He was holding forth in Bada-Bing,
In this year of the Yellow Death,
erotically deviant, hilariously scandalous.
I’d read those scattered fragments
of the satirist, Petronius,
knew drollery, outrageous acts
of lewdness, were his thing,
and scorn for solemn moralists
until his final breath.
There’s a rash of visitations,
from people doubtless dead
…..Into my dreams.
It’s the plague year, most confirmedly,
and in such times, it seems,
a mind most fears
the onset of infirmity and
sheds forgotten fellowships and phantoms;
acts out those conversations never said;
sins yet untried, and outlawry unransomed.
A lust for pleasure burgeons
in these miasmas of dread.
As fumes of illegality laced air in the locality,
he caressed a fair companion of ambiguous sexuality.
Clearly, fruits of their society were coming to a head…
This keystone fragment I stole from ruins…
So, let’s raise a glass or two, he said
and scoff at turgid life;
prefer a brace of strumpets
to some temple-tethered wife,
and chart our decadent decline
with most audacious style and wit,
for scrofulous tyrants weigh our life
and roll dice for the price of it.
Now poetry and art are bonfires,
blazing by the river, where critics of the emperor
sink, disembowelled, together.
Reverberating rapper bars pump
fantasy and gangsta-chic but
Apuleius’ Golden Ass is all the fiction that I seek.
Lust and folly, like some Pompei meth-house, under ash,
are my worlds to immortalise, with cynical panache.
A death sentence hangs over us, by majesty decreed.
I took the knife to my own life;
hot ladyboys and harlots come, and watch my genius bleed.