Baudelaire in Bruxelles

a silent cartoon wanders
the non-descript chaussee
over bridges it casts its
chisel comic-book shadows
illuminated by a passing
policeman’s truncheon light
as air; that withered stare
turns flowerboxes to stones
or the dogs to barking fruit
stalls there in the internet
cafe glare baudelaire calls
burundi for twelve cents –
resenting the booth’s semi-
privacy (one hand in pocket
jiggling … hear the retort
of verlaine’s little gun as
though he’s not there & the
women are all black now in
this frame; thought bubbles
crammed with grammatical
marks suggesting curses in
parlour rooms filled with
that unbearable sound of
harpsichords playing french
tunes … & he sees in this
zone between falling empires
the rest of his days spread
out like a cloak on a corpse
then he sets to work on his
autopsy classifies quickly
my various welts & cuts –
dissecting this version of
humanity that we thought he
left behind in his native
hollowed city of whoredom;
(it becomes unbearable &
he descends upon some poor
white page wraith like the
starling on crumbs of bread
tossed onto the pavement –
near those carefully parked
diplomats’ cars … he flees
the sound of an approaching
score & nina simone’s singing
run to the river to the rock

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