If there’s a connection between this simple new drawing and the old poem that follows, I don’t know what it is. But seeing it — seeing him — I thought I recognized a denizen of the old street-side cafés, an unknown, unsung member of the Lost Generation. The poem, of course, is utter foolishness, as all poems are that are purposely funny but true, and some days, like today, truer than they are funny. And yet it’s serious too. How easily the tables are turned, to reveal the old gum and lovers’ secret messages underneath. And why the made-up language? I suspect because life then was a listening thing, just as it is now.
The Waiters (Long Live the Revolution)
Someday, my friend, we’ll have a table in the sun.
(There will be tables in abundance, I assure you.)
We’ll sit for hours, drinking, smoking, and talking about
Crazy street-side performers and newly minted books,
The balloon-man’s enormous mustache, and children’s eyes,
How they reflect musicians, poets, and colorful signs.
We’ll loudly discuss the uprising and other hysterical events,
The rapidly falling price of apple pies, cooking oil,
And a pound of éclairs, solé non broubon fondueliz, the girl on the stairs,
The uniformed men marching on Boomblatz Strasse,
All of them late for the train, brightly Phoooooooooo! sounds the whistle
Heedless of their solé fon armament, stomp, stomp, stomping
In their leather-gouted, maniacal shoes.
Have faith, I tell you, for the day will surely come:
Perhaps later, perhaps never, but certainly soon.
Be prepared: there will be more to say than there is to know.
See those men there? The arrogant ones with blood on their hands?
You can tell by their eyes they’ve lied on a thousand occasions.
Labor is beneath them: they thrive by deceit alone.
And the serfs at their elbows? We are here to chew their food.
How easy it would be to set fire to their hair! How paltry, yet grand!
My friend, these criminals are but a gust away from flames.
And you and I, by a lucky twist of parfait, are here to watch them burn.
Songs and Letters, February 4, 2006