Roger Fanning

Baudelaire's Ablutions

Baudelaire, dead broke, nonetheless allowed himself
two hours for his morning ablutions.
(Warm water can be a narcotic too.)
His razor scraping whiskers cleanly off
sounded like a file rassrasping
against prison bars. Never did this man
gulp a cup of coffee, bolt out the door
with a blob of shaving cream on one ear,
and go to a job. He composed himself.
Dead broke, he explored (in prose) six waterdrops
that quake in a corner of Delacroix's painting
Dante and Virgil! Meanwhile, through his window
intruded softly the spiel of a fishmonger
as well as the stench. Many, many vendors still
singsong their wares, as a sort of wishwash drizzle
inducing human animals to mope, to yawn.
We all get bored: between mainstream culture (buy things)
and nature (in this case, rain), people tend to snooze.
Poetry jolts awake the lucky few. I praise
the mirror-gazing mighty poet Baudelaire,
my hero, a fop full of compulsions,
a perfectionist to whom a single
tweezered nosehair brought tears of joy.
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