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Green Absinthe

For Joe Lelyveld and Janny Scott

’Twas brillig and as if I’d drunk
Green absinthe the night before.
The bed felt like an upper bunk
Ten miles above the bedroom floor.

Maybe it’s because I did,
Maybe it’s because I do
Drink a bathtub of poison gas each night and kid
Myself I’m still able to.

Hey, something is coming—what’s that glow?
It’s snow or rain, it’s spring.
It’s chemical weapons. It’s baseball spring training. Whoa!
Mariano Rivera throws a wicked cut fastball—a vicious, delicious thing!

Day after day of gray
For Obama in his second term,
And trying not to be poisoned by the horror in Syria today.
The apple is trying to digest the worm.

Bashar al-Assad (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
The dead about to lead him to his doom.

The dead in the streets gape and gasp.
The dead smell like chlorine.
Their dead nostrils tried to breathe the asp.
There’s a waitress at Café Luxembourg named Maureen.

Maureen, your eyes are green.
Your parents crossbred Ireland with Russia.
The bloody blarney of the Troubles, ’tis obscene, Maureen,
And the Kremlin percussionists, if they can, they’ll crush ya.

Yeats walked on the moon and spent the night there.
Back on earth, found his rhetoric and politics and splendor and rage.
Soviet Mandelstam rose like Christ from the nightmare,
Rises from the gulag, sunrise on the page.

Something is coming more than we know how.
More than we know how. An asteroid. Soon.
A world-destroying future is exploding toward us now.
Yangon hurtles toward Rangoon.

Maureen, I think I’d better order while one still can!
I’d like the Syria tartare, please, to start.
Then tender baby baboon from the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Picking a dessert is the hard part.

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