El Segundo Blue

here is a road that stops
and another and another and
the last one goes up and over

there you are

you can see
at last from here
the old folks see it all

dead vacant

at the Wayfarers Chapel
little verses mar the view
the little view

up the hill
the little view

the dead cove
the shuttered pleasure palaces

teapot tempest

I see figured as in a poem
say by Mallarmé
a landscape

tinkle of spoons

here is the magic ordering
of all experience

in a slurping
and a burping

of our tea

jailhouse rock

howsawhatsabout matter
says the jailer
and what are you in for?

life of course
says the prisoner insouciantly

well then says the jailer
we'll have to show you the ropes

stop the presses

I see his image rude immobile
standing there holding outright a paper
with its headline
a stack of them under his arm

In the Woods

Others---innocents or else lymphaticals---
Find in the woods nothing but charms languorous,
Fresh breezes and warm perfumes. They are felicitous!
Others feel seized there---dreamers---by scares mystical.

They are felicitous! Me, nervous, and whom a remorse
Appalling and vague affrights all intermission without,
Through forests I tremble after the manner of a coward
Who feared to fall in a trap or saw before him corpses.

Those great branches never appeased, like the groundswell,
Whence falls a black silence with a shadow more
Black yet, all that dreary and sinister decor
Fills me with horror trivial and profound as well.

Especially evenings of summer: the red of the setting sun
Fades into the greyish blue of mists it tinges
With conflagration and blood; and the angelus that rings
Distantly seems a plaintive cry approaching one.

The wind rises hot and heavy, a shiver passes
And repasses, ever stronger, in the thickness
Ever darker of the lofty oaks, obsessive,
And disperses, like a miasma, into space.

Night comes on. The owl flies off. It is the instant
When of naive grandmas' narratives one thinks---
Under a bush, yonder, yonder, living springs
Make a sound of assassins posted taking counsel.

Paul Verlaine
tr. C. Mulrooney

(c) Christopher Mulrooney 2001
Christopher Mulrooney
lives in Los Angeles and does poetry, fiction, translations & photography (such as the shot of the Grand Canyon above).