Twilight agitates the insane,
says Baudelaire. I conclude
I'm insane because the winter
twilight shudders through me like
the onset of flu. My checkbook,
as I attempt to balance it,
flutters on bat-wings and settles
in a potted plant. A glass of wine
trembles and slops over, bleeding
censorious tannins. The crimes
listed in the local police log
apply themselves to me like
nicotine patches. Wandering
from room to room I deploy
my last surviving brain cells
the way the Japanese deployed
their troops at Iwo Jima.
Baudelaire, the sanest of men,
recognized madness in others
and neither admired nor deplored it.
The years between us telescope
until I'm eye to eye with him,
the famous glower and tall forehead
monumental as the Dakotas.
I'd ask him why Paris caught
like a fishbone in his throat but
I don't know the French for fishbone.
Like the wine, he disperses
in a pool not of blood but oil
as black as the old velvet jacket
in which he prematurely buried
himself with honors. The twilight
collapses into that same black pool
so I lift the madness from my brow
like a rejected crown and toss it
clattering to the kitchen floor.