(after Marcel Duchamp)

This long-beaked,
one-legged, bird-like
bottle keeps a kind of wine
in it, a thoughtful weeping,

of good spirits
nevertheless since aerial
beyond all sense. A man must
tote to a new country

what he can to remind
him, when dreariness sets in,
of where he’s been. Open it
and, as a whiff escapes,

slowly, if a thirsty
drinking, breathe it in;
the way a burly summer
turns to light and sweet,

neatly accurate
upon the tongue, inside
a ripened grape, the very
song it, forging, seems

inspired by.
So now, when breathing’s
knife-like for the ice
within the air, drawing

big, abrasive tears,
this vial will let out
Paris, mild yet sprightly
presence bent to oversee

Luxembourgean strolls,
a feeling that drew paints
to it like greedy pigeons
as they gaped to be

so gathered, so arranged
that they were flying, they
were soaring without wings,
were uttered, utterly,

without a tongue, an air
that goes on breathing
long after its original
has turned to other things.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 5 Number 2, on page 45
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