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I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

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I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

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I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

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James A. Michener

An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.

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James A. Michener

An age is called Dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.

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Are Women Weak?

Around the world women
Are considered weak
Making them invisible


In most societies
Demarcation lines at front and rear
Women stand putting themselves in gear
Working in fear
'At home is where she should be'
But her inner eyes help her to see
That she will be free

Are women weak?
Doing the work of man
'Yes! they can.

Keeping the house from a band
Working as hard as any man
Are women weak?

Expecting nothing but doing everything
Enough to make ones heart sing
A goddess in her own right


Deeply crying in the night,
But never losing sight
Are women weak?

Taking up where the man left off
Leaving her the boss...
The unheard of she does

Her voice slowly whispers
'I'll be free the woman in me'
Punish me if you most


I can rise from the dust
Are women weak?
Having a child here and there

Maybe that is not fair,
And that make no delays
Even when the man is out to play


The best thing that ever
Happen to man for man
Is a Woman right in his hand


Given props to his plans
Thinking that world is his land
Forgetting of God's touch

Who loves woman just as much
'Foolish, foolish, man'.
Are woman weak?


Women suffer because men refuse to see
Woman is just like he
Man do not understand that


They are cool just keeping woman Fat.
Not in heels but in flats
Imagine that.


Are women weak?
The fear men have makes him strong
By God he know he's wrong

Still a woman works hard and long
Are women weak?
Woman no matter where you may be
You have a friend in me.

whisperkwane

kwane@mail.com

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The Minds of Those Like These

The escalation of a hatred,
By those accustomed to doing it...
Produces for them great sorrow.
And on borrowed time,
They proceed to show themselves...
Out of their minds with a choice to grieve.

Incredible.
Incredible...
Wh at people know.
What people know..
And find it,
Hard to believe.
And,
Incredible.
Incredible...
What people know.
What people know...
And find it,
Hard to conceive.

Self seekers enforcing to impose their will,
For the purpose to fulfill...
The prophesy of their demise.
So unwise are they who do not pay attention.
So unwise are they who do not listen!
As they forge ahead,
In disbelief of what has been 'envisioned'.
Or comprehend words to them said.
As they forge ahead,
Strickened by positions...
That restrict their minds to limited conditions.

Incredible.
Incredible...What people know.
What people know..
And find it,
Hard to believe.
And,
Incredible.
Incredible...
What people know.
What people know...
And find it,
Hard to conceive.

The escalation of a hatred,
By those accustomed to doing it...
Produces for them great sorrow.

And no tomorrows come to those,
Making attempts to dethrone and dispose...
Of truth and the existence of it,
Because they refuse to 'see'.
Instead of reacting emotionally,
To rapid revelations.
Programmed and delivered by the 'Deities'.

Incredible.
Incredible...
What people know.
What people know..
And find it,
Hard to believe.
And,
Incredible.
Incredible...
What people know.
What people know...
And find it,
Hard to conceive.

It is hard to believe,
How people live and they deceive!
It is hard to believe people who seek no remedy.
Incredible.
Incredible...
The minds of those like these.

Incredible.
Incredible...
The minds of those like these.

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Patrick White

Answering The Wolf

Answering the wolf.
Its agony, my own.
Its long howl of irreproachable pain
enough to silence the mountains
with trepidation before something holy.
Desecration. A photo. Two dozen wolf corpses
pouring over the tail-gate of a pick-up.
The bounty of two happy hunters
kneeling beside their rifles
as if something had been accomplished
it would be worth telling their children about.
Hard truth. Here is a human. My species.
It can do this to anything that lives.
From blue algae to Auschwitz,
Uganda, Syria, Wounded Knee.
Whales, buffalo, Sabra and Shatila, the Amazon,
twenty-five million famished children a year,
an avalanche of wolves at the back of a pick-up.
Beyond wanting to know why
there's this black spot
in people's hearts and minds,
where sentience turns rabid,
where intelligence seems
the most inspired enabler of death,
where the wine of empathy turns into an oil slick,
how do you answer the innocence
of the wolf, the child, the old growth forest?
Life gets in the way of our enterprising hatred of it?

You kill a wolf. You kill a whole landscape.
You kill a wolf. And the moon marks you out
with an X on your forehead
for a thousand excruciating transformations.
You kill a wolf. And the rivers
will turn against you and bide their time
until you come down to the water to drink
from your own blood-stained reflection.
The sun will begrudge you a shadow.
The wind feel fouled by your smell
like dead meat in your own house well.
Even the maggots who will come
to your heart one day
like undertakers and garbage-collectors
will look upon it not
as the virtue of a noble enemy
but as an undertaking that's beneath them.
They will not stoop to clean your body like a wound.

Wolf-spirit, wolf-heart, wolf-mind, wolf-mother,
even the white-tailed buck laments
this atrocity of psychotic caprice
that slaughters simply because it can.
I see the moon bare its fangs in proxy for these
and the stars dip their spears in poison.
And I will dance around the fire with you
mad with grief at this wounded eye of life
and smear my face with the ashes of a deathmask
to regret everything about me that is
pathogenetically deranged and inhuman.
To rid myself of the reek of those who could do this.
Do this to our own. Do this to natives.
Do this to wolves. Do this to the air and the water
they breathe and drink from. Do this ultimately
to themselves when there's no one left to care or notice.
These kill to eat.
These eat to kill. You and all like you
who did and condone this, I ask you,
what will you do with the bodies of these wolves?
You never ravened for the meat;
was it their death that glutted your heart?
Were you compensating for some hidden impotence
giddy with the knowledge you could
extinguish life anywhere on the planet on a whim at will?
Were you urinating on your own wombs,
the graves of your ancestors because
you're the illegitimate runt of your own myth of origins?
Are you angry at life because you were born?
Do you despise the rose and admire the thorn?
I see the narrowing in the eyes of the ancient taboos
you've violated like thresholds with your boots on,
bruising sacred ground without knowing
where it is you walk or the risk you take,
the danger you will encounter,
because you have been made deaf, dumb, and blind
robbed of your eyes, ears, tongue, heart, mind
insensate to what now lifts its nose to the wind
to find you when you least expect it
from the least expected quarter.

These you killed. You killed in the concrete,
and exonerate the act in the abstract.
These were blood, flesh, fur, bone, each
with a mystic specificity of its own,
wild, free, whole, intelligent, and communal
each the work of some unknown muse of life,
the spontaneity of some lavish genius,
the inspiration of the same dark mother
that never creates the same masterpiece twice.
These had seeing, mind, emotion.
These had been touched by the mystery of life
and in the shrines of the trees and the mountains
offered their delirium up to the moon
like drunks beneath a vacant window
singing to their own reflections. These
accepted their homelessness in this strange place
without doing it any harm as if
there were no other place they could belong to.
These were at peace with themselves and the earth
in a way you weren't born with the courage to imagine.
These were alert and alive and quick with curiosity.
These were noble without lording it over anyone.
Were they executed for their innocence?
Was there not enough room in your cage
for their kind of freedom? Did you envy
an understanding they had among each other
you haven't enjoyed once in the last twenty years
you stayed drunk as a gun lobby in a lazy-boy
staring back at the glass eyes of the animals
looking down upon you like a decapitated zoo
with the pity of the unaccusing
that anything that's ever lived
could be so full of self-hatred,
so full of disgust at the inadequacy of themselves
in the midst of so much spontaneous sufficiency,
from blue algae on over to blue whales,
could be so estranged from their inalienable nature,
could be so vindictively blind
they'd rather shoot the eyes out of the stars
and finger the braille of the bullet holes
they've put in the side of their coffins
like a mailbox with a return address on it
than open their own and read the writing on the wall.
Does Cain still blame God
that his sacrifice was unacceptable?
The farmer! The farmer! Not the hunter?
The meat of the hunter not sweet to Her nostrils?
So you murder your brother
and then you murder the animals
as if they somehow let you down.
And in the death shroud of the dark mother
she sends a crow not a dove,
not the wolf, nor the eagles of Rome
to teach you how to bury the dead,
to teach you how to sow the earth you've salted
with meat and bullets and how they only bloom
and come to fruition in you
like self-inflicted wounds square
in the third eye of your own infertility.
There used to be hunters wise enough to know
the animals they stalked were meant as a gift of a gift
not something they ripped off like a petty thief.
Now when they catch a whiff of you coming
it isn't a hunter they run from but
that sickly-sweet freakish smell of death
that clings to the skin of an undertaker
who moonlights as a serial killer
in the deathmask of a terminal disease.

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Indifference

It is pointless to oppose in debate,
With a hoping to change one's point of view.
Relationships are broken.
And the divorce rate is high.
A giving of respect to others is denied.
Hiding honesty is on the rise.
And people refuse to see the forest for the trees.
But yet...
Let arguments heat up knowing the fuel used,
Is indifference.

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To Tick With A Tocking All Of Our Clocks

Not too often,
But I do become quite amused...
By those who read my work,
And immediately have their perceptions of me.
Who I am and the life lived I pursue.

I am a writer and 'sometimes' I infuse,
My experiences lived.
But I am not an isolationist...
Observing life within limitations.

I have the ability to empathize,
With others unknown but do see.
I also listen to others as well...
With a focused attention.
Without that focus being centered on me.
I am not a self obsessor.

I am also a creature of curiosity.
An adventurer scouting out life,
And what life offers me.

And with a pad and pen with imagination too?
Well...
The environment is a canvas I observe.
To describe what is there existing.
Although there are times when people refuse,
To see themselves the way I do.

And believe it or not,
What is revealed to us all...
Has the capability to tick with a tocking,
All of our clocks.
With refusals to believe.
And denials to be heard to go on none stop.

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My Beloved Friend?

My beloved friend? Yes, well until I need you the most-
Now you are naught more than a ghost,
Haunting my subconscious mind, with all we used to be;
We are now estranged, because you refuse to see,
Or rather, recognize, that with friendship, comes empathy-
To ignore my plight, you ignore my reality-
I do not ask for your sorrow, nor do I want sympathy,
Just choose one side, not this duality!

I may not just pretend that 'this' is not real;
Of course, as your surreptitious friend,
How much loyalty toward me do you really feel
When I am allowed to fleet, like the wind
For more than a year, with not a single word from you! ?
If you cared as I thought, why have I not heard from you?
You are my very own irresistible enigma,
Yet, I am caught in a place rife with stigma,
With which you are apparently not equipped to deal;
In its stead, you allow circumstance to further steal
Away, our inspired amity, our all-too-real emotion;
Where is the loyalty, what happened to devotion?
Am I alone in wonder, have you no concern for me?
Are you not my friend, or is this something you must, again, learn, to be?
I had only just 'rediscovered' you, then you vanished-
A love I had missed my whole life, has been banished,
To collect dust, as part of your 'former friends pile';
Though, here I am, yearning all the while
For my dear, beloved friend, now gone from me!
It is as though I lost a member of my own family-
May heart aches each day, in the face of this tragedy!
The last thing I needed was for you to run from me,
After all I have been, and continue to go, through!
I needed the love you profess to have, to show through!
Come back, and I promise to never tell you how hurt I was,
When I realized my friend was gone again-
But this time, I insist upon full disclosure, because,
If you love someone, you do not secret them away like a sin;
You celebrate what they mean to you, and contrariwise;
This is my foremost wish, for our reprise-
That, and to allow that we love, without bound,
Whether or not I happen to be, around!

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II. Half-Rome

What, you, Sir, come too? (Just the man I'd meet.)
Be ruled by me and have a care o' the crowd:
This way, while fresh folk go and get their gaze:
I'll tell you like a book and save your shins.
Fie, what a roaring day we've had! Whose fault?
Lorenzo in Lucina,—here's a church
To hold a crowd at need, accommodate
All comers from the Corso! If this crush
Make not its priests ashamed of what they show
For temple-room, don't prick them to draw purse
And down with bricks and mortar, eke us out
The beggarly transept with its bit of apse
Into a decent space for Christian ease,
Why, to-day's lucky pearl is cast to swine.
Listen and estimate the luck they've had!
(The right man, and I hold him.)

Sir, do you see,
They laid both bodies in the church, this morn
The first thing, on the chancel two steps up,
Behind the little marble balustrade;
Disposed them, Pietro the old murdered fool
To the right of the altar, and his wretched wife
On the other side. In trying to count stabs,
People supposed Violante showed the most,
Till somebody explained us that mistake;
His wounds had been dealt out indifferent where,
But she took all her stabbings in the face,
Since punished thus solely for honour's sake,
Honoris causâ, that's the proper term.
A delicacy there is, our gallants hold,
When you avenge your honour and only then,
That you disfigure the subject, fray the face,
Not just take life and end, in clownish guise.
It was Violante gave the first offence,
Got therefore the conspicuous punishment:
While Pietro, who helped merely, his mere death
Answered the purpose, so his face went free.
We fancied even, free as you please, that face
Showed itself still intolerably wronged;
Was wrinkled over with resentment yet,
Nor calm at all, as murdered faces use,
Once the worst ended: an indignant air
O' the head there was—'t is said the body turned
Round and away, rolled from Violante's side
Where they had laid it loving-husband-like.
If so, if corpses can be sensitive,
Why did not he roll right down altar-step,
Roll on through nave, roll fairly out of church,
Deprive Lorenzo of the spectacle,
Pay back thus the succession of affronts
Whereto this church had served as theatre?
For see: at that same altar where he lies,
To that same inch of step, was brought the babe
For blessing after baptism, and there styled
Pompilia, and a string of names beside,
By his bad wife, some seventeen years ago,
Who purchased her simply to palm on him,
Flatter his dotage and defraud the heirs.
Wait awhile! Also to this very step
Did this Violante, twelve years afterward,
Bring, the mock-mother, that child-cheat full-grown,
Pompilia, in pursuance of her plot,
And there brave God and man a second time
By linking a new victim to the lie.
There, having made a match unknown to him,
She, still unknown to Pietro, tied the knot
Which nothing cuts except this kind of knife;
Yes, made her daughter, as the girl was held,
Marry a man, and honest man beside,
And man of birth to boot,—clandestinely
Because of this, because of that, because
O' the devil's will to work his worst for once,—
Confident she could top her part at need
And, when her husband must be told in turn,
Ply the wife's trade, play off the sex's trick
And, alternating worry with quiet qualms,
Bravado with submissiveness, prettily fool
Her Pietro into patience: so it proved.
Ay, 't is four years since man and wife they grew,
This Guido Franceschini and this same
Pompilia, foolishly thought, falsely declared
A Comparini and the couple's child:
Just at this altar where, beneath the piece
Of Master Guido Reni, Christ on cross,
Second to nought observable in Rome,
That couple lie now, murdered yestereve.
Even the blind can see a providence here.

From dawn till now that it is growing dusk,
A multitude has flocked and filled the church,
Coming and going, coming back again,
Till to count crazed one. Rome was at the show.
People climbed up the columns, fought for spikes
O' the chapel-rail to perch themselves upon,
Jumped over and so broke the wooden work
Painted like porphyry to deceive the eye;
Serve the priests right! The organ-loft was crammed,
Women were fainting, no few fights ensued,
In short, it was a show repaid your pains:
For, though their room was scant undoubtedly,
Yet they did manage matters, to be just,
A little at this Lorenzo. Body o' me!
I saw a body exposed once … never mind!
Enough that here the bodies had their due.
No stinginess in wax, a row all round,
And one big taper at each head and foot.

So, people pushed their way, and took their turn,
Saw, threw their eyes up, crossed themselves, gave place
To pressure from behind, since all the world
Knew the old pair, could talk the tragedy
Over from first to last: Pompilia too,
Those who had known her—what 't was worth to them!
Guido's acquaintance was in less request;
The Count had lounged somewhat too long in Rome,
Made himself cheap; with him were hand and glove
Barbers and blear-eyed, as the ancient sings.
Also he is alive and like to be:
Had he considerately died,—aha!
I jostled Luca Cini on his staff,
Mute in the midst, the whole man one amaze,
Staring amain and crossing brow and breast.
"How now?" asked I. "'T is seventy years," quoth he,
"Since I first saw, holding my father's hand,
"Bodies set forth: a many have I seen,
"Yet all was poor to this I live and see.
"Here the world's wickedness seals up the sum:
"What with Molinos' doctrine and this deed,
"Antichrist surely comes and doomsday's near.
"May I depart in peace, I have seen my see."
"Depart then," I advised, "nor block the road
"For youngsters still behindhand with such sights!"
"Why no," rejoins the venerable sire,
"I know it's horrid, hideous past belief,
"Burdensome far beyond what eye can bear;
"But they do promise, when Pompilia dies
"I' the course o' the day,—and she can't outlive night,—
"They'll bring her body also to expose
"Beside the parents, one, two, three a-breast;
"That were indeed a sight, which might I see,
"I trust I should not last to see the like!"
Whereat I bade the senior spare his shanks,
Since doctors give her till to-night to live,
And tell us how the butchery happened. "Ah,
"But you can't know!" sighs he, "I'll not despair:
"Beside I'm useful at explaining things—
"As, how the dagger laid there at the feet,
"Caused the peculiar cuts; I mind its make,
"Triangular i' the blade, a Genoese,
"Armed with those little hook-teeth on the edge
"To open in the flesh nor shut again:
"I like to teach a novice: I shall stay!"
And stay he did, and stay be sure he will.

A personage came by the private door
At noon to have his look: I name no names:
Well then, His Eminence the Cardinal,
Whose servitor in honourable sort
Guido was once, the same who made the match,
(Will you have the truth?) whereof we see effect.
No sooner whisper ran he was arrived
Than up pops Curate Carlo, a brisk lad,
Who never lets a good occasion slip,
And volunteers improving the event.
We looked he'd give the history's self some help,
Treat us to how the wife's confession went
(This morning she confessed her crime, we know)
And, may-be, throw in something of the Priest—
If he's not ordered back, punished anew,
The gallant, Caponsacchi, Lucifer
I' the garden where Pompilia, Eve-like, lured
Her Adam Guido to his fault and fall.
Think you we got a sprig of speech akin
To this from Carlo, with the Cardinal there?
Too wary he was, too widely awake, I trow.
He did the murder in a dozen words;
Then said that all such outrages crop forth
I' the course of nature when Molinos' tares
Are sown for wheat, flourish and choke the Church:
So slid on to the abominable sect
And the philosophic sin—we've heard all that,
And the Cardinal too, (who book-made on the same)
But, for the murder, left it where he found.
Oh but he's quick, the Curate, minds his game!
And, after all, we have the main o' the fact:
Case could not well be simpler,—mapped, as it were,
We follow the murder's maze from source to sea,
By the red line, past mistake: one sees indeed
Not only how all was and must have been,
But cannot other than be to the end of time.
Turn out here by the Ruspoli! Do you hold
Guido was so prodigiously to blame?
A certain cousin of yours has told you so?
Exactly! Here's a friend shall set you right,
Let him but have the handsel of your ear.

These wretched Comparini were once gay
And galliard, of the modest middle class:
Born in this quarter seventy years ago
And married young, they lived the accustomed life,
Citizens as they were of good repute:
And, childless, naturally took their ease
With only their two selves to care about
And use the wealth for: wealthy is the word,
Since Pietro was possessed of house and land—
And specially one house, when good days smiled,
In Via Vittoria, the aspectable street
Where he lived mainly; but another house
Of less pretension did he buy betimes,
The villa, meant for jaunts and jollity,
I' the Pauline district, to be private there—
Just what puts murder in an enemy's head.
Moreover,—here's the worm i' the core, the germ
O' the rottenness and ruin which arrived,—
He owned some usufruct, had moneys' use
Lifelong, but to determine with his life
In heirs' default: so, Pietro craved an heir,
(The story always old and always new)
Shut his fool's-eyes fast on the visible good
And wealth for certain, opened them owl-wide
On fortune's sole piece of forgetfulness,
The child that should have been and would not be.

Hence, seventeen years ago, conceive his glee
When first Violante, 'twixt a smile and blush,
With touch of agitation proper too,
Announced that, spite of her unpromising age,
The miracle would in time be manifest,
An heir's birth was to happen: and it did.
Somehow or other,—how, all in good time!
By a trick, a sleight of hand you are to hear,—
A child was born, Pompilia, for his joy,
Plaything at once and prop, a fairy-gift,
A saints' grace or, say, grant of the good God,—
A fiddle-pin's end! What imbeciles are we!
Look now: if some one could have prophesied,
"For love of you, for liking to your wife,
"I undertake to crush a snake I spy
"Settling itself i' the soft of both your breasts.
"Give me yon babe to strangle painlessly!
"She'll soar to the safe: you'll have your crying out,
"Then sleep, then wake, then sleep, then end your days
"In peace and plenty, mixed with mild regret,
"Thirty years hence when Christmas takes old folk"—
How had old Pietro sprung up, crossed himself,
And kicked the conjuror! Whereas you and I,
Being wise with after-wit, had clapped our hands;
Nay, added, in the old fool's interest,
"Strangle the black-eyed babe, so far so good,
"But on condition you relieve the man
"O' the wife and throttle him Violante too—
"She is the mischief!"

We had hit the mark.
She, whose trick brought the babe into the world,
She it was, when the babe was grown a girl,
Judged a new trick should reinforce the old,
Send vigour to the lie now somewhat spent
By twelve years' service; lest Eve's rule decline
Over this Adam of hers, whose cabbage-plot
Throve dubiously since turned fools' paradise,
Spite of a nightingale on every stump.
Pietro's estate was dwindling day by day,
While he, rapt far above such mundane care,
Crawled all-fours with his baby pick-a-back,
Sat at serene cats'-cradle with his child,
Or took the measured tallness, top to toe,
Of what was grown a great girl twelve years old:
Till sudden at the door a tap discreet,
A visitor's premonitory cough,
And poverty had reached him in her rounds.

This came when he was past the working-time,
Had learned to dandle and forgot to dig,
And who must but Violante cast about,
Contrive and task that head of hers again?
She who had caught one fish, could make that catch
A bigger still, in angler's policy:
So, with an angler's mercy for the bait,
Her minnow was set wriggling on its barb
And tossed to mid-stream; which means, this grown girl
With the great eyes and bounty of black hair
And first crisp youth that tempts a jaded taste,
Was whisked i' the way of a certain man, who snapped.

Count Guido Franceschini the Aretine
Was head of an old noble house enough,
Not over-rich, you can't have everything,
But such a man as riches rub against,
Readily stick to,—one with a right to them
Born in the blood: 't was in his very brow
Always to knit itself against the world,
Beforehand so, when that world stinted due
Service and suit: the world ducks and defers.
As such folks do, he had come up to Rome
To better his fortune, and, since many years,
Was friend and follower of a cardinal;
Waiting the rather thus on providence
That a shrewd younger poorer brother yet,
The Abate Paolo, a regular priest,
Had long since tried his powers and found he swam
With the deftest on the Galilean pool:
But then he was a web-foot, free o' the wave,
And no ambiguous dab-chick hatched to strut,
Humbled by any fond attempt to swim
When fiercer fowl usurped his dunghill top—
A whole priest, Paolo, no mere piece of one
Like Guido tacked thus to the Church's tail!
Guido moreover, as the head o' the house,
Claiming the main prize, not the lesser luck,
The centre lily, no mere chickweed fringe.

He waited and learned waiting, thirty years;
Got promise, missed performance—what would you have?
No petty post rewards a nobleman
For spending youth in splendid lackey-work,
And there's concurrence for each rarer prize;
When that falls, rougher hand and readier foot
Push aside Guido spite of his black looks.
The end was, Guido, when the warning showed,
The first white hair i' the glass, gave up the game,
Determined on returning to his town,
Making the best of bad incurable,
Patching the old palace up and lingering there
The customary life out with his kin,
Where honour helps to spice the scanty bread.

Just as he trimmed his lamp and girt his loins
To go his journey and be wise at home,
In the right mood of disappointed worth,
Who but Violante sudden spied her prey
(Where was I with that angler-simile?)
And threw her bait, Pompilia, where he sulked—
A gleam i' the gloom!

What if he gained thus much,
Wrung out this sweet drop from the bitter Past,
Bore off this rose-bud from the prickly brake
To justify such torn clothes and scratched hands,
And, after all, brought something back from Rome?
Would not a wife serve at Arezzo well
To light the dark house, lend a look of youth
To the mother's face grown meagre, left alone
And famished with the emptiness of hope,
Old Donna Beatrice? Wife you want
Would you play family-representative,
Carry you elder-brotherly, high and right
O'er what may prove the natural petulance
Of the third brother, younger, greedier still,
Girolamo, also a fledgeling priest,
Beginning life in turn with callow beak
Agape for luck, no luck had stopped and stilled.
Such were the pinks and greys about the bait
Persuaded Guido gulp down hook and all.
What constituted him so choice a catch,
You question? Past his prime and poor beside!
Ask that of any she who knows the trade.
Why first, here was a nobleman with friends,
A palace one might run to and be safe
When presently the threatened fate should fall,
A big-browed master to block door-way up,
Parley with people bent on pushing by
And praying the mild Pietro quick clear scores:
Is birth a privilege and power or no?
Also,—but judge of the result desired,
By the price paid and manner of the sale.
The Count was made woo, win and wed at once:
Asked, and was haled for answer, lest the heat
Should cool, to San Lorenzo, one blind eve,
And had Pompilia put into his arms
O' the sly there, by a hasty candle-blink,
With sanction of some priest-confederate
Properly paid to make short work and sure.

So did old Pietro's daughter change her style
For Guido Franceschini's lady-wife
Ere Guido knew it well; and why this haste
And scramble and indecent secrecy?
"Lest Pietro, all the while in ignorance,
"Should get to learn, gainsay and break the match:
"His peevishness had promptly put aside
"Such honour and refused the proffered boon,
"Pleased to become authoritative once.
"She remedied the wilful man's mistake—"
Did our discreet Violante. Rather say,
Thus did she, lest the object of her game,
Guido the gulled one, give him but a chance,
A moment's respite, time for thinking twice,
Might count the cost before he sold himself,
And try the clink of coin they paid him with.

But coin paid, bargain struck and business done,
Once the clandestine marriage over thus,
All parties made perforce the best o' the fact;
Pietro could play vast indignation off,
Be ignorant and astounded, dupe, poor soul,
Please you, of daughter, wife and son-in-law,
While Guido found himself in flagrant fault,
Must e'en do suit and service, soothe, subdue
A father not unreasonably chafed,
Bring him to terms by paying son's devoir.
Pleasant initiation!

The end, this:
Guido's broad back was saddled to bear all—
Pietro, Violante, and Pompilia too,—
Three lots cast confidently in one lap,
Three dead-weights with one arm to lift the three
Out of their limbo up to life again.
The Roman household was to strike fresh root
In a new soil, graced with a novel name,
Gilt with an alien glory, Aretine
Henceforth and never Roman any more,
By treaty and engagement; thus it ran:
Pompilia's dowry for Pompilia's self
As a thing of course,—she paid her own expense;
No loss nor gain there: but the couple, you see,
They, for their part, turned over first of all
Their fortune in its rags and rottenness
To Guido, fusion and confusion, he
And his with them and theirs,—whatever rag
With coin residuary fell on floor
When Brother Paolo's energetic shake
Should do the relics justice: since 't was thought,
Once vulnerable Pietro out of reach,
That, left at Rome as representative,
The Abate, backed by a potent patron here,
And otherwise with purple flushing him,
Might play a good game with the creditor,
Make up a moiety which, great or small,
Should go to the common stock—if anything,
Guido's, so far repayment of the cost
About to be,—and if, as looked more like,
Nothing,—why, all the nobler cost were his
Who guaranteed, for better or for worse,
To Pietro and Violante, house and home,
Kith and kin, with the pick of company
And life o' the fat o' the land while life should last.
How say you to the bargain at first blush?
Why did a middle-aged not-silly man
Show himself thus besotted all at once?
Quoth Solomon, one black eye does it all.

They went to Arezzo,—Pietro and his spouse,
With just the dusk o' the day of life to spend,
Eager to use the twilight, taste a treat,
Enjoy for once with neither stay nor stint
The luxury of lord-and-lady-ship,
And realize the stuff and nonsense long
A-simmer in their noddles; vent the fume
Born there and bred, the citizen's conceit
How fares nobility while crossing earth,
What rampart or invisible body-guard
Keeps off the taint of common life from such.
They had not fed for nothing on the tales
Of grandees who give banquets worthy Jove,
Spending gold as if Plutus paid a whim,
Served with obeisances as when … what God?
I'm at the end of my tether; 't is enough
You understand what they came primed to see:
While Guido who should minister the sight,
Stay all this qualmish greediness of soul
With apples and with flagons—for his part,
Was set on life diverse as pole from pole:
Lust of the flesh, lust of the eye,—what else
Was he just now awake from, sick and sage,
After the very debauch they would begin?—
Suppose such stuff and nonsense really were.
That bubble, they were bent on blowing big,
He had blown already till he burst his cheeks,
And hence found soapsuds bitter to the tongue.
He hoped now to walk softly all his days
In soberness of spirit, if haply so,
Pinching and paring he might furnish forth
A frugal board, bare sustenance, no more,
Till times, that could not well grow worse, should mend.

Thus minded then, two parties mean to meet
And make each other happy. The first week,
And fancy strikes fact and explodes in full.
"This," shrieked the Comparini, "this the Count,
"The palace, the signorial privilege,
"The pomp and pageantry were promised us?
"For this have we exchanged our liberty,
"Our competence, our darling of a child?
"To house as spectres in a sepulchre
"Under this black stone-heap, the street's disgrace,
"Grimmest as that is of the gruesome town,
"And here pick garbage on a pewter plate
"Or cough at verjuice dripped from earthenware?
"Oh Via Vittoria, oh the other place
"I' the Pauline, did we give you up for this?
"Where's the foregone housekeeping good and gay,
"The neighbourliness, the companionship,
"The treat and feast when holidays came round,
"The daily feast that seemed no treat at all,
"Called common by the uncommon fools we were!
"Even the sun that used to shine at Rome,
"Where is it? Robbed and starved and frozen too,
"We will have justice, justice if there be!"
Did not they shout, did not the town resound!
Guido's old lady-mother Beatrice,
Who since her husband, Count Tommaso's death,
Had held sole sway i' the house,—the doited crone
Slow to acknowledge, curtsey and abdicate,—
Was recognized of true novercal type,
Dragon and devil. His brother Girolamo
Came next in order: priest was he? The worse!
No way of winning him to leave his mumps
And help the laugh against old ancestry
And formal habits long since out of date,
Letting his youth be patterned on the mode
Approved of where Violante laid down law.
Or did he brighten up by way of change,
Dispose himself for affability?
The malapert, too complaisant by half
To the alarmed young novice of a bride!
Let him go buzz, betake himself elsewhere
Nor singe his fly-wings in the candle-flame!

Four months' probation of this purgatory,
Dog-snap and cat-claw, curse and counterblast,
The devil's self were sick of his own din;
And Pietro, after trumpeting huge wrongs
At church and market-place, pillar and post,
Square's corner, street's end, now the palace-step
And now the wine-house bench—while, on her side,
Violante up and down was voluble
In whatsoever pair of ears would perk
From goody, gossip, cater-cousin and sib,
Curious to peep at the inside of things
And catch in the act pretentious poverty
At its wits' end to keep appearance up,
Make both ends meet,—nothing the vulgar loves
Like what this couple pitched them right and left.
Then, their worst done that way, both struck tent, marched:
—Renounced their share o' the bargain, flung what dues
Guido was bound to pay, in Guido's face,
Left their hearts'-darling, treasure of the twain
And so forth, the poor inexperienced bride,
To her own devices, bade Arezzo rot,
Cursed life signorial, and sought Rome once more.

I see the comment ready on your lip,
"The better fortune, Guido's—free at least
"By this defection of the foolish pair,
"He could begin make profit in some sort
"Of the young bride and the new quietness,
"Lead his own life now, henceforth breathe unplagued."
Could he? You know the sex like Guido's self.
Learn the Violante-nature!

Once in Rome,
By way of helping Guido lead such life,
Her first act to inaugurate return
Was, she got pricked in conscience: Jubilee
Gave her the hint. Our Pope, as kind as just,
Attained his eighty years, announced a boon
Should make us bless the fact, held Jubilee—
Short shrift, prompt pardon for the light offence
And no rough dealing with the regular crime
So this occasion were not suffered slip—
Otherwise, sins commuted as before,
Without the least abatement in the price.
Now, who had thought it? All this while, it seems,
Our sage Violante had a sin of a sort
She must compound for now or not at all.
Now be the ready riddance! She confessed
Pompilia was a fable not a fact:
She never bore a child in her whole life.
Had this child been a changeling, that were grace
In some degree, exchange is hardly theft,
You take your stand on truth ere leap your lie:
Here was all lie, no touch of truth at all,
All the lie hers—not even Pietro guessed
He was as childless still as twelve years since.
The babe had been a find i' the filth-heap, Sir,
Catch from the kennel! There was found at Rome,
Down in the deepest of our social dregs,
A woman who professed the wanton's trade
Under the requisite thin coverture,
Communis meretrix and washer-wife:
The creature thus conditioned found by chance
Motherhood like a jewel in the muck,
And straightway either trafficked with her prize
Or listened to the tempter and let be,—
Made pact abolishing her place and part
In womankind, beast-fellowship indeed.
She sold this babe eight months before its birth
To our Violante, Pietro's honest spouse,
Well-famed and widely-instanced as that crown
To the husband, virtue in a woman's shape.
She it was, bought, paid for, passed off the thing
As very flesh and blood and child of her
Despite the flagrant fifty years,—and why?
Partly to please old Pietro, fill his cup
With wine at the late hour when lees are left,
And send him from life's feast rejoicingly,—
Partly to cheat the rightful heirs, agape,
Each uncle's cousin's brother's son of him,
For that same principal of the usufruct
It vext him he must die and leave behind.

Such was the sin had come to be confessed.
Which of the tales, the first or last, was true?
Did she so sin once, or, confessing now,
Sin for the first time? Either way you will.
One sees a reason for the cheat: one sees
A reason for a cheat in owning cheat
Where no cheat had been. What of the revenge?
What prompted the contrition all at once,
Made the avowal easy, the shame slight?
Why, prove they but Pompilia not their child,
No child, no dowry! this, supposed their child,
Had claimed what this, shown alien to their blood,
Claimed nowise: Guido's claim was through his wife,
Null then and void with hers. The biter bit,
Do you see! For such repayment of the past,
One might conceive the penitential pair
Ready to bring their case before the courts,
Publish their infamy to all the world
And, arm in arm, go chuckling thence content.

Is this your view? 'T was Guido's anyhow
And colourable: he came forward then,
Protested in his very bride's behalf
Against this lie and all it led to, least
Of all the loss o' the dowry; no! From her
And him alike he would expunge the blot,
Erase the brand of such a bestial birth,
Participate in no hideous heritage
Gathered from the gutter to be garnered up
And glorified in a palace. Peter and Paul!
But that who likes may look upon the pair
Exposed in yonder church, and show his skill
By saying which is eye and which is mouth
Thro' those stabs thick and threefold,—but for that—
A strong word on the liars and their lie
Might crave expression and obtain it, Sir!
—Though prematurely, since there's more to come,
More that will shake your confidence in things
Your cousin tells you,—may I be so bold?

This makes the first act of the farce,—anon
The sombre element comes stealing in
Till all is black or blood-red in the piece.
Guido, thus made a laughing-stock abroad,
A proverb for the market-place at home,
Left alone with Pompilia now, this graft
So reputable on his ancient stock,
This plague-seed set to fester his sound flesh,
What does the Count? Revenge him on his wife?
Unfasten at all risks to rid himself
The noisome lazar-badge, fall foul of fate,
And, careless whether the poor rag was ware
O' the part it played, or helped unwittingly,
Bid it go burn and leave his frayed flesh free?
Plainly, did Guido open both doors wide,
Spurn thence the cur-cast creature and clear scores
As man might, tempted in extreme like this?
No, birth and breeding, and compassion too
Saved her such scandal. She was young, he thought,
Not privy to the treason, punished most
I' the proclamation of it; why make her
A party to the crime she suffered by?
Then the black eyes were now her very own,
Not any more Violante's: let her live,
Lose in a new air, under a new sun,
The taint of the imputed parentage
Truly or falsely, take no more the touch
Of Pietro and his partner anyhow!
All might go well yet.

So she thought, herself,
It seems, since what was her first act and deed
When news came how these kindly ones at Rome
Had stripped her naked to amuse the world
With spots here, spots there and spots everywhere?
—For I should tell you that they noised abroad
Not merely the main scandal of her birth,
But slanders written, printed, published wide,
Pamphlets which set forth all the pleasantry
Of how the promised glory was a dream,
The power a bubble, and the wealth—why, dust.
There was a picture, painted to the life,
Of those rare doings, that superlative
Initiation in magnificence
Conferred on a poor Roman family
By favour of Arezzo and her first
And famousest, the Franceschini there.
You had the Countship holding head aloft
Bravely although bespattered, shifts and straits
In keeping out o' the way o' the wheels o' the world,
The comic of those home-contrivances
When the old lady-mother's with was taxed
To find six clamorous mouths in food more real
Than fruit plucked off the cobwebbed family-tree,
Or acorns shed from its gilt mouldered frame—
Cold glories served up with stale fame for sauce.
What, I ask,—when the drunkenness of hate
Hiccuped return for hospitality,
Befouled the table they had feasted on,
Or say,—God knows I'll not prejudge the case,—
Grievances thus distorted, magnified,
Coloured by quarrel into calumny,—
What side did our Pompilia first espouse?
Her first deliberate measure was—she wrote,
Pricked by some loyal impulse, straight to Rome
And her husband's brother the Abate there,
Who, having managed to effect the match,
Might take men's censure for its ill success.
She made a clean breast also in her turn,
And qualified the couple properly,
Since whose departure, hell, she said, was heaven,
And the house, late distracted by their peals,
Quiet as Carmel where the lilies live.
Herself had oftentimes complained: but why?
All her complaints had been their prompting, tales
Trumped up, devices to this very end.
Their game had been to thwart her husband's love
And cross his will, malign his words and ways,
To reach this issue, furnish this pretence
For impudent withdrawal from their bond,—
Theft, indeed murder, since they meant no less
Whose last injunction to her simple self
Had been—what parents'-precept do you think?
That she should follow after with all speed,
Fly from her husband's house clandestinely,
Join them at Rome again, but first of all
Pick up a fresh companion in her flight,
So putting youth and beauty to fit use,—
Some gay dare-devil cloak-and-rapier spark
Capable of adventure,—helped by whom
She, some fine eve when lutes were in the air,
Having put poison in the posset-cup,
Laid hands on money, jewels and the like,
And, to conceal the thing with more effect,
By way of parting benediction too,
Fired the house,—one would finish famously
I' the tumult, slip out, scurry off and away
And turn up merrily at home once more.
Fact this, and not a dream o' the devil, Sir!
And more than this, a fact none dare dispute,
Word for word, such a letter did she write,
And such the Abate read, nor simply read
But gave all Rome to ruminate upon,
In answer to such charges as, I say,
The couple sought to be beforehand with.

The cause thus carried to the courts at Rome,
Guido away, the Abate had no choice
But stand forth, take his absent brother's part,
Defend the honour of himself beside.
He made what head he might against the pair,
Maintained Pompilia's birth legitimate
And all her rights intact—hers, Guido's now:
And so far by his policy turned their flank,
(The enemy being beforehand in the place)
That,—though the courts allowed the cheat for fact,
Suffered Violante to parade her shame,
Publish her infamy to heart's content,
And let the tale o' the feigned birth pass for proved,—
Yet they stopped there, refused to intervene
And dispossess the innocents, befooled
By gifts o' the guilty, at guilt's new caprice.
They would not take away the dowry now
Wrongfully given at first, nor bar at all
Succession to the aforesaid usufruct,
Established on a fraud, nor play the game
Of Pietro's child and now not Pietro's child
As it might suit the gamester's purpose. Thus
Was justice ever ridiculed in Rome:
Such be the double verdicts favoured here
Which send away both parties to a suit
Nor puffed up nor cast down,—for each a crumb
Of right, for neither of them the whole loaf.
Whence, on the Comparini's part, appeal—
Counter-appeal on Guido's,—that's the game:
And so the matter stands, even to this hour,
Bandied as balls are in a tennis-court,
And so might stand, unless some heart broke first,
Till doomsday.

Leave it thus, and now revert
To the old Arezzo whence we moved to Rome.
We've had enough o' the parents, false or true,
Now for a touch o' the daughter's quality.
The start's fair henceforth, every obstacle
Out of the young wife's footpath, she's alone,
Left to walk warily now: how does she walk?
Why, once a dwelling's threshold marked and crossed
In rubric by the enemy on his rounds
As eligible, as fit place of prey,
Baffle him henceforth, keep him out who can!
Stop up the door at the first hint of hoof,
Presently at the window taps a horn,
And Satan's by your fireside, never fear!
Pompilia, left alone now, found herself;
Found herself young too, sprightly, fair enough,
Matched with a husband old beyond his age
(Though that was something like four times her own)
Because of cares past, present and to come:
Found too the house dull and its inmates dead,
So, looked outside for light and life.

And love
Did in a trice turn up with life and light,—
The man with the aureole, sympathy made flesh,
The all-consoling Caponsacchi, Sir!
A priest—what else should the consoler be?
With goodly shoulderblade and proper leg,
A portly make and a symmetric shape,
And curls that clustered to the tonsure quite.
This was a bishop in the bud, and now
A canon full-blown so far: priest, and priest
Nowise exorbitantly overworked,
The courtly Christian, not so much Saint Paul
As a saint of Cæsar's household: there posed he
Sending his god-glance after his shot shaft,
Apollos turned Apollo, while the snake
Pompilia writhed transfixed through all her spires.
He, not a visitor at Guido's house,
Scarce an acquaintance, but in prime request
With the magnates of Arezzo, was seen here,
Heard there, felt everywhere in Guido's path
If Guido's wife's path be her husband's too.
Now he threw comfits at the theatre
Into her lap,—what harm in Carnival?
Now he pressed close till his foot touched her gown,
His hand brushed hers,—how help on promenade?
And, ever on weighty business, found his steps
Incline to a certain haunt of doubtful fame
Which fronted Guido's palace by mere chance;
While—how do accidents sometimes combine!—
Pompilia chose to cloister up her charms
Just in a chamber that o'erlooked the street,
Sat there to pray, or peep thence at mankind.

This passage of arms and wits amused the town.
At last the husband lifted eyebrow,—bent
On day-book and the study how to wring
Half the due vintage from the worn-out vines
At the villa, tease a quarter the old rent
From the farmstead, tenants swore would tumble soon,—
Pricked up his ear a-singing day and night
With "ruin, ruin;"—and so surprised at last—
Why, what else but a titter? Up he jumps.
Back to mind come those scratchings at the grange,
Prints of the paw about the outhouse; rife
In his head at once again are word and wink,
Mum here and budget there, the smell o' the fox,
The must o' the gallant. "Friends, there's falseness here!"

The proper help of friends in such a strait
Is waggery, the world over. Laugh him free
O' the regular jealous-fit that's incident
To all old husbands that wed brisk young wives,
And he'll go duly docile all his days.
"Somebody courts your wife, Count? Where and when?
"How and why? Mere horn-madness: have a care!
"Your lady loves her own room, sticks to it,
"Locks herself in for hours, you say yourself.
"And—what, it's Caponsacchi means you harm?
"The Canon? We caress him, he's the world's,
"A man of such acceptance—never dream,
"Though he were fifty times the fox you fear,
"He'd risk his brush for your particular chick,
"When the wide town's his hen-roost! Fie o' the fool!"
So they dispensed their comfort of a kind.
Guido at last cried "Something is in the air,
"Under the earth, some plot against my peace.
"The trouble of eclipse hangs overheard;
"How it should come of that officious orb
"Your Canon in my system, you must say:
"I say—that from the pressure of this spring
"Began the chime and interchange of bells,
"Ever one whisper, and one whisper more,
"And just one whisper for the silvery last,
"Till all at once a-row the bronze-throats burst
"Into a larum both significant
"And sinister: stop it I must and will.
"Let Caponsacchi take his hand away
"From the wire!—disport himself in other paths
"Than lead precisely to my palace-gate,—
"Look where he likes except one window's way
"Where, cheek on hand, and elbow set on sill,
"Happens to lean and say her litanies
"Every day and all day long, just my wife—
"Or wife and Caponsacchi may fare the worse!"

Admire the man's simplicity, "I'll do this,
"I'll not have that, I'll punish and prevent!"—
'T is easy saying. But to a fray, you see,
Two parties go. The badger shows his teeth:
The fox nor lies down sheep-like nor dares fight.
Oh, the wife knew the appropriate warfare well,
The way to put suspicion to the blush!
At first hint of remonstrance, up and out
I' the face of the world, you found her: she could speak,
State her case,—Franceschini was a name,
Guido had his full share of foes and friends—
Why should not she call these to arbitrate?
She bade the Governor do governance,
Cried out on the Archbishop,—why, there now,
Take him for sample! Three successive times,
Had he to reconduct her by main-force
From where she took her station opposite
His shut door,—on the public steps thereto,
Wringing her hands, when he came out to see,
And shrieking all her wrongs forth at his foot,—
Back to the husband and the house she fled:
Judge if that husband warmed him in the face
Of friends or frowned on foes as heretofore!
Judge if he missed the natural grin of folk,
Or lacked the customary compliment
Of cap and bells, the luckless husband's fit!

So it went on and on till—who was right?
One merry April morning, Guido woke
After the cuckoo, so late, near noonday,
With an inordinate yawning of the jaws,
Ears plugged, eyes gummed together, palate, tongue
And teeth one mud-paste made of poppy-milk;
And found his wife flown, his scritoire the worse
For a rummage,—jewelry that was, was not,
Some money there had made itself wings too,—
The door lay wide and yet the servants slept
Sound as the dead, or dosed which does as well.
In short, Pompilia, she who, candid soul,
Had not so much as spoken all her life
To the Canon, nay, so much as peeped at him
Between her fingers while she prayed in church,—
This lamb-like innocent of fifteen years
(Such she was grown to by this time of day)
Had simply put an opiate in the drink
Of the whole household overnight, and then
Got up and gone about her work secure,
Laid hand on this waif and the other stray,
Spoiled the Philistine and marched out of doors
In company of the Canon who, Lord's love,
What with his daily duty at the church,
Nightly devoir where ladies congregate,
Had something else to mind, assure yourself,
Beside Pompilia, paragon though she be,
Or notice if her nose were sharp or blunt!
Well, anyhow, albeit impossible,
Both of them were together jollily
Jaunting it Rome-ward, half-way there by this,
While Guido was left go and get undrugged,
Gather his wits up, groaningly give thanks
When neighbours crowded round him to condole.
"Ah," quoth a gossip, "well I mind me now,
"The Count did always say he thought he felt
"He feared as if this very chance might fall!
"And when a man of fifty finds his corns
"Ache and his joints throb, and foresees a storm,
"Though neighbours laugh and say the sky is clear,
"Let us henceforth believe him weatherwise!"
Then was the story told, I'll cut you short:
All neighbours knew: no mystery in the world.
The lovers left at nightfall—over night
Had Caponsacchi come to carry off
Pompilia,—not alone, a friend of his,
One Guillichini, the more conversant
With Guido's housekeeping that he was just
A cousin of Guido's and might play a prank—
(Have not you too a cousin that's a wag?)
—Lord and a Canon also,—what would you have?
Such are the red-clothed milk-swollen poppy-heads
That stand and stiffen 'mid the wheat o' the Church!—
This worthy came to aid, abet his best.
And so the house was ransacked, booty bagged,
The lady led downstairs and out of doors
Guided and guarded till, the city passed,
A carriage lay convenient at the gate.
Good-bye to the friendly Canon; the loving one
Could peradventure do the rest himself.
In jumps Pompilia, after her the priest,
"Whip, driver! Money makes the mare to go,
"And we've a bagful. Take the Roman road!"
So said the neighbours. This was eight hours since.

Guido heard all, swore the befitting oaths,
Shook off the relics of his poison-drench,
Got horse, was fairly started in pursuit
With never a friend to follow, found the track
Fast enough, 't was the straight Perugia way,
Trod soon upon their very heels, too late
By a minute only at Camoscia, reached
Chiusi, Foligno, ever the fugitives
Just ahead, just out as he galloped in,
Getting the good news ever fresh and fresh,
Till, lo, at the last stage of all, last post
Before Rome,—as we say, in sight of Rome
And safety (there's impunity at Rome
For priests, you know) at—what's the little place?—
What some call Castelnuovo, some just call
The Osteria, because o' the post-house inn,
There, at the journey's all but end, it seems,
Triumph deceived them and undid them both,
Secure they might foretaste felicity
Nor fear surprisal: so, they were surprised.
There did they halt at early evening, there
Did Guido overtake them: 't was day-break;
He came in time enough, not time too much,
Since in the courtyard stood the Canon's self
Urging the drowsy stable-grooms to haste
Harness the horses, have the journey end,
The trifling four-hours'-running, so reach Rome.
And the other runaway, the wife? Upstairs,
Still on the couch where she had spent the night,
One couch in one room, and one room for both.
So gained they six hours, so were lost thereby.

Sir, what's the sequel? Lover and beloved
Fall on their knees? No impudence serves here?
They beat their breasts and beg for easy death,
Confess this, that and the other?—anyhow
Confess there wanted not some likelihood
To the supposition so preposterous,
That, O Pompilia, thy sequestered eyes
Had noticed, straying o'er the prayerbook's edge,
More of the Canon than that black his coat,
Buckled his shoes were, broad his hat of brim:
And that, O Canon, thy religious care
Had breathed too soft a benedicite
To banish trouble from a lady's breast
So lonely and so lovely, nor so lean!
This you expect? Indeed, then, much you err.
Not to such ordinary end as this
Had Caponsacchi flung the cassock far,
Doffed the priest, donned the perfect cavalier.
The die was cast: over shoes over boots:
And just as she, I presently shall show,
Pompilia, soon looked Helen to the life,
Recumbent upstairs in her pink and white,
So, in the inn-yard, bold as 't were Troy-town,
There strutted Paris in correct costume,
Cloak, cap and feather, no appointment missed,
Even to a wicked-looking sword at side,
He seemed to find and feel familiar at.
Nor wanted words as ready and as big
As the part he played, the bold abashless one.
"I interposed to save your wife from death,
"Yourself from shame, the true and only shame:
"Ask your own conscience else!—or, failing that,
"What I have done I answer, anywhere,
"Here, if you will; you see I have a sword:
"Or, since I have a tonsure as you taunt,
"At Rome, by all means,—priests to try a priest.
"Only, speak where your wife's voice can reply!"
And then he fingered at the sword again.
So, Guido called, in aid and witness both,
The Public Force. The Commissary came,
Officers also; they secured the priest;
Then, for his more confusion, mounted up
With him, a guard on either side, the stair
To the bed-room where still slept or feigned a sleep
His paramour and Guido's wife: in burst
The company and bade her wake and rise.

Her defence? This. She woke, saw, sprang upright
I' the midst and stood as terrible as truth,
Sprang to her husband's side, caught at the sword
That hung there useless,—since they held each hand
O' the lover, had disarmed him properly,—
And in a moment out flew the bright thing
Full in the face of Guido: but for help
O' the guards who held her back and pinioned her
With pains enough, she had finished you my tale
With a flourish of red all round it, pinked her man
Prettily; but she fought them one to six.
They stopped that,—but her tongue continued free:
She spat forth such invective at her spouse,
O'erfrothed him with such foam of murderer,
Thief, pandar—that the popular tide soon turned,
The favour of the very sbirri, straight
Ebbed from the husband, set toward his wife,
People cried "Hands off, pay a priest respect!"
And "persecuting fiend" and "martyred saint"
Began to lead a measure from lip to lip.

But facts are facts and flinch not; stubborn things,
And the question "Prithee, friend, how comes my purse
"I' the poke of you?"—admits of no reply.
Here was a priest found out in masquerade,
A wife caught playing truant if no more;
While the Count, mortified in mien enough,
And, nose to face, an added palm in length,
Was plain writ "husband" every piece of him:
Capture once made, release could hardly be.
Beside, the prisoners both made appeal,
"Take us to Rome!"

Taken to Rome they were;
The husband trooping after, piteously,
Tail between legs, no talk of triumph now—
No honour set firm on its feet once more
On two dead bodies of the guilty,—nay,
No dubious salve to honour's broken pate
From chance that, after all, the hurt might seem
A skin-deep matter, scratch that leaves no scar:
For Guido's first search,—ferreting, poor soul,
Here, there and everywhere in the vile place
Abandoned to him when their backs were turned,
Found,—furnishing a last and best regale,—
All the love-letters bandied 'twixt the pair
Since the first timid trembling into life
O' the love-star till its stand at fiery full.
Mad prose, mad verse, fears, hopes, triumph, despair,
Avowal, disclaimer, plans, dates, names,—was nought
Wanting to prove, if proof consoles at all,
That this had been but the fifth act o' the piece
Whereof the due proemium, months ago
These playwrights had put forth, and ever since
Matured the middle, added 'neath his nose.
He might go cross himself: the case was clear.

Therefore to Rome with the clear case; there plead
Each party its best, and leave law do each right,
Let law shine forth and show, as God in heaven,
Vice prostrate, virtue pedestalled at last,
The triumph of truth! What else shall glad our gaze
When once authority has knit the brow
And set the brain behind it to decide
Between the wolf and sheep turned litigants?
"This is indeed a business!" law shook head:
"A husband charges hard things on a wife,
"The wife as hard o' the husband: whose fault here?
"A wife that flies her husband's house, does wrong:
"The male friend's interference looks amiss,
"Lends a suspicion: but suppose the wife,
"On the other hand, be jeopardized at home—
"Nay, that she simply hold, ill-groundedly,
"An apprehension she is jeopardized,—
"And further, if the friend partake the fear,
"And, in a commendable charity
"Which trusteth all, trust her that she mistrusts,—
"What do they but obey law—natural law?
"Pretence may this be and a cloak for sin,
"And circumstances that concur i' the close
"Hint as much, loudly—yet scarce loud enough
"To drown the answer 'strange may yet be true:'
"Innocence often looks like guiltiness.
"The accused declare that in thought, word and deed,
"Innocent were they both from first to last
"As male-babe haply laid by female-babe
"At church on edge of the baptismal font
"Together for a minute, perfect-pure.
"Difficult to believe, yet possible,
"As witness Joseph, the friend's patron-saint.
"The night at the inn—there charity nigh chokes
"Ere swallow what they both asseverate;
"Though down the gullet faith may feel it go,
"When mindful of what flight fatigued the flesh
"Out of its faculty and fleshliness,
"Subdued it to the soul, as saints assure:
"So long a flight necessitates a fall
"On the first bed, though in a lion's den,
"And the first pillow, though the lion's back:
"Difficult to believe, yet possible.
"Last come the letters' bundled beastliness—
"Authority repugns give glance to—nay,
"Turns head, and almost lets her whip-lash fall;
"Yet here a voice cries 'Respite!' from the clouds—
"the accused, both in a tale, protest, disclaim,
"Abominate the horror: 'Not my hand'
"Asserts the friend—'Nor mine' chimes in the wife,
"'Seeing I have no hand, nor write at all.'
"Illiterate—for she goes on to ask,
"What if the friend did pen now verse now prose,
"Commend it to her notice now and then?
"'T was pearls to swine: she read no more than wrote,
"And kept no more than read, for as they fell
"She ever brushed the burr-like things away,
"Or, better, burned them, quenched the fire in smoke.
"As for this fardel, filth and foolishness,
"She sees it now the first time: burn it too!
"While for his part the friend vows ignorance
"Alike of what bears his name and bears here:
"'T is forgery, a felon's masterpiece,
"And, as 't is said the fox still finds the stench,
"Home-manufacture and the husband's work.
"Though he confesses, the ingenuous friend,
"That certain missives, letters of a sort,
"Flighty and feeble, which assigned themselves
"To the wife, no less have fallen, far too oft,
"In his path: wherefrom he understood just this—
"That were they verily the lady's own.
"Why, she who penned them, since he never saw
"Save for one minute the mere face of her,
"Since never had there been the interchange
"Of word with word between them all their life,
"Why, she must be the fondest of the frail,
"And fit, she for the 'apage' he flung,
"Her letters for the flame they went to feed!
"But, now he sees her face and hears her speech,
"Much he repents him if, in fancy-freak
"For a moment the minutest measurable,
"He coupled her with the first flimsy word
"O' the self-spun fabric some mean spider-soul
"Furnished forth: stop his films and stamp on him!
"Never was such a tangled knottiness,
"But thus authority cuts the Gordian through,
"And mark how her decision suits the need!
"Here's troublesomeness, scandal on both sides,
"Plenty of fault to find, no absolute crime:
"Let each side own its fault and make amends!
"What does a priest in cavalier's attire
"Consorting publicly with vagrant wives
"In quarters close as the confessional,
"Though innocent of harm? 'T is harm enough:
"Let him pay it,—say, be relegate a good
"Three years, to spend in some place not too far
"Nor yet too near, midway 'twixt near and far,
"Rome and Arezzo,—Civita we choose,
"Where he may lounge away time, live at large,
"Find out the proper function of a priest,
"Nowise an exile,—that were punishment,—
"But one our love thus keeps out of harm's way
"Not more from the husband's anger than, mayhap
"His own … say, indiscretion, waywardness,
"And wanderings when Easter eves grow warm.
"For the wife,—well, our best step to take with her,
"On her own showing, were to shift her root
"From the old cold shade and unhappy soil
"Into a generous ground that fronts the south
"Where, since her callow soul, a-shiver late,
"Craved simply warmth and called mere passers-by
"To the rescue, she should have her fill of shine.
"Do house and husband hinder and not help?
"Why then, forget both and stay here at peace,
"Come into our community, enroll
"Herself along with those good Convertites,
"Those sinners saved, those Magdalens re-made,
"Accept their ministration, well bestow
"Her body and patiently possess her soul,
"Until we see what better can be done.
"Last for the husband: if his tale prove true,
"Well is he rid of two domestic plagues—
"Both wife that ailed, do whatsoever he would,
"And friend of hers that undertook the cure.
"See, what a double load we lift from breast!
"Off he may go, return, resume old life,
"Laugh at the priest here and Pompilia there
"In limbo each and punished for their pains,
"And grateful tell the inquiring neighbourhood—
"In Rome, no wrong but has its remedy."
The case was closed. Now, am I fair or no
In what I utter? Do I state the facts,
Having forechosen a side? I promised you!

The Canon Caponsacchi, then, was sent
To change his garb, re-trim his tonsure, tie
The clerkly silk round, every plait correct,
Make the impressive entry on his place
Of relegation, thrill his Civita,
As Ovid, a like sufferer in the cause,
Planted a primrose-patch by Pontus: where,—
What with much culture of the sonnet-stave
And converse with the aborigines,
Soft savagery of eyes unused to roll
And hearts that all awry went pit-a-pat
And wanted setting right in charity,—
What were a couple of years to while away?
Pompilia, as enjoined, betook herself
To the aforesaid Convertites, soft sisterhood
In Via Lungara, where the light ones live,
Spin, pray, then sing like linnets o'er the flax.
"Anywhere, anyhow, out of my husband's house
"Is heaven," cried she,—was therefore suited so.
But for Count Guido Franceschini, he-
The injured man thus righted—found no heaven
I' the house when he returned there, I engage,
Was welcomed by the city turned upside down
In a chorus of inquiry. "What, back—you?
"And no wife? Left her with the Penitents?
"Ah, being young and pretty, 't were a shame
"To have her whipped in public: leave the job
"To the priests who understand! Such priests as yours—
"(Pontifex Maximus whipped Vestals once)
"Our madcap Caponsacchi: think of him!
"So, he fired up, showed fight and skill of fence?
"Ay, you drew also, but you did not fight!
"The wiser, 't is a word and a blow with him,
"True Caponsacchi, of old Head-i'-the-Sack
"That fought at Fiesole ere Florence was:
"He had done enough, to firk you were too much.
"And did the little lady menace you,
"Make at your breast with your own harmless sword?
"The spitfire! Well, thank God you're safe and sound,
"Have kept the sixth commandment whether or no
"The lady broke the seventh: I only wish
"I were as saint-like, could contain me so.
"I, the poor sinner, fear I should have left
"Sir Priest no nose-tip to turn up at me!"
You, Sir, who listen but interpose no word,
Ask yourself, had you borne a baiting thus?
Was it enough to make a wise man mad?
Oh, but I'll have your verdict at the end!

Well, not enough, it seems: such mere hurt falls,
Frets awhile, aches long, then grows less and less,
And so gets done with. Such was not the scheme
O' the pleasant Comparini: on Guido's wound
Ever in due succession, drop by drop,
Came slow distilment from the alembic here
Set on to simmer by Canidian hate,
Corrosives keeping the man's misery raw.
First fire-drop,—when he thought to make the best
O' the bad, to wring from out the sentence passed,
Poor, pitiful, absurd although it were,
Yet what might eke him out result enough
And make it worth while to have had the right
And not the wrong i' the matter judged at Rome.
Inadequate her punishment, no less
Punished in some slight sort his wife had been;
Then, punished for adultery, what else?
On such admitted crime he thought to seize,
And institute procedure in the courts
Which cut corruption of this kind from man,
Cast loose a wife proved loose and castaway:
He claimed in due form a divorce at least.

This claim was met now by a counterclaim:
Pompilia sought divorce from bed and board
Of Guido, whose outrageous cruelty,
Whose mother's malice and whose brother's hate
Were just the white o' the charge, such dreadful depths
Blackened its centre,—hints of worse than hate,
Love from that brother, by that Guido's guile,
That mother's prompting. Such reply was made,
So was the engine loaded, wound up, sprung
On Guido, who received bolt full in breast;
But no less bore up, giddily perhaps.
He had the Abate Paolo still in Rome,
Brother and friend and fighter on his side:
They rallied in a measure, met the foe
Manlike, joined battle in the public courts,
As if to shame supine law from her sloth:
And waiting her award, let beat the while
Arezzo's banter, Rome's buffoonery,
On this ear and on that ear, deaf alike,
Safe from worse outrage. Let a scorpion nip,
And never mind till he contorts his tail!
But there was sting i' the creature; thus it struck.
Guido had thought in his simplicity—
That lying declaration of remorse,
That story of the child which was no child
And motherhood no motherhood at all,
—That even this sin might have its sort of good
Inasmuch as no question more could be,—
Call it false, call the story true,—no claim
Of further parentage pretended now:
The parents had abjured all right, at least,
I' the woman owned his wife: to plead right still
Were to declare the abjuration false:
He was relieved from any fear henceforth
Their hands might touch, their breath defile again
Pompilia with his name upon her yet.
Well, no: the next news was, Pompilia's health
Demanded change after full three long weeks
Spent in devotion with the Sisterhood,—
Which rendered sojourn,—so the court opined,—
Too irksome, since the convent's walls were high
And windows narrow, now was air enough
Nor light enough, but all looked prison-like,
The last thing which had come in the court's head.
Propose a new expedient therefore,—this!
She had demanded—had obtained indeed,
By intervention of her pitying friends
Or perhaps lovers—(beauty in distress,
Beauty whose tale is the town-talk beside,
Never lacks friendship's arm about her neck)—
Obtained remission of the penalty,
Permitted transfer to some private place
Where better air, more light, new food might soothe—
Incarcerated (call it, all the same)
At some sure friend's house she must keep inside,
Be found in at requirement fast enough,—
Domus pro carcere, in Roman style.
You keep the house i' the main, as most men do
And all good women: but free otherwise,
Should friends arrive, to lodge them and what not?
And such a domum, such a dwelling-place,
Having all Rome to choose from, where chose she?
What house obtained Pompilia's preference?
Why, just the Comparini's—just, do you mark,
Theirs who renounced all part and lot in her
So long as Guido could be robbed thereby,
And only fell back on relationship
And found their daughter safe and sound again
When that might surelier stab him: yes, the pair
Who, as I told you, first had baited hook
With this poor gilded fly Pompilia-thing,
Then caught the fish, pulled Guido to the shore
And gutted him,—not found a further use
For the bait, would trail the gauze wings yet again
I' the way of what new swimmer passed their stand.
They took Pompilia to their hiding-place—
Not in the heart of Rome as formerly,
Under observance, subject to control—
But out o' the way,—or in the way, who knows?
That blind mute villa lurking by the gate
At Via Paulina, not so hard to miss
By the honest eye, easy enough to find
In twilight by marauders: where perchance
Some muffled Caponsacchi might repair,
Employ odd moments when he too tried change,
Found that a friend's abode was pleasanter
Than relegation, penance and the rest.

Come, here's the last drop does its worst to wound
Here's Guido poisoned to the bone, you say
Your boasted still's full strain and strength: not so!
One master-squeeze from screw shall bring to birth
The hoard i' the heart o' the toad, hell's quintessence.
He learned the true convenience of the change,
And why a convent lacks the cheerful hearts
And helpful hands which female straits require,
When, in the blind mute villa by the gate,
Pompilia—what? sang, danced, saw company?
—Gave birth, Sir, to a child, his son and heir,
Or Guido's heir and Caponsacchi's son.
I want your word now: what do you say to this?
What would say little Arezzo and great Rome,
And what did God say and the devil say
One at each ear o' the man, the husband, now
The father? Why, the overburdened mind
Broke down, what was a brain became a blaze.
In fury of the moment—(that first news
Fell on the Count among his vines, it seems,
Doing his farm-work,)—why, he summoned steward,
Called in the first four hard hands and stout hearts
From field and furrow, poured forth his appeal,
Not to Rome's law and gospel any more,
But this clown with a mother or a wife,
That clodpole with a sister or a son:
And, whereas law and gospel held their peace,
What wonder if the sticks and stones cried out?

All five soon somehow found themselves at Rome,
At the villa door: there was the warmth and light—
The sense of life so just an inch inside—
Some angel must have whispered "One more chance!"


Knocked at the door,—"Who is it knocks?" cried one.
"I will make," surely Guido's angel urged,
"One final essay, last experiment,
"Speak the word, name the name from out all names
"Which, if,—as doubtless strong illusions are,
"And strange disguisings whereby truth seems false,
"And, since I am but man, I dare not do
"God's work until assured I see with God,—
"If I should bring my lips to breathe that name
"And they be innocent,—nay, by one mere touch
"Of innocence redeemed from utter guilt,-
"That name will bar the door and bid fate pass.
"I will not say 'It is a messenger,
"'A neighbour, even a belated man,
"'Much less your husband's friend, your husband's self:'
"At such appeal the door is bound to ope.
"But I will say"—here's rhetoric and to spare!
Why, Sir, the stumbling-block is cursed and kicked,
Block though it be; the name that brought offence
Will bring offence: the burnt child dreads the fire
Although that fire feed on some taper-wick
Which never left the altar nor singed a fly:
And had a harmless man tripped you by chance,
How would you wait him, stand or step aside,
When next you heard he rolled your way? Enough.


"Giuseppe Caponsacchi!" Guido cried;
And open flew the door: enough again.
Vengeance, you know, burst, like a mountain-wave
That holds a monster in it, over the house,
And wiped its filthy four walls free at last
With a wash of hell-fire,—father, mother, wife,
Killed them all, bathed his name clean in their blood,
And, reeking so, was caught, his friends and he,
Haled hither and imprisoned yesternight
O' the day all this was.

Now, Sir, tale is told,
Of how the old couple come to lie in state
Though hacked to pieces,—never, the expert say,
So thorough a study of stabbing—while the wife
(Viper-like, very difficult to slay)
Writhes still through every ring of her, poor wretch,
At the Hospital hard by—survives, we'll hope,
To somewhat purify her putrid soul
By full confession, make so much amends
While time lasts; since at day's end die she must.

For Caponsacchi,—why, they'll have him here,
As hero of the adventure, who so fit
To figure in the coming Carnival?
'T will make the fortune of whate'er saloon
Hears him recount, with helpful cheek, and eye
Hotly indignant now, now dewy-dimmed,
The incidents of flight, pursuit, surprise,
Capture, with hints of kisses all between—
While Guido, wholly unromantic spouse,
No longer fit to laugh at since the blood
Gave the broad farce an all too brutal air,
Why, he and those four luckless friends of his
May tumble in the straw this bitter day—
Laid by the heels i' the New Prison, I hear,
To bide their trial, since trial, and for the life,
Follows if but for form's sake: yes, indeed!

But with a certain issue: no dispute,
"Try him," bids law: formalities oblige:
But as to the issue,—look me in the face!—
If the law thinks to find them guilty, Sir,
Master or men—touch one hair of the five,
Then I say in the name of all that's left
Of honour in Rome, civility i' the world
Whereof Rome boasts herself the central source,—
There's an end to all hope of justice more.
Astræa's gone indeed, let hope go too!
Who is it dares impugn the natural law,
Deny God's word "the faithless wife shall die"?
What, are we blind? How can we fail to learn
This crowd of miseries make the man a mark,
Accumulate on one devoted head
For our example?—yours and mine who read
Its lesson thus—"Henceforward let none dare
"Stand, like a natural in the public way,
"Letting the very urchins twitch his beard
"And tweak his nose, to earn a nickname so,
"Be styled male-Grissel or else modern Job!"
Had Guido, in the twinkling of an eye,
Summed up the reckoning, promptly paid himself,
That morning when he came up with the pair
At the wayside inn,—exacted his just debt
By aid of what first mattock, pitchfork, axe
Came to hand in the helpful stable-yard,
And with that axe, if providence so pleased,
Cloven each head, by some Rolando-stroke,
In one clean cut from crown to clavicle,
—Slain the priest-gallant, the wife-paramour,
Sticking, for all defence, in each skull's cleft
The rhyme and reason of the stroke thus dealt,
To-wit, those letters and last evidence
Of shame, each package in its proper place,—
Bidding, who pitied, undistend the skulls,—
I say, the world had praised the man. But no!
That were too plain, too straight; too simply just!
He hesitates, calls law forsooth to help.
And law, distasteful to who calls in law
When honour is beforehand and would serve,
What wonder if law hesitate in turn,
Plead her disuse to calls o' the kind, reply
(Smiling a little) "'T is yourself assess
"The worth of what's lost, sum of damage done.
"What you touched with so light a finger-tip,
"You whose concern it was to grasp the thing,
"Why must law gird herself and grapple with?
"Law, alien to the actor whose warm blood
"Asks heat from law whose veins run lukewarm milk,—
"What you dealt lightly with, shall law make out
"Heinous forsooth?"

Sir, what's the good of law
In a case o'the kind? None, as she all but says.
Call in law when a neighbour breaks your fence,
Cribs from your field, tampers with rent or lease,
Touches the purse or pocket,—but wooes your wife?
No: take the old way trod when men were men!
Guido preferred the new path,—for his pains,
Stuck in a quagmire, floundered worse and worse
Until he managed somehow scramble back
Into the safe sure rutted road once more,
Revenged his own wrong like a gentleman.
Once back 'mid the familiar prints, no doubt
He made too rash amends for his first fault,
Vaulted too loftily over what barred him late,
And lit i' the mire again,—the common chance,
The natural over-energy: the deed
Maladroit yields three deaths instead of one,
And one life left: for where's the Canon's corpse?
All which is the worse for Guido, but, be frank—
The better for you and me and all the world,
Husbands of wives, especially in Rome.
The thing is put right, in the old place,—ay,
The rod hangs on its nail behind the door,
Fresh from the brine: a matter I commend
To the notice, during Carnival that's near,
Of a certain what's-his-name and jackanapes
Somewhat too civil of eves with lute and song
About a house here, where I keep a wife.
(You, being his cousin, may go tell him so.)

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Simply Why!

The world is full of mystery
Why?
Because it 's a symphony
Why?
Because it was made so
Why?
Because of all we know
Why?
Of all the things we do
Why?
Because I needed you
Why?
Oh simply understand
Why?
There is a master plan
Why
The creator always knows
Why?
Because he made is so
Why?
Just sit and hold my hand
Why?
I knew you'd understand
Simply why are things so true
Why
Because life's loving you!

Talile Ali 11/30/12

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A Philosophy In Life

when you read that poem about deleting Maureen
i regret to have given you the wrong spelling for delet...

i know it lacks an e.
but i do not wish to delet it anymore or even edit it.

i have this philosophy in life you know
do not go back
leave all your tracks as they were once made

do not edit life
let them see how mistakes were made and how they need not be corrected

simply because you know that
people are patient and they understand the common ground of our humanity

errors, not eros.

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It

TO Kiss it, and hug it, and touch it,
To stare at it, to slide my hands beneath it,
To make my lips touch it, and to rub my body against it,
To bring it to life with me, to undress it and caress it,
To kiss its all body with my tongue
To be above it at its center
Of its being,
To sleep with it and wake with it
After a night of love,

To be crazy with it,
To dance with it, and be with it, and leave all that I have
Because, all because of it,
To destroy family ties, and make enemies of all people
Because of it,
Because it is wholeheartedly delicious
Because I can be free
Because my whole being likes to be with it,
Because I am in love with it,
Because I can be whole
Because I can be complete
Simply because

I am not me today
I am
I am still going to be.

IT.
Just it, it cannot love me in return,
It just laughs
And cannot understand,
It is just it,
And it calls me simply
Not even with my name,
That I can die for it,
It
Simply calls me
IT.

It’s crazy, I know
But tell me what I can really do about
IT.

IT IS NOTHING.

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You Just Don't Understand

how well do you know the girl behind the mask?
everything you see,
is not what you get,
all the secerts she hides,
are waiting deep inside,
because people
just don't seem to care,
about all of the hardship,
that she seem to have to carry,
can you relate?
to a life that gotten harder,
would you be open enough to learn the secerts?
that are under the mask,
because what you see,
is not what you get,
what you see
may be a happy girl,
but, deep down her dreams are crushed,
can you underderstand?
that all she wants is to be normal,
or at least be treated that way,
but, at time she feel people look down at her,
for what they know about her,
because they just don't understand,
how hard it is, to make life appear fine,
when it really not,
tiried of the tears she crys,
in her bed last at night,
wondering if there was purpose to a life,
that she cannot seem to fine,
because people only seem to care,
if your life is planned their way,
who life is it?
because people pulling her apart,
and don't seem to see what's really in her heart,
don't they know?
if theystop being such a b! t**
maybe we can sit and talk,
but, you being the way you are,
she going to just walk,
she knows she's better than you say,
she don't give a damn anymore,
because you know what she have to say,
back the hell up.
let her work her magic,
because of you,
she's everything you not,
think you know the girl behind the mask?
because all she can tell you is...
you just don't understand.

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Freedoms Voice

They had gathered in the square
And a feeling of unrest was in the air
A message of freedom resounded out loud
you could hear the talk amongst the crowd.

Their voices started off very softly
And rose to a high pitched frequency
And in their faces the anger you did see.

The world is changing and so must we
We must fight poverty and bigotry.
Families are starving all around this world
Just look at the faces of the boys and girls.

There are children who are skin and bones
And are left without a home.
Mothers have no more milk in their breast
And not a morsel of food for them to eat
As they lay dying at their feet.

When they do have food to cook
They need clean water and a plate
And a spoon, fork, and a knife
So their fingers they would not bite.

A netting for where they sleep
To them is a treat.
Insects flying all around
And the children s crying is the only sound.

People being condoned because of their
Religious beliefs, color, and sexual gender
And it's not getting any better.

I live in a world of political corruption and hate
But I always try to keep my faith and
Hopefully one day they will open up their eyes
And take away that disguise.

This is the reason you hear FREEDOMS VOICE
Through out the lands - because people just can't
Understand why our politicians turn their backs
And refuse to pick up the slack.

They say that these are third world nations
Who have all these devastations
But don't they have rights just like we
So lets try to help them stamp out poverty and bigotry.

I know it's nearly impossible to do what we say
But one by one we can find the way.

ONE BY ONE!

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Two People

two people
when they get married
at first, they cope up
to be just exactly what the
other is
what he is becomes what
she is
even what she was
he also wants to be what she was
the bed is busy for the first
60 days
they become exclusive
the towels and under-wears
and even the kitchen utensils
but soon
they must be ready for
little changes
what is natural comes back again
asking for the costs
of compromises
he will begin to be what he is
and she will now insists what she is
they may still be together
in bed
with their bodies but their thoughts
begin to insist that they are different
that they can never be the same
inside their dreams
soon the problems come up
like alien invaders
in their so called honeymoon
which they say is over
one makes an issue of an underwear
that is left on the floor
it was not an issue before
soon there will be debates
without end
some have children whom they
believe are epoxies of their union
they are not
some will have no children
and their ways so easily part
like the way she parts her hair
as a new mode of her fashion
then the parting begins
with a new poem
how hard will that be
she will say
he will too say
how this can become a necessity
of their union
aching for separation
like a tooth that must be extracted from the gum
because it gets too painful everyday
some had it
some will have it
at the expenses set by the lawyer not the dentist of course
and the silent battle begins
people talk you know
who is the culprit
who are the irresponsible
childish bitch
or monster
and then it is granted
i mean the annulment
and then the celebration for freedom begins
and then there will be another
prison and another one and another one
beginnings and endings only to begin again
simply because it gets too lonely at night
and one has become the risk taker
of his life
stealing happiness
and other peoples' hearts
like the chicken of a neighbor
whose house
is not fenced.

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Invisible

Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually even here:
If the space where I am supposed to be is, indeed, just clear.
Stood in a queue, a man walked in, and got served first:
It makes me so annoyed, that I feel like I want to burst.

Do people just not actually see me standing there?
Or is it because I’m so quiet, they basically just don’t care?
People don’t seem to worry how long, I may have been waiting.
Although, my pushiness factor doesn’t score that high a rating!

Sometimes in the street, I say ‘hi! ’ to people who I see,
But they don’t even react and just look straight through me.
When a guard on a train enters my carriage, and shouts ‘Tickets please! ’
How come he bypasses me and it’s only everyone else he sees?

When a person acknowledges that I was next in line, I’m very grateful,
But people who push in front of me, I find just very hateful.
When people queue jump, maybe I look the type, who won’t say anything,
And, maybe, that makes them feel important, just like a king.

If going round a room asking for input, a teacher got sidetracked,
Very rarely, to me, to ask for my opinion, would they come back.
Everyone is important, and everyone really matters.
If people are ignored, their confidence gets battered.

Doesn’t it ever matter to you, what I may think?
I always seem to be the invisible missing link!
If people can see and if, in their head, they’ve got eyes.
The fact that I’m stood there, how can they not realise?

Feeling invisible most of the time is certainly no joke;
I sometimes feel as if I’m wearing an invisibility cloak!
But, when I did my drama exam, I wasn’t ignored,
And, my sense of being, up to the sky, really soared.

That was my moment: it was my moment in time,
And I took the opportunity to prove, that I really could shine.
Maybe I just need to learn to appear as though I’m bold,
So as I no longer feel that I’m being left out in the cold.

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Of Ancient Mastodon, Sleepy Bee & Young Men Who Leap Too Soon From Bridges - Nightingale Confesses Into Straighter Teeth

'...descend, and of the curveship lend a myth to God.' - Hart Crane

Pueri aeterna, septem cadens
Etiam plures ad

The boys eternal, seven falling
Too many more to come

Jamey Rodemayer
Tyler Clementi
Raymond Chase
Asher Brown
Billy Lucas
Seth Walsh
Justin Aaberg

Sub olivae, pacem
Ut vos omnes adoremus orientatio

Under the olive trees, peace
May you all adore this orientation


******

"I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their
hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once
hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain."

- James Baldwin


'Ignacio goes up the tiers
with all his death on his shoulders.
He sought for the dawn
but the dawn was no more.
He seeks for his confident profile
and the dream bewilders him
He sought for his beautiful body
and encountered his opened blood

Do not ask me to see it! '

- Federico Garcia Lorca*


1


Even the pigeons on my stoop are silent now.
One mourning dove coos tenderly for these who
have taken their own lives publicly on our behalf,
for those many gone before them, broken hearts
enraged, no more to engage the unpersuaded
world which, one of them, one of the public ones,
in spite of murmuring wharves, in spite of amorous
dark alleys bitter in the pitch of the last hateful
American Century, Hart Crane, wrote before his leap
from the ship beside the phallic curve where Cuba
meets the lisping sea, took his tongue away which
sang of chill dawns breaking upon bridges whose
spans still freely splinter light returning hungover
from the night wharves, grottoes, and denim World
Wars, industrial embraces crushing every man and
now another one abandons his fingers and fiddling
to scattering light, takes flight from ledges to
edge close to an embrace no longer forbidden -

'And so it was I entered the broken world
to trace the visionary company of love...'

I am at the 'Way of Peace Bistro, ' where the server
Alberto whose cousins are the famous Wolf Boys in
Jalisco, Mexico, hirsute himself, gives me free double
espressos so I may hear his confession, who only just
yesterday came out to me in my confessional booth
here at the perpetually wobbly table in the far corner
at the cracked window rocking with Hart's un-confessed
bones wrapped in soothing silt which he now dreams
to be his silken pall.

Life is indeed strange above the veiled bottom.
I do receive confessions here where I weekly haunt
for studying, writing, chasing down dreams, waves,
receding horizons.

Why, I wonder, is each window where I sit cracked?

I am the itinerant priest who sits at meager feasts.
Suffering congregants, forlorn over their starfish
and soup, ask about dreams, confess to anguish, ask
what should be done. I consult espresso foam, open
the nearest book at hand willy nilly to see what advice
or wisdom might be gained from That which, we hope,
indiscriminately sustains us all here straining after
some realing thing to keep us going when Hart and
those too recent others obey some impulse to place
at last the final period, reifiying the punctuate
though unrepentant ending of this too too long run-on
sentence of hate. One hopes this period holds fast,
that Logos/meaning is somehow, plates of starfish
with fork and knife beside, true or truing at least.

One serves where needed. And when.
So come unto me you 'sad young men.
All the news is bad again so kiss your dreams goodbye.'**

Here at my confessional I can only plead mercy upon the boys
who have jumped from bridges, hung themselves, cut, sliced their
compulsive hands, exploded hearts, leaping dears eyes ablaze in
thrall of antlers, trembling flanks strong to fly decrying the
violent hunt which always ends in a death bequeathing these
chopped bits to me and to others like me who remain at table,
plates before, to stare at what is to be later scattered, sown,
these pieces in and for Love-without-name still a stain upon
confused local deities and their wild-eyed supplicants.


But there is no stain upon the promiscuous sea.

The compliant sky is not confused.

Neither is all that is between confused,
allowing birth and blessing, passing of
all kinds in all manner of motive and motion.
But in the human world, distressing, there
will be more boys, more men growing up as
from the very beginning where earliest enmity
mythically grew strong before shoes, before
hearts were capable of breaking, before turgid
theological floods spilled blood of brother
by brother turning witness stones toward silence,
echoing lamenting Federico,

'Do not ask me to see it! '

I don't want to see it!

I will not see it!

But I, but perhaps we, who remain to plant these
petaled parts of these unwitting scapegoats whose
eyes are milk now forever, we must bar sentimentality,
must move toward genuine knowing which comes from
the long hard stare beyond Milky Ways at the way
things still inexorably are. 'Nothing gets better -
or changes for the better - until it is what it is.'
But the falling ones, half-way to eternity while
here and eschewed, know what the 'is' is of the matter,
that it is the others, too many of them, who don't
or won't know, who willingly refuse to see 'what is'
in order to reach beyond the collective NOT SEE
solutions' of hetero-normative culture/religion.

Perhaps even in the deepest fault of the ocean that
very visionary company - in league with stuporous
pigeons, a mourning dove, me here who remains-not
-yet-remains, tearful over my espresso looking for
signs, finding only an endlessly fracturing rainbow,
remembering, too, the murmuring secrets of wharves
and co-mingled breath - that very visionary company
traces all the sunken ones, the jumping ones, those
with other means for departure by their own hands
empty now of demands for love.

Here I sit, arthritic living hands still
demanding, remembering full of past and
present griefs the Violin with a cut throat
in a youthful suicide once writ years ago,
hidden, hiding out, refusing to shout my
rage to Almighty 'Nothing-But':

Do not hear nothing but the cabin walls,
do not hear nothing but late summer roses
petal by petal leaping from the still too
white trellises, leaping pinkly, redly,
memory to breezes, overwhelmed by trellises
shagged with cut sleeves.***

But not me. Not yet.

I don't want to see it!

I will not see it.

On the mute page, the Violin refusing to sing

- in love with Garcia Lorca,
the goring horn of the Bull,
the destined cornada -

each and all appalling, commanding 'Write'
in long nights working where the mentally ill
wandered with me, keys ironically in my hand,
the yellowing hallways with even more ironic
EXIT signs brightly RED above the locked doors,
silent companions somnolent but for the jangling
joke of the keys.

Do not ask me to see it!

I don't want to see it!

I will not see it.


Still, I have now these better days in the Village,
broke or near to it, with eggs and beans, cheap but
edible things. An epicurean after all, I do luxuriously
head to the Polish butcher shop nearby to gather meat
but not any of the young butchers want to be gathered
- too Catholic - for Poland is 'passing strange' with
bad teeth, fingers stained with nicotine. Or is it rust
from once Curtains of Iron,

or the Blood of the Acetylene Virgin? ****

I get my meat, cook my greens and things, have good-enough feasts for garlic and the right spice make grander the demanded abstemiousness of current coin. I purloin my pleasure during eats in my dirty yet happy apron with recordings of poetry, lectures or a good aria or two to salt my food with tears, a blubbering fool beside his one low watt lamp, darkness too too comfortable like a pooch or cat at feet. What is that bleating in the darker corner? I shall wait for daylight to see what it can be. And if I can I shall free it from it's trap and in doing so perhaps free me from all this, all this witnessing as life demands I must, of young ones setting themselves free because they are forced to do so by collective psychopathology now rendered even more effective and efficient via technology, via internet, emphasis upon the 'net', where the ills set free from Pandora's Modem have only begun to be revealed.

But I shall use that 'net' and my still goodly paper and goodly pen to dim whatever ill tides there are and to come, as they surely will in spite of low wattage. I'll jangle keys on the night watches reading my mystic books, making my prayers with roamers of wards and wharves glancing up, considering bridges, edges, silty bottoms. The tides are here even now. But right now I wish to sing a lullaby in protest to those hurting departed, even to those coming ills, that I may sing innocence dumbly back to those who may come ashore again more gently having forgotten enforcing depths insisting them toward resistant yet resolved embraces...


...So breech then, waves. Feet first. Heads in the brine. I shall keep time on your wrinkled toes sticking up from the sand, play peek-a-boo. Then while you sleep I shall harvest gently, place them firmly in that old woman's shoe...'there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, had so many children she didn't know what to do'.

She may yet have learned what to by now.


I haven't. But for my one strange harvest here below...


2


Somniculosus Apis, Sleepy Bee
Ascendit infra me, He rises beneath me
Deus absconditus placet, The hidden God is pleased

He is busy even as I write this preparing a repast for many paying guests who will watch him cook sacred chilies of his Mother's garden born, who will hear him sing their praises...Krishna was over yesterday, nervous and excited about it all. Working out regularly at the gym he is now very toned, muscular in a good way, not too pumped in exaggerated lumps, and he is even more radiantly beautiful/handsome than when we first met beside the cardamom and the ghee in the intoxicating basement of the Indian spice and food shop not easily hidden, such aromas are not to be tucked down like the shop is beside and below the avenue.

Which flower should I adorn my table with? I ask, approaching shyly beside the spice bins. I buzz inside, a bee for the nectar.

If you serve, said he, If you serve with cardamom and ghee then flowers three are best, the jasmine, the oleander, the anthurium. But if choosing only one, he looks at me, something insistent, responding, in his eyes, I would choose for you the anthurium.

And so we began our time together, the cooking lessons, the first demur approaches, the blushing papayas, then the fires, the chilies harvested, curtains drawn. One day perhaps I to shall fall but in this way:

I shall fling back the curtains
Open the window
Throw cut sleeves for years
gathered, hidden, to the street.
Shouting out names of lovers,
I shall then leap openly into life
land softly upon the Autumn
ginkgo leaves and, golden,
kiss every parked car
on the street leaving
lips like leaves and all
the cut sleeves in love
with all the world and if
not all the world then
all the cars and a fiddle
dee dee for the fall of me


Yesterday I coached him on slowing down as he speaks (his accent is thickly, richly Tamil) , how to enunciate each syllable. He had several stories to choose from which he may relate to the guests, all of which he related to me, a sweet one of him as a little boy waking up at dawn, asking his dear mama for an omelet to eat:

'Sleepy Bee, ' she called to him. 'Go, my Sleepy Bee, to the garden and be sure to smell the jasmine there, touch softly the spices in trembling rows, fetch then some chilies of many colors and I will prepare for you a dish as you wish. When the teacher makes you sleepy by noon reach then your fingers to your face, smell the spices there, remember the touch of smooth skinned chilies whispering of lingering liaisons to come, and you will brighten my Sleepy Bee.'

A chili omelet she would make, a side of yogurt to soothe the burn, and milk from the cow drawn before dawn's first udder swelled against the press of distant hills where even the Temple soundly sleeps so very full and pleased with itself. Mother, each morning as he stumbles, rubbing his eyes, into the garden, tells him,

You may shout if you wish to wake

the Temple for the cow cannot speak -

Wake up! Awake! Make haste!

Lord Indra comes! Prepare the wicks,

the incense sticks for His Holy Fire!

Hasten! Hurry! Quicken!

There beside Lord Indra's captured fire in the little grate her Bee awakens watching her slow movements, the slicing of chilies, the removal of seeds, the washing again of plump hands, the cracking of eggs, beating them with the whisk, spreading ghee upon the hot flat stone, the enchantment of liquid whites and yokes becoming firm, becoming food. She turns them in round rhythms as she rhythmically prays.

After eggs and chilies are eaten comes the rose oil poured upon his raven hair smoothly brushed back to reveal his shining face, his smile. She prepares him for school with kisses, his uniform freshly cleaned, ironed, smelling, too, of rose-flavored soap. Then off to school with a lunch, a string of chilies of all colors sewn together, sewn when he was still in a waking dream.

'The chilies may burn, ' he tells me, speaking slowly, enunciating each syllable, practicing through smiles, returning to my gaze. 'But not like the touch of my mother's hand. She is far away but I can feel her burning hands on me now.' He smiles. I stammer. How can one enunciate such wonder?


Visionary company, Krishna, his mother, and me.


I have been encouraging Krishna (which is a funny thing to say, Krishna being a bold, blue God) to find a language coach to help him with his accent, to tone it down while keeping the wonderful music/lilt of it and he's going to do that...he complains of tilting his head as he talks 'as all Indians do' but I insist he merely speak and let his head and hands speak, too, in their own way. If he does more public events he will need to be understood clearly when he speaks while preparing his magnificent dishes from his country, his rich feasts of stories of the chilies from his mother's garden entwined by morning glories, the morning cock already at quarrel with the world just beyond the tin reaching in to take some spices too enticing to refuse...

I always feel as if he is, or will soon be, bored with me and my humble 'ministrations' but he sweeps into my little 'box-doir' - you recall how tiny my expensive studio on the 5th floor is! - like a Raj, a young prince beaming, brimming full of stories to tell me, usually some food, spicy hot, he has prepared for me, offered with a grin. Then he strips instantly down, lays upon the down pallet in easy, unabashed nakedness - it catches my breath, I do want to see! - checks his Blackberry for the latest cricket scores while I hurriedly 'hide' my Ganesha, the prominent statue of the god I have in front of my useless fireplace; this hiding I half understand...but still, naked, he has a fresh and beautifully made tattoo of Ganesha on his shoulder, he wears a Ganesha necklace, a Ganesha bracelet, and a Ganesha waist scapular, the image of which is just below his navel. So why, I ask only myself and Ganesha, never Krishna, why must I hide my large wooden Ganesha statue? But I do hide Him in deference to Krishna's wishes and meanwhile have intercourse with the god-in-miniature, scraping a necklace trunk with an ear, a tongue, receive a scapular kiss of the image upon my forehead as I trace those wonderful hairlines of the male body on my way to other deities.

Ah! give me all the beans in the world in all my poverty! Am I not, too, a Raj of floors and scented pillows, this beaming god beneath me thrusting utterly to reveal his secrets, his desires, his pleasures to me who am not a god?

Life, dear Valdosta, over all, is good, yes? I wish it no ill. But, agreeing with the cock, I will quarrel, even fight, with life when young men still leap too soon from bridges because I have learned (and relearn it hard lesson by hard lesson at a time) visionary company insists its tracings in many forms, man to man being but one holy expression, those sons, burning mother's hands upon them demanding, insisting to life that each her sons is a rajah, a Sleepy Bee.

So please the intemperate humanity, in the face of patient deities the burning ones are leaping still and I am ill with grief, with prayer, their dead bodies gone, their now emptier hands.


And he leaves me.


I return to my poems.

The room is filled with Krishna, aromas of rose oil in his hair, pungent spices in his sweat and upon his hands and skin, and sex.

I retrieve Lord Ganesha out from his little sanctuary of hiding (it seems I am always retrieving deities) and we both laugh richly. I remember to sprinkle some cologne upon Him, to pour out some milk into His votive bowl, to rub His belly, to light another candle (the other extinguished, panting, while we were busy bees exchanging knees and sighs, diffusing male spices into bracing air, fingers upon oily chilies thickening in always morning hunger) .

I light more incense and thank the Lord Ganesha in all his forms, appearing both large and small, His adornment of Secrets, though one cannot easily hide an Elephant, man-love and more in such a small infinite universe whose toes I seek to tickle then gather for a shoe as tides shrink and swell, grow and diminish depending upon the worshipers, those who will do so in spite of those who would kill delicate or manly infidels whose worship, forever babies breath, is all the more meaningful.

Be damned the trellises. The petals shall reach, shall extend outward.

The violin's throat cut.

'Do not ask me to see it! '

Then, Ganesha restored to His rightful place; good-natured about being hidden, it is back to the kitchen, the slicing of the onion, the crushing of the garlic, the pouring of the wine, the selecting of the greens and washing them of the clinging sand and grit they kindly bring, then to the pot to cook them in, the meat to go with, and begins the fire, O Indra, more aromas extend into, entwine with what Krishna has left to me and the god and I am grateful, full of heart, for each time he is here is a miracle. A grace. Mother India with hot hands gifts me one of Her Raj's who graces me with his presence evoking praise bestowed from oft bitter lips and tongue made the more bilious by aging, aching joints, laxer muscles, and yet the encroaching decrepitude is bent and stretched, the better for the wear from Krishna's 'half nelsons' and yogic overreaches. More the better for me.

Yet I remain bitter, too, from the senseless loss of young men who could not endure, no fault of their own, for sure, who leap from bridges, forced to by killing edges broken open within and by hateful, fearful others forgetting, if ever had, those restorative burning constancies of a Mother's hands upon them

I have placed your picture, dear Valdosta, upon my altar beside Lorca's portrait, and Hart Crane's young face, the image of a sweet Christ holding a lamb en perpetua, and the yellowed newspaper clipping from Spain of the Matador's death, along with photos of the young men in the past two weeks who have joined Hart becoming ghostly visionary company. They now remain forever chaste not having lived long enough to be wasted, emptied of love from loving deeply out into love for more love, endlessly bleeding out like our Lorca, a corrida of laurel encircling his head no longer remembering but remembering only one sound, guns exploding outward, extending, bullets, petals, one by one beyond the wall where he stood stunned, 'how young and handsome are assassins' faces', he flew backward in the wall graced with his brave shadow then his blood until he fell. I believe he fell hard for life demands it as does death which will continue its duende.

Love, as Hart and all hearts love, is still a vision not yet fully, solidly formed in spite of stones and walls forgetting noble shadows, but there are foolish Krishnas, restoring Krishna-moments, patient hidden gods though human hearts and bodies remove themselves from the potter's wheel too early, too broken, too tired, too alone to try to shape love from Love from the tiny shard, the remnant bone of the ancient mastodon, the last one, dreaming within each heart of that Love which all Nature yearns for.

I pray for my inherited brood of brothers, and remember to be gay for all the gray afternoons in this sad but forgiving confessional, while not forgetting mine and the cock's quarrel with life, in the booth by the cracked window near the corner of 7th and Second.

I am yours, bleating, sometimes crowing, but almost always bestowing praise. I am loved, Valdosta, and I love you.


N. Nightingale


******************

*Opening quote is from Lorca's elegy, 'Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías'

** The Ballad of the Sad Young Men

Music written by: Tommy WolfLyrics written by: Fran Landesman

(best version sung that I know of is by an aged Mabel Mercer in concert, hard to find it now) 

Sing a song of sad young men
Glasses full of rye
All the news is bad again so
Kiss your dreams goodbye

All the sad young men
Sitting in the bars
Knowing neon nights
Missing all the stars

All the sad young men
Drifting through the town
Drinking up the night
Trying not to drown

All the sad young men
Singing in the cold
Trying to forget
That they're growing old

All the sad young men
Choking on their youth
Trying to be brave
Running from the truth

Autumn turns the leaves to gold
Slowly dies the heart
Sad young men are growing old
That's the cruelest part

All the sad young men
Seek a certain smile
Someone they can hold
For a little while

Tired little bird,
She does the best she can
Trying to be gay for her
sad young man

While the grimy moon
Blossoms up above
All the sad young men
Play at making love

Misbegotten moon
Shine for sad young men
Let your gentle light
Guide them home again

All the sad young men


***In China homosexuality was referred to as 'the cut sleeve'.

Read an excellent account of this in

Passions of the Cut Sleeve, The Male Homosexual Tradition in China.

http: //www.ucpress.edu/book.php? isbn=9780520078697

 ****Surrealistic Sutures For The Acetylene Virgin by Warren Falcon

'I think that poetry should stay awake all night drinking in dark cellars.' - Thomas Merton


Look to the body for metaphor


Look to blood, use this word
in relation to dreams or flowers
while silver runs in veins which
are usually streets or vines.

Breasts, male and female,
are stars, have to do with
a handful or feet to span them.

Abdomen, then, is a great
Milky Way gathering,
holding, expelling comets,
caroling colons' humming.

Spleens are bones to
pick teeth with, teeth
which are, of course,
sea horses or gravestones
bearing images of the Flagrant
Heart to tame this spot of
gypsum and flint, to charm
where Violin's cut throat
sings itself awake, one
black breast out of its fold
slapping metal seas against
dropping metal shores in
Sidelight's shadow across
this hand writing now,
slap of waves mute in
this stillness of knees.

So lend a darkness to gardens,
ancient pattern of a breast,
cloth lightly lifting, black on black.

From Her chest reveal a slenderer throat
that nods when she swallows
and names her peace.

The delicate will not pass away just yet.


Great Seamstress of Space

sew, please,

with fingers of dew.

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The Impact Of Poverty On Education

THE IMPACT OF POVERTY ON EDUCATION.

INTRODUCTION

There are so many different tools that have been thought relevant in people’s developmental projects both at individual and societal levels. Education is one of such practical tools. Importantly to note, there are also various meanings that denote the broad term ‘education’. In this essay, however, we are mainly interested in defining formal education since our discussion will dwell much on it. According to Nwomonoh (1998) , formal education is the process of gaining knowledge, attitudes, information and skills during the course of life especially at school.

Though education is said to be so instrumental in human development but also in the revamping of world economies, it is very unfortunate that education systems, world wide, are being held to ransom all because of poverty at both governmental and household levels. According to Thibault (2009) , poverty means the shortage of common things such as food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water, all of which determine our quality of life. It may also include lack of access to opportunities like education and employment which aid the escape of poverty.

Problems in our society are interconnected in one way or the other, just like poverty and personal family problems affect a student’s capability to learn. Improving education entails improving the living conditions of students. Having in mind that education is basically responsible for the development of many countries including Malawi, as the back ground suggests, we cannot afford to bypass such a vital element without a mention. Considering also the fact that poverty is one of the forces that come in the way; blocking the success of education, we feel it rational to look at how the two realities, education and poverty, affect each other both positively and negatively. That is also why we are convinced that this topic is worth studying. Our awareness of this source, poverty, and its impact on education will enable us devise some proper measures of intervention with the hope of minimizing the negative impact of poverty on education. This point, in short, explains the purpose of our investigation and why we are so passionate in getting into this research. During the whole discussion we are being guided by two questions thus, ‘does poverty really affect education? And if it does, what points do we have on the positive and negative impacts of poverty on education? ’

METHODOLOGY

The study was basically qualitative in approach because of the nature of the issue that was being addressed. This was the case because the issue of how poverty affects education, both positively and negatively is particularly very difficult to predict the conclusions without penetrating into the core of the issue. For instance, one may unreasonably rush into concluding that poverty affects education negatively only and we cannot even dare to speak of poverty affecting education positively. The study was conducted in three schools namely; Mulunguzi, Masongola and Chirunga Private Secondary schools in Zomba district between 24th April and 3rd May. In this research we used both government and private funded schools to have a more balanced result on how poverty affects formal education in these different institutions. The information required for the study was collected through group interviews of form three students and individual interviews with teachers using semi-structured interview schedules. We opted to use these interviews in the first place because we felt books are more theoretical whereas a field research is practical and it involves real life experiences. Nevertheless, we still used desk research as a supplementary source of information and for clarity in some areas.

RESULTS

Positive impacts of poverty on education
To begin with, poverty encourages one to get educated and of course work hard in class. This is because the problems faced due to poverty are very serious and therefore students who are from poverty stricken families strive to end the problems and one of the best solutions is through education. That is to say, if a person, for instance, due to poverty, is taking just a meal in a day instead of three meals, and again if he/she is sometimes sleeping on an empty stomach, he/she will resort to education bearing in mind that if he/she gets educated they will secure formal employment and eventually be able to make ends meet for themselves as well as fending for their families.

Not only does poverty encourage one to get educated, but also it helped in the introduction of free primary education. In Malawi, for instance, when Bakili Muluzi became president, he introduced free primary education and he had eliminated the requirements for school uniform forthwith (Kadzamira & Rose,2001) . This had increased the access to education dramatically as those pupils who were coming from less privileged families were also given access to this free primary education. It should also be noted that the free primary education system was not only implemented to fulfill an electoral pledge but also bearing in mind that some families were not able to send their children to school due to poverty. Free primary education was there to deal with illiteracy by reducing families’ direct costs of education. Again due to the influx in the number of pupils in primary schools; there was a lack of teachers. Sonani (2002) , testifies that the Ministry of Education re-employed all retired teachers below the age of 65. This also meant that the once retired teachers got back to their source of income which helped them support their families as well as hauling the economy of the country. The implementation of free primary education system in Malawi forced the government to provide infrastructures so as to accommodate the large number of pupils in these schools. Simply put, poverty had led to the introduction of free primary education which means that more children are going to school, and again more teachers are being trained and getting employed and finally the construction of school blocks culminating into infrastructural development, all these branching from poverty.

We may also look at poverty from a positive angle bearing in mind that when a country is poor more funds and donations come into it. These funds and donations are also given to the education sector to build new infrastructures and in the maintenance of already existing ones in the sector. These privileged countries also provide learning materials to schools that are poor as a result students in these less privileged schools perform well in accordance with the amount and quality of the learning materials that they have been provided with. For instance, a United States based non governmental organization known as “Water for People” handed over 44 water toilets they built to Chimwankhunda primary school. The school toilet facilities had been vandalized 11 years ago but because of poverty the school could not renovate them (Gausi,2007) .

In addition, these funds and donations help more people to get educated. This is so because people can use funds as school fees, pocket money and buy stationery. The donations may include library books, chairs and writing materials. These can make a conducive environment for one to learn since there will be enough facilities at the school. For instance, with funding from the “United States Agency for International Development” (USAID) ,3,300 needy Malawian primary school girls are being funded. They are being provided with food, clothing, school supplies and hygienic products like soap and body lotion (Muhaliwa,2005) . Likewise,500 pupils at Katoto primary school in Mzuzu no longer sit on the floors during lessons courtesy of Southern Bottlers Limited and Lions Club of Limbe. Before these funds and donations, pupils used to sit on the floor due to scarcity of desks. These donations improved the pupils’ school attendance in such a way that pupils have started going to school regularly.

In the same line, a needy student can be given a scholarship to go further with his/her education. In this case the scholarship is given to the person just because he/she cannot manage to pay school fees on her own. This in turn benefits the needy person and the community at large. In this situation poverty has assisted in the development of education in an area by beckoning funds and donations from rich countries and organisations.

Further more; in most cases poverty facilitates one’s ambitions to attain formal education. It becomes easier for a poor child to put much of his concentration on education as compared to a rich child. This is because a poverty stricken student will have less destructive materials for entertainment. He/she will also have less or no money to indulge him/herself in activities that require spending a lot of money for instance, drinking beer. Sometimes even if the child can find money he/she can buy basic needs and not just spending it anyhow. Contrast to this a rich child may obtain things like ipods, mp3s, games for entertainment. These things in most cases destruct the concentration of students in their studies. As a result, one’s class performance is negatively affected since most of his/her time is being spent on entertainment.

Negative impacts of poverty on education

Just as a coin has got two sides, a head and a tail, poverty also, apart from having positive impacts on education, it does have negative impacts on the same. We have talked much about the positive face of poverty on education. We shall surely do ourselves injustice if we do not look at the negative part. In spite of the fact that poverty has an impact on education that is worth complimenting, we cannot afford in this discussion to overlook the point that so many students have been forced to leave the corridors of learning institutions due to the same poverty. One of the reasons that force some students leave the learning institutions prematurely is pregnancy, which in most cases, come because of poverty. It is almost common knowledge that a good number of students who come from poor families wish they could be sailing in the same boat with those who come from well to do families as far as luxurious life is concerned. The poor students constantly feel that there is something missing at the core psychologically. With this feeling in their minds, they tend to regard themselves as incomplete and not accepted socially. Consequently, they envy the rich students and squarely want to posses the things that are associated with the rich students. Very unfortunate that the poor students’ parents cannot afford to fulfill their children’s desires like what the rich parents would provide. Because the pull towards recognition is too strong for the poor students to resist, they end up in indulging themselves into prostitution in their search for money. Pity indeed that instead of recreating, as anticipated, their promiscuous behavior sees most of them getting pregnant and for some very unfortunate ones get even HIV and other STIs. From this discussion, commonsense convinces us that this school dropp out due to pregnancy is one of the negative impacts of poverty on education.

Adding more flesh to this discussion, we can also appreciate that hunger has been so instrumental in bringing down the standards of education world wide, in general, and Malawi, in particular. Frankly speaking, there are very few students if not none, who concentrate on their studies on empty stomachs. Food is one of the basic needs that every person is obliged to have if he/she is to survive. It is not surprising, therefore, to see some students performing miserably in class simply because they have not taken enough food or they have taken none altogether. The question of hunger finds its way into the education system because the government has failed to provide adequate food in most of its boarding schools. This is poverty at governmental level. There are also some students who are not boarders but still endure the hostile reality of hunger right in their homes. This is due to poverty at household level. It is sad that poverty, both at governmental and household level, has helped in engineering the deteriorating of education standards in Malawi.

Bearing in mind that it is only the eagle that can tell us the real whisper of a cloud, we visited Masongola Secondary school with the hope of getting first hand information from the students and their teachers since they are the ones who mostly benefit or get destructed by poverty. The Masongola secondary school students and their teacher, Mr. Enock Abraham, testified to us during an interview that government’s inability to provide extra food, apart from the usual beans that the institution offers, has seen many students developing ulcers. It would sound bizarre to reason that one can attend classes whilst he/she is on a hospital bed battling with ulcers. The Masongola students further testified that most poor students who have ulcers just bow down out of the race of learning because they cannot afford to buy extra food whenever the institution is serving the students beans.

This pitiful development goes beyond the boundaries of Masongola secondary school. Mulunguzi secondary school as Mr……the head teacher at the institution testifies, has not been spared from the scourge of school dropp outs simply because the school has not been able to provide extra or adequate food to students who cannot take what their friends take on health grounds. Needless to say this leaves the education standards in Malawi vacillating. It is a pity that though we have wrestled with this question of poverty a dozen times, we have not been successful in the battle. At one point in time, the government attempted to minimize the chances of school dropout in primary schools through its provision of porridge to pupils in the junior section. This attempt was in itself a good gesture but the government has failed to implement the initiative further in other schools that up to now have not benefited from the program.

It may not sound an exaggeration if we may say poverty has also forced a good number of students to give up their hopes of getting educated simply because they find it so difficult traveling to and from their respective schools. Lack of transport means, in short, has pushed them well towards the blink of despair as far as attaining formal education is concerned. This point speaks for itself how poverty can sometimes work on the education’s disadvantage.

As we go further with this discussion, we also appreciate the fact that the problem that mostly hinders a student’s success is inadequate resources that include; few teachers and learning materials. It must be highlighted that these problems are not only in developing countries but they may also find their way in reasonably developed countries like South Africa. In a developing country like Malawi, the education system encounters these problems because of the government’s failure to look into problems of infrastructure, capacity and availability of teaching and learning materials (Nkawike,2005) . The Muluzi government did a little if any; in as far as infrastructure is concerned. Lack of school blocks facilitated by a large number of pupils due to the introduction of the free primary education in 1994, forced pupils to have lessons under trees. In 2003, for example, lack of school blocks resulted in a tragedy at Nkomachi in Lilongwe when a tree fell onto an outdoor class, resulting in injury and deaths of pupils (Mvula & Chanika,2004) . This problem of learning materials continues till date, in all levels of the education system. According to Abraham (2009) , the school has always had shortage of learning blocks to an extent that the Physical Science and Biology laboratories are used as classrooms. There is also great shortage of books in all departments, and some departments like the technical department needs new equipment and current books which are very expensive. With this unfortunate situation we cannot anticipate good performance from Masongola secondary school.

In order to deal with these issues, the Muluzi government thought it wise to disregard the provision of learning materials in schools. Instead the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) pass mark was reduced to ensure the success of students in their examinations. Even the director of Basic Education, Nelson Kaperemera admitted that funds intended for learning materials were servicing the debts of government at the expense of improving quality education. Instead of reducing the pass mark, the government and other stake holders should strive to improve quality of education, improve teacher salaries, and provide adequate materials and train teachers properly (Malawi News,2006) .

In developing countries like Malawi, the schools are understaffed (teaching personnel) and they tend to be handling a large number of students for long hours. Furthermore, the teachers are subjected to meager salaries, which are even made late. The government does not seem to have the welfare of teachers at heart, for instance the education Manager for Phalombe, Enoch Ali says the district is facing a dire shortage of teachers, a situation that is contributing to low education standards. The teacher pupil ratio in Phalombe is 1: 120, whilst the recommended ratio is 1: 60 (The Nation,2006) . Due to low pay teachers resort to organizing part time classes, which demand an extra amount of money on top of the normal fees. These changes clearly affect those students who come from very poor families, as they do not receive adequate studies because of lack of money.
This does not only occur in secondary schools, but it also happens in universities. As the academic staff of the Universities go on strike because of the government’s reluctance to increase their salaries. One considers how this is supposed to retain staff in the University. As a result lecturers spend more time doing consultancies; instead of preparing lectures and doing University mandated research. If we are serious about fighting poverty, formal education is the hub of ideas to fight these problems by improving its standards (Kapasula,2008) .
Child labour is one of the major problems that contribute to school dropp out. The majority of child labour victims are children who are living in poverty. This is so because they lack basic needs, for this reason they are forced even against their will to do any kind of work in order to gain financial wealth. This, therefore, affects school attendance. Evidence of school dropp out due to child labour is found in central region where most children are being employed in estates. This region has high tobacco production. Since this crop demands a lot of work, children are at high demand because they do not claim high wages compared to adults. Research, therefore, showed that the percentage of children attending schools is lower compared to that of northern and southern region (Nyirongo,2004) . We have the case of two brothers aged between 12 and 15 who were forced to work at a tobacco farm at Mpherembe in Kasungu district, where they were receiving 150 kwacha a day due to poverty (Namangale,2005) . We can see that child labour has a great impact on education because through it, a lot of children are being deprived of their right to education as they spend most of their time working.

In addition to that, Chirwa (2003) found out that child labour is also taking place in people’s houses. In this case children are forced to dropp out of school either by parents or on their own, to work in neighbouring homes. Here one of the victims is a 12 year old girl Elizabeth Chalimba, who left school when she was in standard six to work as a nanny in order to support her siblings. Children from low income families are at risk because though school is their only hope for a better future, they dropp out because their parents are failing to provide them with basic needs. Apart from child labour, psychological problems due to poverty is also another cause of school dropp outs. Research shows that the impact of poverty is greater on children as opposed to adults. Firstly, the problem arises due to the environment in which these children are raised. These environments being impoverished, they are intellectually unstimulating, and lack of stimulation results in impaired intellectual development of a child. This in turn contributes to failure in class which can later on lead to school dropp out.

Another problem comes when disadvantaged children are at school, they fail to understand why they do not have the same access to materials as their well to do friends. All of a sudden they start considering themselves failures and that there is little they can do about their destiny. Furthermore, if in class their friends or sometimes teachers seem not to care much about them, they get disturbed emotionally. Unable to cope with these psychological and physiological needs, they react by withdrawing out of school to be at home where friends and parents show interest in them. In some cases children living in poverty do not complete their education because they lack inspiration and support from parents. These children receive either little or no inspiration and support as compared to those who come from middle or high income earning families. This is so because their parents did not go far with their education, and are not fully aware of the crucial role education plays in their children’s future. This also happens because their parents are often absent leaving no one at home to supervise or assist their children with school work. As a result, this often affects children’s education and decreases the probability that they could go far with their studies (Weinstein,1999) .

CONCLUSION

This discussion has addressed to a greater extent problems encountered in the education sector due to poverty. While the elucidation pays more attention to the negative impacts of poverty on education, at some points it also highlights some of the positive impacts which are greatly outweighed in our discussion. Firstly, we discussed the positive impacts on education whereby; Poverty forces one to get educated by working hard, it helped in the introduction of free primary education system (in Malawi) , developed countries give funds to poor countries and poverty gets a person away from destructive ‘social pleasures’ of the world. Afterwards, we discussed the negative impacts whereby; poverty affects a person psychologically, poor people get limited resources (food and materials) , as a result, there is an increase in dropouts and lastly the personnel in the education systems are not fully equiped by the government. These findings are very vital to secondary schools as they enable us approach the problems in those schools squarely and well prepared. After the research we also look at poverty from a perspective that would not be taken by many. Thus, after reflecting on the positive impacts of poverty on education, we tend to look at poverty as a blessing in disguise. Our awareness of whatever findings we have on the table after the investigation, will help us see where things are not well and how or what should be done to address the problems. It is only from the findings that a way for our intervention is paved to minimize the negative impact of poverty on education.

RECOMMENDANTIONS

These results can be used in Secondary schools in the following ways;
• Schools should identify those students who are needy to receive donations.
• Teachers should adjust their timetables or come up with make up classes to accommodate students who come from distance places.
• Teachers or social workers should provide psychological help to students who are affected psychologically by poverty.
• Government should provide some transport means like buses and enough learning materials.
• Those who need special diet on health grounds should be given food that suits their condition.
• Schools should encourage Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meetings to discuss the welfare of the students.

LIST OF REFERENCES

Gausi, C. (September 12,2007) US NGOs refurbishes toilets for schools. The Nation. p4.
Muhaliwa, M. (August 9,2005) CRECCOM in new girl’s education program. Daily Times. p4.
Sobo. (May 22,2006) Coca-Cola serves katoto FP school. The Nation.p12.
Namangale, f. child labor shifts to small farms (Ecam) . CFSC press review.
October 2005, p.56
Nyirongo, E.H.K. poor education is by religion. CFSC press review. January 2005, p.52
Weinstein, G.1986. The disadvantaged: challenge to education. Harper & row: London
Nwomonoh, J. (1998) Education and development in Africa. London: I.S.P. Publications.
Pp255-257
Sonani, B. (2002, Sept.21-27) .Temporary teachers’ programme collapses.Malawi News, p.3
Kadzamira, E.& Rose, P.(2001, January) .Education policy choice and policy practice in Malawi: Dilemmas and disjunctures. Institute of Development Studies working paper,124.

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