Where are the people as beautiful as poems,
As calm as mirrors,
With their oceanic longings--
The idler whom reflection loved,
The woman with the iridescent brow?
For I would bring them flowers.
I think of that friend too much moved by music
Who turned to games
And made a game of boredom,
Of that one too much moved by faces
Who turned his face to the wall, and of that marvelous liar
Who turned at last to truth.
They are the past of what was always future.
They speak in tongues,
Silently, about nothing.
They are like old streetcars buried at sea,
In the wrong element, with no place to go . . .
I will not meet her eye,
Although I shall, but here's a butterfly,
And a white flower,
And the moon rising on my nail.
This is the presence of things present,
Where flying woefully is like closing sweetly,
And there is nothing else.
From "The Collected Poems of Henri Coulette" (University of Arkansas Press: $24.95, cloth; $14.95, paper; 252 pp.) In the spring of 1988, aged 60, Coulette died in South Pasadena, a few miles from where he had been born. "In preparing this introduction," editors Donald Justice and Robert Mezey write, "we have been struck once more by how splendid a writer our friend was and how badly neglected . . . the time is now at hand for Coulette's work to be recognized for what it seems to us very plainly to be: a series of 'made' poems of rare clarity and beauty and, at the same time, an extraordinarily sensitive and honest record of his time and place." copyright 1990 by Patrick O'Reilly. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.