Two Songs for Samson
(an invective poem)
for Carl Solomon
Where goes your nose, Old Sam?
How mighty a germ that nestled there
Could cause so mighty a blow?
Does a note so dissonant exist
To chip your granite ear?
Are there sights such horrors hold
To pluck your baby-blues, their sockets cold?
From butcher shops I bring calves’ liver
To cook in your hot white hand.
To tempt your mouth, I may stand closer;
Not too close.
These things I do, old man, for the tender satyrs
Who danced before you and bathed naked in your pool,
Whose sweet high voices brought gods in stealth
Luring angels to heavenly choirs.
For you I will sing two songs;
Songs for your beauty, your boring charm;
The gentle hand that carved the baby lamb
Of its golden fleece.
Your sleeping-stone and green copper cup,
Do they still exist?
Can anyone use them?
As well as you’ve used me?
And your flag, oh, your flag; your face
Caboshed in heraldry, animated and cachinnating
Till that arrogant spear struck you down.
All I hear is silence;
The note of copper against stone;
Spearhead against stone;
Silk against armor.
A bilious burst shackles your perfume
To all who remember;
All who want;
All who would forgive.
I wrote this utterly fictitious “invective poem” for Carl Solomon (1928-1993). Remember his Mishaps, Perhaps (1966) and More Mishaps (1968)? I visited Carl, one afternoon, while he was living in The Bronx in New York City. Carl’s situation, there, seemed to be that he was taking care of two elderly and ailing relatives, and the apartment smelled like hospital. It was a big, old apartment with few pieces of furniture. The two were in their bedsteads, one in what would have been the living room and the other in what would have been the dining room. I had to pass through the apartment to get to Carl’s bedroom, where he sat me on a chair and he sat on the bed. He thought I came there to grill him with questions about Allen Ginsberg, but no, like I told him on the phone it was to talk about his books, Mishaps, Perhaps and More Mishaps. And we did. And he signed my copies. And he gave me a copy of the two published together in a French edition, and he signed that for me as well. In the months that followed we shared some letters and postcards (his were all written in pencil). Going to see Carl, and wanting to sense him in person, I had a question in my mind, and that question also included Artaud and Jones Very and Christopher Smart. My sense of him, then, and now, still, was that he was just worn out (and had been, for a long time).