Poem – Vincent O’Sullivan

The Retired Bruiser dreaming La Belle Dame at the least


Whenever he saw “I could be happy here” appear
across a bedroom wall like words blazoned
on a banner by a man in glinting metal,
on a horse too big for the average castle
door, he knew it was time, time to move on.

He loved the chance of romance until the chances
came. His lips pressed at the double-weave at the top
of stockings of the kind still seen in Bogart movies
and the lavender waft of flesh drove his tongue
to canciones – what next day he called simply

songs, with inordinate crescendos. Mornings
offered nothing new, evenings ambled starlight
in so many languages how was one to choose,
and all they led to, trumpets shimmering
the bullring? (His images à point if scarcely couth.)

This is about a man who seldom moves from
his chair at a café window yet Bliss caracoles
to his glance. He stirs his coffee, a skyline of turrets
falls. His folding a napkin tremors a kingdom.
The tap of his finger on a sauce bottle signals

tempest in the tangle of heart’s boisterous domains –
stand back, how he’s fiddling matches like lances
at San Romano. He imagines her watching, see,
from such high espyal, love loading her tongue.
How he works for her at the hems of tall romance.

It’s a dull world you might say without fancy metrics,
without daubed stucco ceilings, intricate devices.
All there at the flick of a switch you might also say,
the incandescent ordinary, the epiphanied fuck-all –
his nose next to the canvas, talked up between rounds.


Vincent O’Sullivan

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