The Muse’s Uncle Comes To Stay (Muse #12)

His face is embossed
with logic; he believes that poetry
is like pulling teeth,
that its practitioners are utter scuzz.

She feeds him tea and bourbon biscuits
from a willow tray.
He nods an acknowledgement.

In the early evening,
he rants at the muse’s mirror,
spitting words like pips. His face
is salsa. His tongue thrashes
like a hooked mackerel.
When he falls asleep
(as he does, at eight-thirty) the steam
curdles in his ears.

What should the muse
do, caught between
her uncle’s tumble-turvy disgust
and the platitudinous faxes
of her poet?

She has no choice. At night,
with her uncle snoring in his horse-box,
and her poet bleating on
the answer-phone in the box in the attic,
she knits a holiday
out of coconut hair.

The sun is pink. The sand stretches
like velveteen. Bartenders
tend her. She naps
under the pimento umbrella
lent her by
a frog prince with a dry stash
of cash, and a convertible.
Her uncle implodes
in her cottage, leaving only
a tobacco-stained shadow
and some remnants of rage.

The poet frets,
stumping his new set of pencils.

The muse takes a speedboat to an island
where embroidered cockatoos
chat
until rackety sunrise.

April 2005

From the book New Poems