To Djuna Barnes, on Nightwood (appeared in The Threepenny Review)
At last I see your aesthetic quarry:
to trump the flood of lewd words O’Connor’s
watery-grave mouth leaks, after horrors
we spawn as if the state were our glory.
I see how Nora’s fealty is treason.
I see how Robin bowing to the dog
in the last hours of the blunt monologue
evokes the return of the dead season.
Djuna, are you vanquished, do you now laugh?
Women have chosen swords over deaf words,
dictators have unpaid armies for staff,
Guido the idiot self we kill in thirds.
They read you then as warbler of passion.
They thought you a fad, a passing fashion.