Friday, June 19, 2009

gospel of my muse


Auden sang the gospel of his Muse
to fundamentalist and nun,
but though my chosen people are the Jews
my gospel is for everyone.
In my milieu I don’t pontificate,
but on the light fantastic trip,
yet serious problems never underrate
when audenly I wield a whip
that gives tongue-lashings, fire in my belly
as hot as mustard on pastrami
that’s served with cole slaw in a kosher deli.
The messages embalmed are balmy
because of rhymes that reassure the reader
that in the universe there’s order,
equilibrating, like obsessive meter,
the chaos threatening the border,
between my universe and sanity,
while I in LA, no pelagian,
attempt to hold my ground, and with urbanity
sing what most readers can’t imagine.

Inspired by W.H. Auden’s poem “On the Circuit”:

Among pelagian travelers,
Lost on their lewd conceited way
To Massachusetts, Michigan,
Miami or L.A.,

An airborne instrument I sit,
Predestined nightly to fulfill
Unfathomable will,

By whose election justified,
I bring my gospel of the Muse
To fundamentalists, to nuns,
to Gentiles and to Jews,

And daily, seven days a week,
Before a local sense has jelled,
From talking-site to talking-site
Am jet-or-prop-propelled.

Though warm my welcome everywhere,
I shift so frequently, so fast,
I cannot now say where I was
The evening before last,

Unless some singular event
Should intervene to save the place,
A truly asinine remark,
A soul-bewitching face,

Or blessed encounter, full of joy,
Unscheduled on the Giesen Plan,
With, here, an addict of Tolkien,
There, a Charles Williams fan.

Since Merit but a dunghill is,
I mount the rostrum unafraid:
Indeed, 'twere damnable to ask
If I am overpaid.

Spirit is willing to repeat
Without a qualm the same old talk,
But Flesh is homesick for our snug
Apartment in New York.

A sulky fifty-six, he finds
A change of mealtime utter hell,
Grown far too crotchety to like
A luxury hotel.

The Bible is a goodly book
I always can peruse with zest,
But really cannot say the same
For Hilton's Be My Guest.

Nor bear with equanimity
The radio in students' cars,
Muzak at breakfast, or--dear God!--
Girl-organists in bars.

Then, worst of all, the anxious thought,
Each time my plane begins to sink
And the No Smoking sign comes on:
What will there be to drink?

Is this my milieu where I must
How grahamgreeneish! How infra dig!
Snatch from the bottle in my bag
An analeptic swig?

Another morning comes: I see,
Dwindling below me on the plane,
The roofs of one more audience
I shall not see again.

God bless the lot of them, although
I don't remember which was which:
God bless the U.S.A., so large,
So friendly, and so rich.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 6/18/09

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