Ben Mazer

Une Chienne Masonique dans la grande lavatoire oceanographique


Orthopedic skulls
align the firmament
where stripped of their Catullus
each closed apartment
exchanges moods for time,
the individual sublime,
and heeds no call to duty
beyond rescension’s beauty.
Accommodations high
beneath a battered sky
alight with floodlit filth
partake of stellar stealth
and freeze no Hermides
to silences that please
the mother Pere Couchon
but steadily roll on
to thrust accordions
of tridents into dawns,
covert from prying eyes,
the little soul that dies.
Sense cannot regulate
the Platt or river Plate,
industrious and dim,
perched on the edgemost rim
of pleas to abrogate
the pity of sister Kate.
Why should they so abscond,
as if their progress were
replete of all the monde,
all others to aver?
Consigned each to their time,
the annals strict compile
the manner of the house,
the excellence of rhyme
each sequel may defile
according to his mouse,
supportive of the pile
of repetitious crime,
then folded into dawn
awake death to move on.



                  for Philip Horton

My capital is cultural capital.
But we were young then. The sausages
were plump, and the balconies ripe.
Pressed into service, the elevators
took us to silences without appeal;
you loved one first, then the other.
Tributes to Charleville and Douai
pall on the cheap and bitter tongues
of another generation, west to east.
The wind has abscond with picnics.
I look into the pelted sky
and wonder if we did arrive,
or if the march, the liberated city,
sank seven wonders in its pity.
I have no need to hear from friends.
These ends, too meagre to recall,
revive an aolanthus desperate for the spring
to release joy in the defended city.
Climb into bed, and feel the cold hands fall
to sleep a negro witch burns, steady call
and trumpet of headlights glimmering on the wall.
Until winter I shall have no need to wake,
but hibernate, these letters to partake
of frozen sands, sands frozen, done with switching
the kings of France; monsieur, je desole.


* * *

My war wounds are a solace to me now.
May turns the fleur-de-lis, a change of valise
that comes to Paris in the spring. I am
the diplomat my fathers were before me.
I carry no fake Bottom in my trousers,
but by degrees stare down the eyes of mausers
trained on the moon, the eyes of pyramids.
The firefly in August turns and flits,
the bowser sits, an aged woman shits
into her coffee. I eat my toffee
and read La Monde. I can’t recall how fond
I may have been in youth. I am no hero.
I am still betting
that time will show me in my proper setting,
long past these fevers, and these bouts of gout,
that turn me inwards, when my secret’s out.

                  Paris Feb. 28 – March 2, 2014



It isn’t really right
No, it really isn’t fair
To compress and circumnavigate the night
To an image and a square
As still and motionless
As your just being there
And the circles should protest
That the light by which you’re dressed
That the roundness of a sentence has expressed
That oblivion should be put to the test
Of other words used somewhere else
As if the clock at midnight up and tells
Of someone else
Of something else
And why behind its wings should the world hide
The sense of something it has held inside
And parting thus from all your memories
Still find your image here though ill at ease
Were there nothing to regret
Were the midnight newly met
And glowing grids stacked to eternity
Were all you see
This sense of someone else’s sense of things
Dissipates and clings
To the silence that the hour brings
That’s what we do
To make the hour new
And certainly not what we expect
But how then to inspect
The ethereal architect
Who clamours in the rose and gold
Of things when we are neither young nor old
Or to detect
The character of midnight when it fold
Into a map or set of chinese boxes
That have no say
In any increment of the world’s way
So inconceivable it stands aloof
From the patter of the rain upon the roof
As idle as if one compelling truth
Were all we prayed for
Were all we stayed for
Shall I pass this to your hand
And receive the reprimand
Of one who came for
Of one who stayed for
The silence of the latching of a door
Or is there more
These meditations shake me to the core.

* * *

And the winter is so cold
The wind whips rain into a world that’s old
And nothing stays
Beyond the worry and the strain of days
That end these ways
Accommodate some postulated stranger
To fortify the mind
That’s left so much behind
And yet you’ll find
That what is left can be distilled and strained
And left upon some lit but empty altar
Not yet to falter
But with resolve to seek and find
I’ve nothing in my mind
And cannot alter
The necessary change that you will find
Compels the world to which it is aligned
Folded, sealed and stamped and duly signed
By the serious exchequer
Of which we both concur
Merely to have passed the time
Severely to have made a rhyme
As savage as the midnight to a mime
Goes in repose
Out of all the gestures that he knows
And fixing there
A circle in the glowing of a square
No, it really isn’t fair

BEN MAZER’s recent collections of poems include Poems and New Poems (both Pen & Anvil Press). His critical edition of the Collected Poems of John Crowe Ransom is forthcoming from Un-Gyve Press.