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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Variation On Roman - Woodie Sinclair Stephenson


after Rimbaud
We're way too serious when we're twenty-three
- one dark evening, to hell with dinner and picture shows,
Well-lit restaurants and crowded hipster bars.
We binge drink on the steps of cluttered Montrose apartments

The floors are sticky in the humid June afternoons!
At times the room is so smoky that our eyes water.
The walls rattle with sounds – the drag isn't far –
Having the stench of burnt tires and dumpster bilge.

There you can see sad old brick walls
Of dull shades, smeared with indecipherable streaks,
Tagged up by a graffiti artist, that melt
In heavy rusto drips, broad and semi-gloss black…

Night in June! Twenty-three years old! -we grow effete with it all.
The stench becomes 100 proof and goes to our head…
We listened aloof and feel a hand between our legs
Rolling on our backs like an old dog….

Our tired heart moves through ballads by Tom Waits,
When, under the awning of a metro bus-stop,
A street girl goes by forlorn and dolorous
Under the shadow of her pimp's terrible trench coat…

And she finds you dauntlessly impudent,
While clacking her soiled platform shoes,
She turns sluggishly and in a diffident manner…
- much later the cavatinas swell in your lips…

You are in desolation. You are apoplectic until the month of April.
You are desolate - Your sonnets all fall flat.
You find unity in desolation, you are its progenitor.
- then one dawn the girl you despised deigned to call you.

That evening, … you return to the fancy cafés,
You ask for martinis or espresso…
We're way too serious when we're twenty-three
And when we have drinking spells in wretched places.

Woodie Sinclair Stephenson, a current Ruth Lilly Fellowship nominee, is a poet and musician native to Houston, TX. His poetry and prose have been published in Free Press Houston, Torrid Zone, Curbside Review, The Panhandler Quarterly, Blackball, Bayou Review, Asphyxia Digest, and Writer's Hood. His work has also been featured on KPFT's Living Art, and Earthwire Radio's Poetry In Reverse. As a passion, he has dedicated time, energy, and space to the art of poetry publishing Asphyxia Digest, editing Bayou Review, running a bi-weekly poetry column with Free Press, and hosting a variety cable show, TV Party Tonight.