Friend

We haven’t spoken in a while,

But you are not forgotten, you

Know that, how could you be,

When the inner monologue,

The constant play of allusion and forgetting

Inevitably leads to you

Friend for fair and foul weather.

 

Our age is so superior –

Liberated, emancipated, yet cannot

Conceive of love in any form

But sex.  Its dirty Freudian mind

Staking a claim in mental space

Has turned to children, our future

The price gladly paid for an erection.

 

The ancients thought friendship better

They wrote about it a lot –

And it is true in some ways

That a friend is better than a lover.

A lover wants us to be beautiful and clever

And putting us through our paces,

If we jump too slowly, will tire.

 

A poor performance means they are

At fault.  Inadequacy is unacceptable.

Better, while there’s time to act

Better a messy divorce, the courts

The children aphasic, better by far

Than languishing in the same bed

Desiring another.

 

A friend wants you to be beautiful and clever

Because you are.  Working through the heart

He sees the soul.  Friendship is a welcoming a home

Coming.  Love is an easy word

To drop. Let me say affinities.

In affinities there is fine

Finitude, finesse, infinity, refined

All these can encompass friendship

Not define it.  It can only be lived

Like cricket or art or sex;

Though unlike the above, it cannot,

In any of the possible worlds,

Be a solitary pleasure.

 

So let us raise a glass

To friendship in all its guises

To companionship, camaraderie

Cronyness, matyness, to chicks with chicks

And guys with guys, locker-room pals:

Each in its way a small parcel

Of a potential better world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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C’est la Vie

This is the ordinariness  of life:

Being born, having a name, a father, a mother

Feeding, excreting, love

Loss, loss of status, attention

Being alone.

 

Childhood, adolescence, occupying a body

Falling out of love with self, love

Household, enterprise, submission

Struggle, victory, wishing for defeat

Loss, grief, disappearance.

 

In all this, what, then, is death?

A way, a continuum, a warp, an interstice?

A breathlessness, a conversation stopped,

A falling off, a falling away

An emptiness,  a blank space.

 

This is the ordinariness of days

Study, joy, being with children

Buying, selling, love, good deeds

The evil in you, the evil in us

At night calling a name.

 

Finding/ not finding the other

Whose otherness absorbs our own

In erotic allusion or work

And things out of the ordinary

Being alone.

 

It may not be much

But a day we remember a dead friend

Is not completely lost ( a gesture

A word) better not to snub

An ordinary ghost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love Lost

 

I wish I had a BMW

For every time you turned away

And a diamond ring

For every time you said no

And a million dollars

For every time in bed

Your mind left your body beached.

 

At least I’d be rich

Being rich softens grief

Luxury takes the sting out of lies

And sex is there for ready money.

 

I could say I’ve loved too much

But that’s no excuse

All agree love dies, either slowly

Or suddenly, you’ve got to be

Stoic, till the next time.

 

So here I am

Out on a limb, my love

Waves breaking against an empty cliff,

Irrigation of stony soil

Hands grasping desperately at air.

 

Like that woman painted

Bt Friedrich, you are seen from behind

(The adorable line of your neck

I sometimes kissed) sadness fills the

Unseen room, I shut the door.

Abe Casper 2011

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Ashes

Air currents (prevailing winds)

May have carried their ashes

Perhaps as far as England

So that Mister Brown’s roses or

Mrs.  Jones’ vegetable garden near

Swansea might well have been quickened

By a butcher named Moshe or

A   virginal young bride.

 

Who knows if perhaps some organic matter

Got into the sea and ended up here

In this city and helped the growth of greenery

On Table Mountain, Nature

Can do such things – the carbon

In our bodies, comes after all

From the far-distant stars.

 

Cruel six million

Coolly awaiting the resurrection

(Rambam’s thirteenth principal!)

Of the dead – your mixing

With the ecosystem seems in some way

Grace, nature

Humanized, as it were.

 

So this new consciousness

Could well be your work

(No pathetic fallacy here!)

Nature no longer merely raped

But consulted, loved, husbanded

Man tenant never owner

(Guarding the garden)

As Jews were in the land.

 

You have become a memorial

Rather than a memory:  yet knowing this

How can we not remember?  You

Could be ghostly in birdsong

Visible in the rose;

After you we need to pay attention

After you landscape has a face.

 

Abe Casper  2011

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On your 21st birthday

Incipit Annus mirabilis

 

I would exhort you to live passionately, did not I

Have so much of the craven in myself. At least I can speak

Of a few things. You are now slightly

Older than you were a day ago. Just as weak

And – I hope – just as prone to sensuality.

Is it possible that now you will seek to follow

Your senses a little more. Little do we

Know of truth now, although our time seems to go

On with enough reality. Once there seemed to be

Reason to hope that we could catch up with truth if not

In books, at least in our lives. Now we are told there can be

Little chance of that; often eyes we meet in the street have got

More truth than our past lives. We fear to see

More as we grow older.

 

Hortari

 

I would exhort you not to be too abstract; breathe

With the apple and the pear. Do not forget a line

Is also – in a sketch – the bound of her nakedness. Seethe

Not with the rough lasciviousness of the older man but with the fine

Intensity of assumed youth – for sometimes I think we feel

As old as civilization. Live according to some dream

The more preposterous, the better. Your dream will be real

As long as you have enough cells to compel illusion. Remem-

ber after any summer of creativity, her smiling.

Perceive in her eyes a pattern, in her rare words decipher a meaning

Not discerned but on occasion, intuited. This is not the same thing

As merely being a lover.

10th January 1972

Abe Caper

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