Spleen (III)

for Nicholas Moore 

I am like the king of a rainy kingdom,
rich but weak, young yet very old,
who, with perceptions piqued by marigolds,
bores myself with dogs and craps.
Nothing makes me gladder, gentler, more prone to falconry
than my dying people, their faces full on balconies.
“My Favorite Baboon,” the grotesque ballad,
does not distress me any longer with cruel sickness;
my bed flowers and transforms as it falls:
the tourist women, for whom every prince is handsome,
no longer know how to sit for their impudent toilette,
but pull a face instead and squeal.
The knowledge which made gold never tried
with such luck to inform the corrupt element,
catalyst for the bloodbaths of the Romans.
Like the king, I do not remember the days of old,
I do not relight my habitual cigar,
and my blood cools from too much rain.

—Translated from French by Jeffrey Croteau