Three Poems

By the Table

“Je suis l'Empire à la fin de la décadence”
—Paul Verlaine

Around Rimbaud the poets criticize
painting. The diabolic company

a tribute to one literary Paul
Verlaine seated left of Mr. Rimbaud

For whom the flowers died and others left
with proportions missing particulars

Baudelaire, Mérat, Parnassus poets
in a painting that the Louvre replaced

It was criticized, this too-big canvas
this particular oil, the dressed-up group

seated next to Mr. Reputedly
Mr. Ambitious 1872

Fantin-Latour gave the irritating
table to Blémont who sold the painting

The Lamp

How in my life, a labyrinth and women, early 30s.
Classical order: our tears pool like bitters in an empty glass.
The genie in my mirror is ugly-crying, his heart a beefy thicket.
His succor is a magic lamp in which the excrement settles.
Me, rubbing the lamp: “Parker, the writing’s not that serious.”
Impression of myself as both a victim and destroyer of fables
Bachelard’s little bird, we listen close for the rattle of pill bottles.
Faithful, disarmed, and haunting Mount Etna, struggling to be free
from my viewpoint, Mr. Bigshot Philanthropist forgot the honeystick.
Pennies got glued to my pocket, drag his rigid body to our den.
We felt tonally threatened by the faces in the office courtyard.
Gone incognito, manipulating the arms of an articulated doll.
Still working with her hands: “Who’s the marionette?”
I listen for the hint of a death rattle in our houseguest’s throat.
Agoraphobic, humanoid lady, pacing the prefab shed.
How in her life, the cause of death was predicate plus temptation.

Double Comma

Red rhododendrons, the topsoil obeying its impulse, to scat

Ludicrous fanfare, they’re so famous, one knee a fabular limit

Speak more to mobility, purpose postponed, the scarlet superego hacks

The poker of dream speech, it’s me the absinthe, still delusional &c.

Silly south side of your morning sunshine, background refresh, tears

sledding downhill, a season beating down your door, better to postpone

Disjunctive, pinpricks for Buddha, him seated in a wound stretching

The dancers wait, the English the, has godhead cussed out novelette

Museums are about to close, horseleg desire, cutting in and out

For making whoopee, kick-ball-change, rise for ceremonial speech

“Begonia bougainvillea, impatiens lobelia crawling opium, poppies

Geranium he lived, baby-boy syndrome, he glues the wound shut.”

Underworld stiff, too warped for bed, I lay my buckler down at last

Between the commas, arbor its buxom, grievous repose Spongebob

Jigs in your heart, with swinging girls, young prince become the frog

Parker Menzimer is a poet, editor, and teacher. He is the author of the chapbook The Links published by 1080press in 2022. He works as Public Programs Manager at the Poetry Society of America, an adjunct lecturer in the Department of English at Brooklyn College, and an editor of Topos Press. Born in the California Bay Area, he has lived and worked in New York since 2009.