Kenneth Rexroth


I am constantly wounded 
By the deadly gossip that adds 
Insult to injury, that 
Punishes me mercilessly 
With the news of your latest 
Scandal in my ears. Wherever 
I go the smirking fame of each 
Fresh despicable infamy 
Has run on ahead of me. 
Can’t you learn to be cautious 
About your lecheries? 
Hide your practices in darkness; 
Keep away from raised eyebrows. 
If you must murder love, do it 
Covertly, with your candied 
Prurience and murmured lewdness. 

You were never the heroine 
Of dirty stories in the days 
When love bound us together. 
Now those links are broken, desire 
Is frozen, and you are free 
To indulge every morbid lust, 
And filthy jokes about your 
Latest amour are the delight 
Of every cocktail party. 
Your boudoir is a brothel; 
Your salon is a saloon; 
Even your sensibilities 
And your depraved innocence 
Are only special premiums, 
Rewards of a shameful commerce. 

O the heart breaking memory 
Of days like flowers, and your 
Eyes that shone like Venus the star 
In our brief nights, and the soft bird 
Flight of your love about me; 
And now your eyes are as bitter 
As a rattlesnake’s dead eyes, 
And your disdain as malignant. 
Those who give off the smell of coin 
You warm in bed; I who have 
Love to bring am not even 
Allowed to speak to you now. 
You receive charlatans and fools; 
I have only the swindling 
Memory of poisoned honey.