The Rake packs up his troubles in an old kit-bag and smiles, smiles, smiles
Holding things, I found, was holding me
up. So nowadays I’m mostly empty-
handed, bearing nothing but the stitched
shoulder strap to this, my dashing hell-
for-leather holdall — the mark of a life spent
all over. These last few years or so, I’ve gathered
nothing that would make it stretch or crack.
Nothing. That’s what made it stretch and crack
all over: these last few years. Or so I’ve gathered,
for leather holds all the marks of a life spent
with shoulders strapped to this, my dashing hell.
Hunted, baring nothing, I’ve been stitched
up so nowadays I’m mostly empty,
holding things I found were holding me.
The Rake invites you to the weepies
Don’t be lugubrious, my newest friend.
Bite lugubrious. Roll it around,
and roll around in it. Take a dive
in its lubricious, bleak lagoon, lukewarm
and wallowsome. Drink deep and swoon. The salt
will lift you like a vast and sudden futon,
a waterbed, luxurious and soft
and overfed, the kind they advertise
in why-oh-widescreen at the multiplex.
The eyeless ushers mutter unless unless
Shush. The trailers are my favourite bit.
It’s dark in here. Can you remember where
we wandered in from? Good. Forget about it
while I brush this popcorn from your hair.
The Rake’s apology
Darling, let me lay it at your feet,
blinking and soft, a helpless little wolfcub
huddled inside a gingham picnic-basket
on a cold night, on your doorstep, the fog
a clean slate, no sign of the coming flurry,
the never-ending blizzard. Do not worry.
Though it may break things, let it be your dog.
Snowed in, you’ll feed it steak tartare and brisket,
its licked-clean bowl the colour of false love,
of the ice outside the window, of its teeth.