Tuesday, March 3, 1998

LEAVING CASABLANCA


LEAVING CASABLANCA
                 With thanks to W.C.W. & to Bogey, of course.
                For Neil. The play’s the thing!

1. This is just to say that on leaving
Casablanca with bags and baggage packed—
everything in black and white—I was
a wounded child: an angry rain of bullets
tracking me, words gunning me down
the runway; I was too ashamed to open-
ly bleed beneath the lights. Fearing
the sniper, exile and abandonment,
I sought asylum in the shadowlands
because at Casablanca, I couldn’t see
to speak in a foreign tongue, nor sink
my eyeteeth into equivocal languages.

I mistook the lover for the sniper;
couldn’t see the hostage within.

2.  Now, the woman is ready to bite
the bullet, board the next plane,
soulcage in hand, but needs a visa,
permission to land, for another chance
to round up the usual samskaras,
hoping Bogey’ll recite the right lines.
But she’s never been to the City of Light.
How’ll she play a part she doesn’t know?
A requiem of gray stones in her mouth.
As time goes by, she finds she, too,
doesn’t know the words to the song.
Instead of tickling ivories, they play it solo:

Forgive me. They were so sweet,
so silent, so cold…


3/3/98
in self-imposed exile in Forestville 

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