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Roots & Branches Series
La Belle Dame
Gordon Osing & Tom Carlson
ISBN 978-1-881471-00-4 $20.00 64 pages
Montmartre’s nights, we are god’s comedians
in a world neither his nor mine,
his the seigneur’s, mine the siren clown’s
for a top hat or a silver tipped cane.
Ours is the cracked mirror of a girl’s conscience.
They want to be backstage chevaliers,
whose women find them utterly worldly;
we don costumes made of their desires,
ancient statues, birds of paradise, sacred stories,
always a thick splash of all but decency,
to suggest they are drawn to a mystery,
to shadows and light in our eyes needing
their dominion. And what is shown more than
in our bodies Heaven lies.
In the middle of the night sometimes
I see my white body stretched out, awake,
and try to think of it as a piece of the moon.
Why am I his city and he numbers my ecstasies?
And what is desire without knowing laughter?
Gordon Osing is retired from the writing program at the University of Memphis and lives now lakeside in Delta bluffs woods in Eudora, Mississippi, where he is continuing his career in reading and writing and traveling. The River City Writers Series, that he began some thirty-five years ago at the University of Memphis, is still thriving. He sees himself in a continuation of the works of the Southern Modernists, holding language in poetry as re-contextualized, and the poem as artifact with its own protocols and reasons, the ways and means of a poem’s attachments to “truth” belonging peculiarly to poetry.
Tom Carlson taught American literature and creative nonfiction at the University of Memphis for thirty-two years. He has published extensively on Melville, Poe, eastern European poetry, and American popular culture.