We had decided with Cocteau

the difference between a cigarette holder
    and cigarette case,
the pleasure of a lorgnette over spectacles,
    of a fortnight over
two weeks, of a spiral over graduated stairs,
    of the frisson of crying
like pouty boys, and of the way to walk a lobster
    on a leash: drag it,
its exoskeleton rapping on the cobbles
    through the rabble
of Montparnasse, as if lugging luggage.
    We did what could not
gain us a week of rent or even a plate of fish,
    yet we managed to eat
sickening amounts, to hate on our patroness,
    the Princess de Polignac,
though, and I am sorry, she had bought us wine.
    Once, in the chamber
before an evening concert, I hid a sack of bees
    in the white baby grand,
and when ball-gowned Polignac raised the leaf
    they swarmed through the strings
to the chandelier and the Princess saw a living sun
    and felt a little less dreary
and a little less proud of being bored.

More Poems by Christopher Shannon