Horace: Late Night Ode

Late Night Ode

It’s over, love. Look at me pushing fifty now,
        Hair like grave-grass growing in both ears,
The piles and boggy prostate, the crooked penis,
        The sour taste of each day’s first lie,

And that recurrent dream of years ago pulling
        A swaying bead-chain of moonlight,
Of slipping between the cool sheets of dark
        along a body like my own, but blameless.

What good’s my cut-glass conversation now,
        Now I’m so effortlessly vulgar and sad?
You get from life what you can shake from it?
        for me, it’s g and t’s all day and CNN.

Try the blond boychick lawyer, entry level
        At eighty grand , who pouts about the overtime,
Keeps Evian and a beeper in his locker at the gym,
        And hash in tinfoil under the office fern.

There’s your hound from heaven , with buccaneer
        Curls and perfumed war-paint on his nipples.
His answering machine always has room for one more
        Slurred, embarrassed call from you-know-who.

Some nights I’ve laughed so hard the tears
        won’t stop. Look at me now. Why now?
I long ago gave up pretending to believe
        Anyone’s memory will give as good as it gets.

So why these stubborn tears? and why do I dream
        Almost every night of holding you again,
Or at least of diving after you, my long-gone,
        Through the bruised unbalanced waves.

Translated by J.D. McClatchy

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