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"And I am in despair that time may bring Approved patterns of women or of men But not that selfsame excellence again." -- W.B.Yeats
SongBehold this age of wart and wen that Demos -- strong, well-washed -- acclaims, the loveliness of hydrogen. Where are the souls that soared like flames? Where walk those lithe and learnèd men? Where plot those bright and baleful dames, Minerva, they, and Magdalen? Where beat those hearts the world acclaims? The sweating world the great disfames. The eagle's now a brevipen. They faint, those bright and baleful dames. They nod, those lithe and learnèd men.© Carl Selph, 1993 First published in The Lyric
Gino at MassInitiate of Mysteries, He bows before the Hierophants, God on his tongue. Pains in his knees Recall his new, expensive pants. To Miniato's holy shrine His vaguely kindred soul is led To honor with the bread and wine Another disconnected head. Does sanctity perfume the air From his petition, perfect, clean? The aura glowing round his hair Is the result of brilliantine. A goatish smell makes one beware The holiness in Gino's eyes And hold as somewhat doctrinaire The hasty news of Pan's demise.© Carl Selph, 1999(Note: Miniato, a Roman soldier martyred for his Christian beliefs, climbed a hill beside the Arno carrying his severed head in his hands, set it down, and there a church was built.)
The ButcherHis taurine head may sign Cretan descent; but, with a gaze like Ferdinand's, he cuts a succulent small chop (perhaps from a distant cousin's loin), each movement deft, no finger risked, as one bull's eye takes in, ankle to crotch, the long, brown, leaper's legs come to the white-tiled heart of the labyrinth to check the price of carnal tenderness.© Carl Selph, 1999
The Greengrocer's DaughterAmid raspberries, canteloupes, fresh lettuces and shelled white beans, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, dimpled and fat before the shining scale she rises like the Venus, gold and rose, accepting with a calm regard a sacrifice of cabbages as tribute to her lavish limbs.© Carl Selph, 1999
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