The above tricksy dicksiness, of course, from the great Pat Oliphant (born in Adelaide, Australia — who knew), a greeting card in my collection since MCMLXXXII. "Of tendentious or tangential topicality, tickling the turbid, turgid, turbulent twitwits of our tempestuous times," it says on the back.
My own recent disappearance owed as much to a medical mystery tour as to my mother's death, fresh as that peck of dirt may be. We were at a cardiologist's office at the height of the recent violent gale and it drove me back to Julius Caesar's tempests dropping fire, my first WS ever on the page and to passages like this:
Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man
Most like this dreadful night,
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars
As doth the lion in the Capitol,
A man no mightier than thyself or me
In personal action, yet prodigious grown
And fearful as these strange eruptions are.
And those eruptions and passages — given the just-concluded Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary tomorrow— put me in mind of my own WS (but this time Wallace Stevens) spoof, written right after the capture of Saddam Hussein:
MILHOUS AS KING OF THE GHOSTS
A cold cellar-hole at the end of the day,
When faithless pretenders cover the sun
And nothing is left but my candidacy—
There was dead Checkers with her list of slights,
Slow tongue, green bile, black list, white mind
And April, cruel as rumors of my demise.
To be, on the lawns, where no helicopter lands,
Without that preening statuette of dog,
That dog surrendered to the moon;
And to feel that the light is a Key Biscayne light
In which everything is lofted up to the elect
And no returns need be tallied;
Then there is no use in counting. It comes of itself;
All the blue votes turning a brilliant red,
Even in Chicago. The wind moves on the lawns
And moves in myself. The last Iowa sweetcorn
Is for me, the snows of New Hampshire drift up
Into an empire of self that knows no boundaries,
I become an empire that fills the oleaginous pipelines
Of the earth. The bitch is still yapping
By gravestone-light and I am whipped high, whipped
Up, sculpted higher and higher, cool as a sphinx—
I sit with my head like a Rushmore in space
And the scrofulous hound smelling blood on my wings.
From The Richard Nixon Snow Globe, Wild Honey Press
Is Christmas over? A good thing, perhaps, to judge from my sleepy progeny:
But they're still playing the holly-jolly muzak in the doctors' offices, for which (at the very least) someone should be ritually disemboweled.
Too many wake-up calls of late, as if we needed them, but I'll be here as time and vicissitudes permit, with love (real and true) and poesy for all.