Up and Down the Stairs He Chased Her

Whatsoever I did in the coal-
Black night, I left my quivering prints.

Dylan Thomas

Up and down the stairs he chased her,
Curling her monkish husband's hair
With his fatuous laughter,
Wheezing his black brandy lust
To the rambling mansion's egg-and-dart,
Dragging his wagging bug-eyed braggart
Tongue through a randy rut. (All
While the baseball game played on,
The armchair cuckold clucked,
Not at the thought that his love, alas,
Might tumble from the prance,
But that she, alas, might not
Before his scrabble for the score,
The random hits, the strikes, the balls,
The blasted outs, the bloody inning
Drove him bats! Full-blown,
He rode The White Horse high, a cock,
And crow he did before the codger
Bottle-conked his jolly nob,
Wigwagging the black-and-white
Checkerboard floor, rocking in his chair
Like a sailor half-seas over,
Scuttling dip-tipsy schooners laced
With sudsy bellows, the spindrift air
Spun thick with rough draft verses,
Words to make a windbag bishop
Cringe like curdled milk,
Shrieking split-reed skirls to pierce
The devil's ear. Apple-cheeked,
He bellowed in from Bleeker Street,
Birthday-bountiful, boisterous,
Bundling tales like star-tipped sticks,
Each nocked to a taut bowstring and shot
With a nod to the rabble-rowdy crowd,
A toast to the black shoes
Shining the brass rail bright,
A salt tear for the nights of old
When all the glowworms rose moon-mad,
As in a trance, to splash his treasure
Gold and ruby-red, before the coal-
Black demon birds besieged the dying light
To peck his eyes out, eat his mealy brain.

First published in Calapooya Collage, reprinted in my chapbook, The Wild Bunch.