(after Brett Whiteley)
1. Off in the distance, a twig, the syphilitic finger of Baudelaire pointing towards any number of vague symbols — his spleen? the soul? an invitation to Pigalle? It’s a mystery.
2. Trailing down in an upside-down V — le Tour Eiffel.
3. Another V, cruising the boulevard above the Seine, corruptible and veering into the flames — Verlaine.
4. Rimbaud was here, on a bender laced with absinthe. After the deluge, he rolled in it then set it on fire, not the other way around.
5. Smudge, knuckle, vulva, miniature teddy bear.
6. Ghost-wizzle, or, the poem as echo.
7. Negative lightning bolt with a Stygian kink breaches the cracks like overflow from the underworld Metro. Bank left or right?
8. Double-squirt. A throw of the dice will never abolish a hazard.
9. Thin black line — another leak, another tributary of the Styx.
10. The most common piddle, a grey puddle to reflect the drizzling sky. Listen to it rain while regret and disdain weep an ancient music.
11. Lightning strikes twice — grey ghost, haunting. Listen to the fall of all the perpendiculars of your existence.
12. Tiny brown elephant head, long thin trunk.
13. Slodge. Shit. Rubbing it in.
14. This one, cornered by the wind, goes wee wee wee all the way down trodden steps to the water’s edge.
15. The River Seine, drunken, dirty, and gushing. Le bateau, frail as a moth, sailing three white sheets to the wind and a little to the left beneath the leers of Pont Neuf and Pont de Sully, steeped in the languors of the swell.
Note: this poem takes some liberties with the translation (or expulsion) of certain lines from Rimbaud’s ‘Le Bateau Ivre’, Mallarmé’s ‘Un Coup de Dés’, and Apollinaire’s ‘Il Pleut’.