Androgyne, Mon Amour by Tennessee Williams

Poem first published in 'Androgyne, Mon Amour' in 1977.


Androgyne, mon amour,
brochette de coeur was plat du jour,
             (heart lifted on a metal skewer,
             encore saignante et palpitante)
where I dined au solitaire,
table intime, one rose vase,
             lighted dimly, wildly gay,
as, punctually, across the bay
mist advanced its pompe funèbre,
its coolly silvered drift of gray,
             nightly requiem performed for
mourners who have slipped away...

Well, that's it, the evening scene,
mon amour, Androgyne.

             Noontime youths,
thighs and groins tight-jean-displayed,
             loiter onto Union Square,
junkies flower-scattered there,
             lost in dream, torso-bare,
young as you, old as I, voicing soundlessly
a cry,
             oh, yes, among them
revolution bites its tongue beneath its fiery
             waiting stare,
indifferent to siren's wail,
ravishment endured in jail.
      Bicentennial salute?
Youth made flesh of crouching brute.

(Dichotomy can I deny of pity in a lustful eye?)


Androgyne, mon amour,
shadows of you name a price
exorbitant for short lease.
What would you suggest I do,
wryly smile and turn away,
fox-teeth gnawing chest-bones through?

Even less would that be true
than, carnally, I was to you
many, many lives ago,
requiems of fallen snow.

And, frankly, well, they'd laugh at me,
thick of belly, thin of shank,
spectacle of long neglect,
tragedian of public mirth.

(Chekhov's Mashas all wore black
for a reason I suspect:
Pertinence? None at all—
yet something made me think of that.)

"Life!" the gob exclaimed to Crane,
"Oh, life's a geyser!"
             Oui, d'accord—
from the rectum of the earth.

Bitter, that. Never mind.
Time's only challenger is time.


Androgyne, mon amour,
cold withdrawal is no cure
for addiction grown so deep.
Now, finally, at cock's crow,
released in custody of sleep,
dark annealment, time-worn stones
             far descending,
no light there, no sound there,
entering depths of thinning breath,
farther down more ancient stones,
halting not, drawn on until

             Ever treacherous, ever fair,
             at a table small and square,
not first light but last light shows
(meaning of the single rose
where I dined au solitaire
sous l'ombre d'une jeunesse perdue?)

             A ghostly little customs-clerk
             ("Vos documents, Mesdames, Messieurs?")
             whose somehow tender mockery
contrives to make admittance here
             at this mineral frontier
a definition of the pure...

             Androgyne, mon amour.

                                                                   San Francisco, 1976