That Night in London; A Cold Call; A Zodiac for the 22nd Century
That Night in London
That night in London Stephen Spender said
come to my party Allen Tate is passing
through again on his way somewhere we went
in our Guggenheim suit and tie to St. John’s Wood
to stand foursquare beside Sir Herbert Read
the multilateral critic of everything
in his narrow worsted disinclined to argue
with Gin and It for the purpose of agreement
under a widespread hat like the small roof
of a gazebo Rose Macaulay the center pole
sustaining the Near East for likes of Cyril
Connolly’s vested interest in hors d’oeuvres
between John Hayward’s thumb and middle finger
out from under the Thomist tom-tom sternum
of eliotic outsiders beside his wheelchair
where Colin Wilson was heeling and pointing out
with flushed-to-the-eyeballs tweedy Henry Reed
naming his parts indifferently for the amusement
of oracular almost-sober Louis MacNeice
whose bagpipe gaze caught Sonia Orwell ready
to leave the guest of honor having delivered
to his own event one macrocephalic Tate
hrd by her elbow coked for the remainder
and loaded now for the immediate future
but not for hers we asked ourselves in the doorway
have we risen to this occasion or talked our way
out of it for good God who can remember
anything anyone said to anybody
at a literary blur with all our eyes
off-center out of focus meanwhile Stephen
was saying please drop by tomorrow evening
to benefit the Hungarian Revolution.
A Cold Call
Holly is calling me from the cemetery.
She wants to plot my future. She really wants me
to be considerate of my loved ones
in advance, to make all the arrangements
now so none of them will have to feel
the expensive thrill of it at the wrong time,
and she can make a place for me all at once
over the phone and spare every one of us
our pain and awkwardness. The facilities
I wouldn’t believe. They’re in a sylvan setting
which means it’s like under trees with a very tasteful
horizontal stone so the grass around it
can be mowed off of my name and dates and a twelve-
(or under)-letter characterization
engraved there (such as Dearest or Beloved
or in my case Husband) would be visibly
permanent regardless of growth. She’s offering
today what she won’t call a once-in-a-lifetime
discount, but let’s face it, it sort of is.
A Zodiac for the 22nd Century
We will endure under new signs and wonders.
For Aries, Sheep. For Taurus, Horny Ox.
For Gemini, Octuplets. For Cancer, More Cancer.
For Virgo, Call Girl. Sagittarius, Sniper.
Libra, Short Weight. Scorpio, Radiation.
Pisces, Dead Cod. Aquarius, Dry Well.
Leo, Jackal. Capricorn, Judas Goat.