Monsieur Barbary Brecht
Who shall it fall upon to inspect
the comings and goings of Anthony Hecht?
The Cummings and Boeings, the strummings and knowings,
the summings and flowings of Anthony Hecht?
Maybe the Master, the shepherd and pastor,
the leopard, lean, faster,
that peppered forecaster,
the Phoenix and Castor, Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
Who will exhume the intelligent wanderings,
the diplomat, coup de tat, government squanderings,
and furious ponderings also that stem thereof,
and fonder things, of the late Howard Nemerov?
No one more furious, curious, serious,
sometimes delerious, always imperious,
mighty ambiguous, slightly conspicuous,
Jane Geoffrey Simpleton—Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
Who will expose as verbose the rich prose,
will deface and erase its slick surface with grace,
will unweave what he wove, and enclose what there flows,
of the flaws of the prose of Ernest Fellose?
No one more hounding, more pounding, more counting,
more hunting, or cunting, or brushed up with bunting,
than that master of everything Asians depict,
and the roots of all madness—Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
Actually what is it, I’m trying to say,
tomorrow, tonight, yesterday and today,
intangible, frangible, Monsieur John Mandeville,
irreversible, curseable, not nearly nurseable,
something appealing to Barbara Hutton,
I’m trying to turn myself off, but I can’t find the button.
I tell myself, you should be more circumspect,
for one who’s the houseguest of Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
General Walker inspired a stalker,
who hired John Pauker to be a big talker,
in Dallas with Alice, with much forethought malice,his background they checked and they checked and they checked.
And though it was hot, and he took a pot shot,
played his part to the hilt, revealed nothing of guilt,
even when questioned by George Mohrenschildt,
who had made him defect?—Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
There are two different kinds of fuck.
The fuck that’s fucked, and the fuck that’s fucked.
And in Algeria—last time I checked—
both were reserved for Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
Professor Pitkins had a real tight jaw.
Perhaps he even wore a metal bra.
But if he did the one who could detect
that this was so was Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
If you see W.H. Auden you might just have boughten
a diversion, a version, a red and dread sturgeon,
a false bill of goods, and you may have been tricked
by that master of everything which has been bricked,
the one they call mother—Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
But apart from this world, where the great winds are whirled,
and the towers are darkened, childs play
with primordial knowing of Hindoos and fairies
and Edmund St. Bury’s, and all that’s most out of the way—
they may dig holes to China, or reveal their vagina
(in the hall suits of armour compelling good karma)
but no matter how darkness betray
the extent of the world, or the word, they have trekked
through inversions of Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
The ghost in the wainscot is trembling and bludgeoned
and wrapped in a fox that is dry and curmudgeoned
but the thespian sheets fly aloft in the air
and although there is tea, there is nobody there.
There is no one to draw lines with pen and with ink,
or to stain with hair coloring half of the sink,
but the wrought iron is animated, and the architect
of this elaborate absence is Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
Try typing his name and you might go insane,
at the way the hands work towards each other and then
go in circles repeating again and againone insistent motif like a tom-tom refrain,
and then spiral upwards—an enigma machine
couldn’t do it the justice of how it is whacked
on a simple corona—Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
In the hall the rich children glare and they stare
at the poor little visitor who enters there,
his musical prodigy greater than theirs
sends them scuttling in snide little groups up the stairs.
But the hostess is compassionate and hands him a score,
but he just doesn’t feel up to play any more,
and wonders what lies behind the magnificent door
where the children all vanished, and his vision is flecked
by the shadowy mustache of Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
If I were a 1926 model Ford
I would carry your body and then I’d have poured
it over the bridge and into the river
without so much as the least tiny shiver.—
So the love letters of little girls run
but they never have ever so nearly much fun
as the brain that delights behind eyes that reflect
the abductions of Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
It is Christmas time and the world is still
and the windows like lenses of glass that are cracked
where the presents are stacked on the shelves do not kill
the spirit of our saviour who’s come from afar
for whom the child left the door slightly ajar
the deciduous rustle of Hyperborean pines
shuffles in the three wise men and the brilliant star shines
and no one, but no one could ever detect
the immaculate presence of Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
The spires of Mem Hall, and what’s trapped in the cat,
like the great North wind go this way and that,
and no matter how anyone’s ever detained
by a shivery feeling, a vague sense of what’s stained
by what came before us, or what’s not yet come,
there isn’t a formula for doing the sum,
yet all of your queries you might kindly direct
to the highly compassionate Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
The fire’s last flicker as it falls in the shadows
leaves all in the darkness of its afterglows.
The winter winds whistle, and somewhere a thistleis lodged in a crevice of snows.
the family’s together, and all will protect
the spirit of Christmas, and sing the great missal,
in the translation of Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
Behind every brick there’s a visual trick,
an encapturement that’s luminoso,
in the rain, in the brain, in the strain, in the wane
of enrapturement, tres furioso.
It’s a kind of a click, that may not or may stick,
and may trap what I meant, I suppose so.
Like back issues of old magazines might reflect
a spectrum of tissues—Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
Dante and Berryman, and Bernard Herriman!
All can be found here, can be seen in sound here!
It makes no difference what order, what corridor,
except as causation’s perceived as sensation,
no border can thwart or export or condense here
or give any quarter to the immense sense here
of Nemerov, Tamiroff, Bellow or Hecht—
all one, the domain of Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
So tell me, just how if they are indivisible
we need them. We seed them when they are invisible!
The order they cede to is perfectly cracked.
Call in the correctives—Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
The films of the forties, the great women’s films,
are baked on the surfaces of post boxes and kilns,
like the whisper of porcelain, the threads of empire,
that visit the sky and retire in a spire,
they expire in the senses, for one and for all,
one vast waiting ocean, the windows recall,
with curtains and windowseats holding hopes checked,
but nothing’s arrived today—Monsieur Barbary Brecht!
poem by Ben Mazer; published online with permission of the poet.