Poem by Harry Bauld

August 15, 2023

Welcome to Purgatory

A young man white with late summer profanity pealed
against you. He was/is you. You never knew his heart

that swung and missed on the devil’s slider, his divinity
a flower of your absence, a muddle one part

amplitude, one part ember, surrendered to the body
you were destined for—this one. Hell is the lost art

of youth, lone tunnel at the sooty bottom
of your dotage. Boo hoo, baby.

You will grow even older in your dreary lane,
stuck in your logorrhea behind bagel trucks

and orthodox women. How about this
for hope: you might flourish

without the moon and its polished nickel face
you spurn, laughing while it stirs

more ignorance and moans, ash and bills piled high
as the pines above but the worse for them. Or?

You can’t mean or measure the taste of fire
that streams under this sun. We were all young

once, submarine, tempered under pressure
and wheeling down the world’s deepest trenches.

And now? Banished to blooming fissure
where the stony sky simmers among the spheres.

This flying world. This planet of burning dulcet ichor.

About Harry Bauld

Harry Bauld, author of The Uncorrected Eye (Passager) and How to Paint a Dead Man (Finishing Line), included by Matthew Dickman in Best New Poets 2012 (UVa Press), has performed in NY and elsewhere as a magician and jazz pianist.