of that endless moment?

Or the end, when it all began –

the first of seven joys

before the seven sorrows?

 

She will remember the aftersong

because she is only human.

One day

she’ll wake with wings, or wake

and find them gone.

 

 

Twee eksemplare van die the Paris Review en ’n handvol  New Yorkers beland in my klam posbus.

 Uit  the Paris Review Spring 2013: Sylvie Baumgartel

 

Picnic with Mom

 

She goes off to look for birds.

I go for a shot in the dark

With room for cream.

I sneeze.

We eat apple

And throw stones into the water.

Westinghouse lightbulbs make us look old.

Westinghouse blender makes us drunk.

I can’t build a fire for shit;

I’m not a Girl Scout.

She is tall in wooden shoes.

I am a whore in heels.

I put her braid in my mouth

And bite down hard.

  

Uit die The New Yorker May 27 2013

 

 

 

Colosseum

Jericho Brown

 

I don’t remember how I hurt myself,

The pain mine

Long enough for me

To lose the wound that invented it

As none of us knows the beauty

Of our own eyes

Until a man tells us they are

Why God made brown. Then

That same man says he lives to touch

The smoothest parts, suggesting our

Surface area can be understood

By degrees of satin. Him I will

Follow until I am rough outside

As I am within. I cannot locate the origin

Of slaughter, but I know

How my own feels, that I live with it

And sometimes use it

To get the living done,

Because I am what gladiators call

A man in love—love

Being any reminder we survived

 

 

Uit die the Paris Review Summer 2013

 

Henri Cole

Free Dirt

My house is mine:
the choice of menu, 
the radio and television, 
the unpolished floors, 
the rumpled sheets.

It’s like being inside
a rolltop desk. I have
no maid who takes care
of me. Sometimes, 
during breakfast,

I speak French with
a taxidermied wren. 
There is no debt
between us. We listen
to language tapes:

Viens-tu du ciel profound (Baudelaire)? 
Always, I hear a little oratorio
inside my head. Moths
have carried away my carpets, 
like invisible pallbearers.

I like invisibleness, 
except in the moon’s strong, 
broad rays. Some nights, 
I ask her paleness, Will I be okay? 
I am weak and fruitless at night,

like a piece of meat with eyes, 
but in the morning optimistic again, 
like a snowflake that has traveled
many miles and many years
to be admired on the kitchen pane.

Alone, I guzzle
and litter and urinate
and shout. Please do not
wake me from this dream, 
making meals from discrete

objects—a sweet potato, 
a jar of marmalade, 
a bottle of sauvignon blanc. 
Today, I saw a sign
in majuscule for FREE DIRT

and thought, We all have
chapters we’d rather keep
unpublished, in which we
get down with the swirl. 
The little wren perched on my

finger weighs almost nothing, 
just nails and beak. But it
gives me tiny moments—
here at my kitchen table—
like a diaphanous chorus

mewling something
about love, or the haze
of love, a haze that makes
me squint-eyed and sick
if I think too much about it.

What am I but this flensed
syntax, sight and sound, 
in which my heart, not
insulated yet, makes
ripple effects down the line?

In Juniemaand  staan plate irisse, geïrriteerd, in plasse louwarm reënwater rond… rol versigtig hul eerste flappe oop.

 

Iridaceae

 

The iris in spring, unfurls

it’s scented beard.

From a roaming rhizome

seeps the iridescent stain:

purple, blue and fixed magenta…

 

van al vyf

rooi riviere

moet ek drink :

oorleef =vergeet

om sonder dors

gedaanteloos

           te inkarneer

kladloos

wedergebore

geheueloos

lomerig

gewetenloos

lollend

        in die waters van die Lethe

 

LJvV

  

  

Nou’s dit Juliemaand en die somer breek soos doopwater oor ons oop. Als wat  kan kraai en krul  kantel koppe son se kant toe. Twee bundels op my tafel: grond/Santekraam van Ronelda S Kamfer en Nathan Trantraal se Chokers en Survivors. Laasgenoemde  het ’n vriendin sopas vir my gebring uit die Kaap . Sy het blykbaar op die vlug hiernatoe  so ’n bietjie daarin begin blaai – en die verse het haar kop-aan-kop getref.

Die spreekwoordelike recumbentibus moment. Sy moes die lugwaardin oortuig dat dit nie ’n oordaad van chardonnay was wat haar so laat wankel nie, maar  dat dit wel die dun boekie in haar hande is wat so kan skop.

Ek het die voorreg gehad om beide Ronelda en Nathan in Den Haag by die Festival voor het Afrikaans te hoor voorlees uit hulle bundels….daar het ek die eerste uitklophoue vierkantig op die ken gevat.

 

gaan i

 

ons moet gaan

die hele tyd ons

moet gaan

teenwinde hou

ons terug

maar gaan

is wat

ons moet

gaan weer

en weer

mettertyd gaan

ons moet

 

 

gaan ii

 

vergaan

vêr gaan

tydelik is alles

ver-heen en ver-weer

gaan daarmee heen

verlelik is goed

was

 

sovêr

so vêr

 

gaan iii

 

heen is

waar ons moet gaan

altyd heen

teen stormwinde sonde

moet gaan en

wegkom weer dit is

’n moet vir ons om te

gaan

en vir tyd om in tyd

binne-in stil te staan

 

 

Ronelda S Kamfer. grond/Santekraam. Kwela Boeke. 2011

 

 

Woensdag, 16 Februarie 1988

 

Ek is nog klein.

Ek staan allien innie agtejaat

by my ouma-hulle hys en ek voel sad

omdat ek wiet vandag isse boring, unimportant dag.

Ek wiet die dag het niks gedoen

watit worthy maak om onthou te wôtie.

Ek voel sad omdat ek wiet daa was al dysende dae

Soos dié wat ek al kla vegiet et.

’n Mens kyk trug op jou liewe ennie goed wat ytstaan,

Dai is vi jou jou liewe.

Maa dai issie die liewe nie.

Dai issie highlights reël.

Jou liewe isse klom dae wat niks gebee nie.

 

Ek stap narie wasgoed wat oppie lyn hang,

Ek sit my hand tien ’n nat handdoek

en ek dink ek gan nooit die dag vegietie.

 

Nathan Trantraal. Chokers en Survivors. Kwela Boeke. 2013

 

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33 Kommentare op “Louis Jansen van Vuuren. Weke van water en die recumbentibus oomblik”

  1. Murray La Vita :

    Louis
    Wat ‘n versnit! Baie dankie.

  2. Elmarie Kemp :

    Dankie! Sjoe! ….. Woensdag, 16 Februarie 1988!!

  3. Petre Prins :

    Hi Louis
    Jy inspireer. Jy gee my moed. Sien julle gou. Sien uit na jou skryfkursus.Petre

  4. Annette Taljaard :

    Dit laat mens lus kry om te grypna die pen.

  5. Magda Grisel :

    Encore!

  6. Réna Rauch :

    Oee! Ek neem dit sluk vir sluk op ‘n dag! Dis lieflik! Dankie!

  7. Louis van my hart. Ek het lekker ‘binne-in stil’ gestaan. Dankie

  8. Louis Jansen van Vuuren :

    Dankie vir die kommentare – dis als te danke aan ‘n skoot scripturienteit!

  9. Louis Jansen van Vuuren :

    Dankie, Daniel die drie gedigte van Ronelda is gelyktydig ryk en roerend eenvoudig.

  10. Louis Jansen van Vuuren :

    Daniel, ek ook…ek gaan ook nou Tristia weer lees!

  11. Louis Jansen van Vuuren :

    Pragtig, die tussenspel van end/ent en gaan/gang.
    Dankie Daniel,nou’s ek lus vir die hele ding.

  12. Louis Jansen van Vuuren :

    Genugtig, Ja!

  13. Andre Trantraal :

    There are old people who cling to museum piece Afrikaans, stuffy dusty academic oil canvas Afrikaans. I once visited the Kunsthalle in Munich. There was a gallery room full of Van Dycks. I would be greatly surprised if they did not own every Van Dyck on the planet. Van Dyck is of course remembered as a great portrait painter. He painted mostly rich people and royalty. Stylistically he was top notch. But all I felt when I looked up at all those dead rich people staring down from the walls over the century was disgust and revulsion. I needed to get out to go to a comic book shop somewhere and pick up a nicely drawn nicely written superhero comic (one must always have standards). Van Dyck’s dead rich white people: everyone of them immortalized in pretty Baroque oil slicks. In our more democratic times people do not need to hire a great painter to capture something of themselves. We are taught by television and in the print media and the ever-chattering mindless rest of it that we are all of us special; all of us if we wanted it enough could paint like Van Dyck. We do not need to be mere subjects of a great artist we can be great artisans ourselves. But instead of painting (an all but extinct artform) we write novels and poems. But all of us are not special. And all of us do not have sufficiently interesting life experiences. That is generally-speaking how I feel about Afrikaans literature. Van Dyck’s influence in portrait-painting particularly in English painting would be felt for a stultifying 150 years. He is Flemish so I assume his name rhymes with Van Wyk. As in, for instance, NP van Wyk Louw.
    Delange claims that Ronelda’s writing lacks philosophical depth. I would say that undue emphasis on philosophy in writing places the metaphysical cart before the concrete horse. Philosophy to my mind should emerge as naturally as poetry does. The way leaves do on a tree, to quote Keats a poet with whom Ronelda I would say has a lot in common. Delange talks about skilfull practitioners and truly skilfull practitioners; he refers to Ronelda’s work in the diminutive: to wit, ‘reeksie’. He reveals himself to be just another doddering befuddled curator in a dusty old museum.

  14. Andre Trantraal :

    I thought you would think it a touch infra dig to even reply; you certainly would have been better off had you not. Where to begin addressing your inane comments. First of all Nathan has only the highest respect and regard for the people he works with in the publishing industry. Secondly we do not consider ourselves to be anti-establishment; we do consider ourselves to be anti-mediocrity though. And anti-respectable-genteel-literary-petit bourgeois also. Thirdly while I do show off from time to time it is mostly to gain the favour of women I might happen to like, as, I suppose many young males do and definitely not to impress whomever might be reading here. Unless they happen to be intelligent goodlooking women. To be perfectly honest with you I talk about Wittgenstein and JM Coetzee and the foundational quest in Mathematics and Robert Burns and Charles Burns and Hayao Miyazaki and Vittorio Desica and Spiderman comics and Alison Bechdel and Vincent van Gogh and WG Sebald, to name but a few, all day and all of these often before lunch. Ok I plead guilty to showing off there just a little bit. Ronelda is my sister-in-law and someone dear to me. I cannot allow you to be as condescending to her as you were in your objectionable assessment of her work; certainly not without subjecting you to a little condescension of my own.

  15. Emma Huismans :

    Die bedreigde establishment wankel al weer op agterpote en smyt met woorde. Laat my dink aan toe Johann nog klein was en aan Lucas Malan se voete gesit het en gevra het oor wat is die rol van filosofie en Lucas boeke uit my rak begin pluk het vir die volgende vraag. Gilgamesh. Was dit toe. Haai oe ‘n anner Noach. Kom ons gebruik dit….

  16. Andre Trantraal :

    Woah! Johann. Chill. Jy was about ses posts geliede baie cooler. Andre speel maa met jou.Hy het rerig eintlik nie n chip op sy shoulder nie.En hy praat nie heeldag van al dai arty goed ie hy praat heeldag en nag oor muscle cars en vrouens.Beter?
    Of verstaan jy nie irony nie.

  17. Andre Trantraal :

    Emma ek hou van jou. In die land as jy nie n malcontent is nie is da iets seriously vekeed met jou brein. Jan Delange hie is n versie vi jou: Al sneller/word die fantome van die verlede/lelik gryser

  18. Louis Jansen van Vuuren :

    Wakker woorde wikkel hier –

    kom’s gaan terug na dit wat my tref in Ronelda se verse:

    gaan iii

    heen is
    waar ons moet gaan
    altyd heen
    teen stormwinde sonde
    moet gaan en
    wegkom weer dit is
    ’n moet vir ons om te
    gaan
    en vir tyd om in tyd
    binne-in stil te staan

  19. Webmeester :

    Op versoek van Johann de Lange word al sy kommentare nou verwyder. Die res van die inskrywings sal nog bly, tensy meer mense versoek dat hul kommentare verwyder moet word.

  20. Dalene Fowler :

    Ek het hierdie inskrywing en die kommentaar daarop begin volg omdat ek hou van o.a. die gedigte wat aangehaal word van Nathan Trantraal & Ronelda Kamfer.
    Synde nie ‘n skrywer, digter of akademikus nie (goddank!), het ek gedink Johann de Lange se kommentare – wat nou verwyder is – was in die algemeen nogal gemeen en bitsig.
    As sy (mislike?) kommentare sommerso verwyder kan word, wonder ek gewoon waarom hy dit versoek het?
    Jy kan tog nie op die internet gewoon doen wat jy wil en dan net vra dat als delete moet word nie?
    Huh?

  21. Joan Hambidge :

    Johann de Lange het aanvanklik ‘n polemiek begin met Daniel Hugo oor ‘n tersaaklike punt, naamlik of ‘n gedig van Louw vergelyk kan word met een van Ronelda Kamfer.

    In die algemeen nogal gemeen en bitsig?

    Ek dink dit is eerder van toepassing op ‘n paar ander inskrywings.

  22. Webmeester :

    Op versoek van Daniel Hugo word al sy kommentare by hierdie gesprekke ook verwyder. Let wel ons kolofon sluit in:
    “Kommentare sal ook op versoek van die skrywer verwyder word.- Red.”

  23. Emma Huismans :

    Ek dink ons verstaan almal hoekom Johann de Lange sy kommentaar laat verwyder het. Soort selfbehoud. Maar Daniel Hugo se kommentaar kon gerus gebly het. Dit was interessant en ‘n bydrae tot at least nadenke

  24. Johann de Lange :

    Jy hoef jou nie oor my selfbehoud te bekommer nie, Emma. Ek eet lesbene soos jy vir brekfis.

  25. Buiteblaf Breytenbach :

    Wat is ‘n “lesbeen”? Of bestaan dit slegs in die meervoud – soos, sê nou maar, “setlaars”? Klink vir my na die bene wat mens in die sop kry. Maar mens eet tog seker nie sop vir brekfis nie?

  26. Dalene Fowler :

    @ Joan Hambidge, ja die polemiek waarna jy verwys kon dalk interessant gewees het maar die debat het nie baie ver gevorder nie, het dit.
    Nadat Andre Trantraal sy eerste bydrae gelewer het, het dinge volgens my nogal baie vinnig baie nasty geraak —verwys asb. na die (nou) verwyderde kommentare.
    BTW, om vir iemand op ‘n openbare forum soos die iets te se soos ‘ek eet lesbene soos jy vir brekfis’ is regtig nogal onnodig- of hoe?
    (Ek is seker die ou wat hierdie inskrywing geplaas het, regret dit probably teen hierdie tyd thoroughly.)

  27. Desmond Painter :

    Goeie vader. The lesbeen said the better.

  28. Maria :

    Mnr BB, in (Suid-)Korea eet ‘n mens elke dag sop, rys, kimchi en een of meer sydissies vir ontbyt, middagete en aandete. Dit het ek vroeg-vroeg tot my verbasing uitgevind toe my mede-onderwysers gedurende die skoolmiddagete baie besorg vra wat ek vir ontbyt eet. Ek het (on)gelukkig alreeds die eerste aand op Suid-Koreaanse bodem gesien dat my gunsteling sondige ontbyt naamlik Kellogg’s se Cocopops beskikbaar was en was dus meer as geholpe m.b.t. ontbyt (ek het wel later baie begin verlang na Weet-Bix. Nou verlang ek soms woes na die Koreaanse seewiersop (miyeok gook) – wat NOG lekkerder proe met swart peper, so terloops – tot die Koreane het saamgestem (ek het daar altyd ‘n potjie swart peper in my handsak rondgedra; dit werk ook goed op die soms suur soms saai kimchi. Het u geweet die Koreane is die grootste knoffel-eters op die aardbol – dit was ook groot nuus vir my)).

    My punt: die wêreld bly nou maar eenmaal ‘n plek vol ongelooflike groot verrassings, soos Johann de Lange se opmerkings my ook heel onkant gevang het (persoonlik het ek dit verklaar as een of ander chemiese wanbalans)- ‘n mens bly maar “staan allien innie agtejaat”! ^^ (= Oorsterse smiley)

  29. Emma Huismans :

    Tja.. penopause het sy hormonale probleme

  30. Johann de Lange :

    Louis (JvV)

    Een van my gunsteling verse deur die Amerikaanse digter Henri Cole is sy ‘At the grave of Elizabeth Bishop’. Bishop se vriendskappe met digters soos Marianne Moore, Robert Lowell & May Swenson was intens & diep. Lg. het eweneens ‘n lieflike elegiese vers oor Bishop geskryf.

    At the Grave of Elizabeth Bishop
    Henri Cole

    I, detaching myself from the human I, Henri,
    without thick eyeglasses or rubberized white skin,
    stretched out like a sinewy cat in the brown grass
    to see what I felt, wrapping my tail around me,
    hiding my eyes.
    I slept. I waited. I sucked air,
    instead of milk. I listened to pigeons murmuring.
    Scratching my ear, I couldn’t tell if I was male or female.
    The bundled energy of my life drifted along
    somewhere between pain and pleasure,
    until a deerfly launched an attack
    and anger, like a florist’s scissors,
    pinched the bright chrysanthemum of my brain.
    Overhead, the long enfolding branches,
    weighted down with Venetian green,
    suffused the air with possibility.
    I felt like a realist, recovering from style.
    Grief and dignity swirled around discreetly,
    transferring to me an aura of calm,
    as I lay in a shawl of gold light,
    licking my paws, licking my throat,
    my smooth imperturbable face revealing nothing,
    even when I thought about my first loves,
    surface and symbol, rubbing against me,
    humping in the shadows, making my whole body tremble.
    I purred, watching an iridescent blue beetle
    imbibe chlorophyll from a leaf.
    I flared my nostrils, hearing a starling
    splash in an amphora of rainwater.
    With my paws in the air, exposing my ripe belly,
    I rubbed my spine, a little drunk on the ultraviolet rays
    and on myself, I confess.
    Then the sky cleared. Birds were flying.
    I felt a deep throbbing, as from a distant factory,
    binding me to others, a faint battering of wings against glass
    that was the heart in the lovely dark behind my breast,
    as I was crouching to tie my shoelaces,
    feeling strange in the meaty halves of my buttocks,
    until I sprinkled a little earth on my head,
    like Hadrian reunited with the place he loved.

    *

    In the bodies of words
    May Swenson

    For Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

    Tips of the reeds silver in sunlight. A cold wind
    sways them, it hisses through quills of the pines.
    Sky is clearest blue because so cold. Birds drop down
    in the dappled yard: white breast of nuthatch, slate
    catbird, cardinal the color of blood.

    Until today in Delaware, Elizabeth, I didn’t know
    you died in Boston a week ago. How can it be
    you went from the world without my knowing?
    Your body turned to ash before I knew. Why was there
    no tremor of the ground or air? No lightning flick
    between our nerves? How can I believe? How grieve?

    I walk the shore. Scraped hard as a floor by wind.
    Screams of terns. Smash of heavy waves. Wind rips
    the corners of my eyes. Salty streams freeze on my face.
    A life is little as a dropped feather. Or split shell
    tossed ashore, lost under sand… But vision lives!
    Vision, potent, regenerative, lives in bodies of words.
    Your vision lives, Elizabeth, your words
    from lip to lip perpetuated.

    Two days have passed. Enough time, I think, for death
    to be over. As if your death were not before my knowing.
    For a moment I jump back to when all was well and ordinary.
    Today I could phone to Boston, say Hello… Oh, no!
    Time’s tape runs forward only. There is no replay.

    Light hurts. Yet the sky is dull today. I walk the shore.
    I meet a red retriever, young, eager, galloping
    out of the surf. At first I do not notice his impairment.
    His right hind leg is missing. Omens…

    I thought I saw a rabbit in the yard this morning.
    It was a squirrel, its tail torn off. Distortions…

    Ocean is gray again today, old and creased aluminum
    without sheen. Nothing to see on that expanse.
    Except, far out, low over sluggish waves, a long
    clotted black string of cormorants trails south.
    Fog-gray rags of foam swell in scallops up the beach,
    their outlines traced by a troupe of pipers —
    your pipers, Elizabeth! — their racing legs like the spokes
    of tiny wire wheels.

    Faintly, the flying string can still be seen.
    It swerves, lowers, touching the farthest tips of waves.
    Now it veers, appears to shorten, points straight out.
    It slips behind the horizon. Vanished.

    But vision lives, Elizabeth. Your vision multiplies,
    is magnified in the bodies of words.
    Not vanished, your vision lives from eye to eye,
    your words from lip to lip perpetuated.

  31. Michelle :

    That awkward moment when someone falls, flat on their face,, gets up and starts singing the redemption song…

    No dear, we saw you, you fell. Fail.

  32. Louis Jansen van Vuuren :

    Ek het in die New Yorker die eerste keer met Henri Cole kennis gemaak – wat ‘n ervaring. Ek het juis sy bundel, Touch op bestelling. Blykbaar meestal sonnette. Ek hou die posman dop.

  33. Johann de Lange :

    Hy skryf ‘n baie afgewerkte soort vers. Iets wat ek ook gedink het jy sou van hou, is “Pompeian Wall Painting”. Ek het nog nie ‘Touch’ onder oë gehad nie, maar ‘The visible man’ is ‘n uitstekende bundel.

    Pompeian Wall Painting
    Henri Cole

    First Style

    To become oneself is so exhausting
    that I am as others have made me,
    imitating monumental Greek statuary
    despite my own feminized way of being.
    Like the empire, I was born of pain –
    or like a boy, one might say, for I have
    become my father, whom I cannot fathom;
    the past is a fetish I disdain.
    Since they found the bloodless little girl,
    with voluptuous lips, buried in me,
    I am unsentimental. I do not see
    the gold sky at sunset but blackbirds hurled
    like lava stones. I am like a severed
    finger lost in the wreckage forever.

    Second Style

    Unable to care for people, I care
    mostly for things. At my bitterest,
    I see love as self-censorship.
    My face is a little Roman theater
    in perfect perspective – with colonnades
    and landscapes – making illusionistic
    reference to feelings I cannot admit.
    Painted in Dionysiac yellows and reds,
    my unconscious is a rocky grotto
    where flies buzz like formalists.
    Despite myself, I am not a composite
    of signs to be deciphered. In the ghetto –
    where Jews, prostitutes and sailors once lived –
    I am happiest because I am undisguised.

    Third Style

    Tearing away at an old self to make
    a new one, I am my most Augustan.
    I grieve little. I try to accustom
    myself to what is un-Hellenized and chaste.
    I let my flat black dado assert itself
    without ornament. Can it be, at last,
    that I am I – accepting lice clasped
    to me like a dirty Colosseum cat?
    On a faded panel of Pompeian red,
    there’s an erotic x-ray of my soul:
    a pale boy-girl figure is unconsoled,
    pinned from behind at the farthest edge
    of human love, where the conscience is not whole,
    yet finely engraved like a snail’s shell.

    Fourth Style

    If great rooms declare themselves by the life
    lived in them, each night I am reborn
    as men and boys stroll among the ruins,
    anonymously skirting the floodlights,
    sinking into me tenderly, as they do
    each other during their brief hungry acts.
    “As brief as love,” they used to say, Plato
    and his kind, exiling man from happiness,
    but I am more than a cave whose campfire,
    swelling and contracting, is all that is real.
    Tomorrow, when I am drunk on sunlight,
    I will still feel the furtive glances,
    the unchaste kisses and the wet skin
    imprinting me until I am born again.

    The visible man (Knopf, 1988)