Opera Bouffe

By Philip Gross Philip Gross
The count of cappuccino,
the marquise of meringue,
all the little cantuccini...
and what was the song they sang?

Oh, the best of us is nothing   
but a sweetening of the air,   
a tryst between the teeth and tongue:
we meet and no one’s there   

though the café’s always crowded   
as society arrives
and light glints to and fro between   
the eyes and rings and knives.

We’ll slip away together,   
perfect ghosts of appetite,   
the balancing of ash on fire
and whim—the mating flight

of amaretti papers,   
my petite montgolfiere,   
our lit cage rising weightless   
up the lift shaft of the air.   

So the count of cappuccino,
the marquise of not much more,
consumed each other’s hunger.
Then the crash. And then the war.

Source: Poetry (February 2006).


This poem originally appeared in the February 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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February 2006
 Philip  Gross


Philip Gross lives in Bristol, England and teaches creative writing part-time at Bath Spa University College. He won the National Poetry Competition in 1982 and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 1998. A number of his seven collections of poetry, including The Wasting Game (Bloodaxe),  have been recommended by the Poetry Book Society.

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Poems by Philip Gross

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT History & Politics, Love, Social Commentaries, Humor & Satire, Class, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Realistic & Complicated


Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Ballad, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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