Marianne Moore

The face
         that has come down to us
                   through the photographs
         is of an elderly lady–white hair
                   beneath a broad-brimmed black

         A face that bears the soft creases but not
                   the deep lines of age; the eyes incisive
         and captivating as any disenfranchised tiger’s;
                   a wry, generous smile tightly-

          in the knowledge that silence
                   is a most auspicious friend
         to the judicious poet.
                   Her poetry: a

         in which we would-be
         might immerse ourselves
                   and grow ever so youthfully older,

         contempt only of all that is
                   small-minded, artificial,
         artless and
                   conspicuously untrue.


For the repose of John Berryman

A clone met in a clearing sprouts a salt and pepper
beard and speaks from below a gentle frown, furrowed
by the unbridled years of empty, dyspeptic houses
in which only old things ever re-offended and even
the tears appeared to break laws. Picture him
seated thus with high forehead, so inclined as to
nestle his profound intelligence on the palm
of his aging hand, all future movements of stone within,
and yet gracefully beyond his grasp, all the niceties
of distance and dream Book of Job despair
writ in words of wrought iron. “Brush away
them words that to you do no favours, Mr Bones,”
quoth quietly the alter ego. Quite. We pray: wipe
away those words pure and simple as one would, say,
the cigarette smoke that heavenlywards winds its way
from betwixt insubordinate and pain-stained fingers.
“My God, my God, why have you so utterly abandoned
me so,” mutters finally the altared ego. Tetelestai.

NoteTetelestai, supposedly Christ’s final words before he died on the cross, signifying “it is finished”.