• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 12
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Mal Aria

Season of grist and yellowing decay
thus close death comes to nature
        even as unpicked grapes rot on the vine
        but hardly infer a rhyme for wine
        and I should decline it too

and yet the apothecary sinks deeper in doom
I speak now of Keats and tremulous TB
        the dread that makes him think
        of the Southern beaker and the drink
        that embosoms the fatal fall

from that great tree (of life some say)
a chestnut or merely a cliche:
        but blood dripping from the barber's pole
        does nothing for the fading metropole
        and soon he shrinks from sight

and still the thought remains of fruitfulness
the poem as palimpsest fills the air
        even the mal aria, a death in Venice
        where we might play some tennis
        but after the fall and not with Dennis.