This is an epic: shrunk, crabbed, and small, Full of false-effects, self-pity, the merely personal, A Don Juan who lambastes not the passing scene But all that has-been Juan may be, or is, or has been. Where more loving looks would gloss a blemish The critic's eye inscribes a scar to cherish, For every jot that takes away from fame, frame, or form Bolts the sniping critic thus much more above the norm. I spy inside to sight with telescopic sighs The whys of my feelings' reasons: Interloper on a landscape without seasons -- Why are such thoughts always such internal messes? Insistent blots and bleeding Awful as a Rorsach reading? Or are summer ladies in their swaying dresses The carnal cause of my distresses? (Your guess is as good as I guess my guess is.) Love's each word confirms what I suspect: Disaster's the master, and we but the guests. She sheds no sigh for any man's part, Whether the nether gender or simply his heart. On Time's high hill my glass house lies sheer, White licked-together ice panes as thin as tears--- I'll throw nothing as improbable as rocks But must content my anger by flinging dirty socks. When confronted by the bare barbarity Of a too-intimate, too-personal personal history The titillating crowd contracts a gassy gasp Into the actor's ruination of a yawn. Put away the hugs, unclench the hearty clasp, Poke about for the folded rulebook on Badminton Or dewy martinis not cleared away at dawn, Any of last season's or last night's amenable diversions, No worse for the weather on the party lawn. "But I have a tale to tell you!" he told the mirror As a minor chord played in the castle dreary, And like a lawyer at a settlement Between heavenly disputants temporarily hellbent He unpacked his tale like a holy relic. He tried, when talking, talking about his happenstance To concentrate Pure Mind from nominal Space. Somehow somewhere something means something As we fill with ephemeral words our eternal dumbness. And ever the bleak bitterness of Love is present, Awkward to forget, awkwarder to remember, A golden goose whose taste has turned to pheasant: Sour to eat, but the killing's pleasant. Leaning with a highpower scope on my pickup's fender, I forget at once who was the first offender. A kiss is just a kiss, for all our wishing And love is just another way for brains to say "gone fishing." And yet what hopes are harbored in a sigh To which all the pall of History can't manage to give the lie? And somehow behind Love's final curtain The essential something-nothing of ourselves is lurking. To say that these things are only so, That, in the course of life, such heinousness is usual Is to dodge the lodging dart that conscience pricks And with our green tequilas reel About the empty garden like a crypt. It doesn't make much difference If you're in the Congo, Buenos Aries, or France Time can add no savor but regret To what the hand has done, what heart inflicts. Yet I may say, like the newscaster at six "Once Upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away I loved." Such a rare occurrence Can't be measured by existential stirrings and segues: It's the internal turnings of that monster Fate That makes our mousing loves or hatreds great. Is my mauve eagle of presidential pinion, Or am I but a seraph's wingman? Public puffs and public scrapes Suck divinest wines back to earthy grapes.