Self-portrait with flowers
I walk past the Jesuit Church
where the shoe-shine boys store
polish, brushes, and chairs overnight.
I walk past the wrought-iron bench
where the gay guys sit, caressing,
asking the unsuspecting to join them.
Nobody bothers to ask me for a match,
for a drink, for charity, for a walk
down the alley to a cheap hotel.
The witch doctor is the one who throws
the hands of all the clocks into the air
at midnight, in despair.
He’s the one who leaves this place,
and returns to this place, all places being one.
The witch doctor sees little things
that other men don’t see. He reaches out
and flicks a fly away from my nose.
“It too has lost its way,” he sighs.
I think I know who I am,
but I often have doubts when I shave,
rasping the razor across my chin’s dry husks.
The witch doctor, my lookalike, my twin,
stares back at me from my bathroom mirror.
Three witches dance on the waning soap dish.
One spins the yarn, one measures the cloth,
one wields the knife, that will one day sever
the thread of I, who the same as all
poor creatures, was born only to die.
You too must one day look in that mirror,
oh hypocrite lecteur,
mon semblable, mon frère.
Comment: My thanks to all those who click on earlier poems and express their liking for them. I am particularly pleased when an earlier poem lacks a voice reading. Then I can revisit it, rethink it, rewrite it, record it, and speak it aloud. Here’s the link to the earlier version of the poem Charles Baudelaire. Fast away the old year passes, and we must renew ourselves, our thoughts, and our poetry for the new year soon to be upon us. To all my readers, old and new, welcome to that world.