Opium Dream



“…I came suddenly upon such knotty problems of alleys, such enigmatical entries, and such sphynx’s riddles of streets without thoroughfares, as must, I conceive, baffle the audacity of porters and confound the intellects of hackney-coachmen.”


—Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater


The fog of alleyways, the plaza’s blur,
the sputter of motors, the propeller’s whirr,
the radio’s ballad fastening like a burr
or chip implanted by some saboteur
deep in the brain cells’ weave—all these concur
with each bribed captain, cabman, and chauffeur:
the paths of the labyrinth lead back to Her.


Signs in the lobby, verses of Les Fleurs
du mal
 (in all translations), the snarling of a cur
on a Vienna rooftop and the housecat’s purr
conspiring with the syntax of the chat-show chatterer—
all these confirm, as if you still weren’t sure:
the world’s covert communiqués refer
to one gigantic in-joke with the punchline Her.


Drown it in music, drown it in liqueur
or coffee, smoke whichever herbs deter
or grains diffuse the bad moon; let the dream recur—
bid shadows fall and walls begin to slur
and the strum strum strum of a compulsive dulcimer
pollute your ear canals till that last pure,
nontoxic, tonic chord rings out: brings





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