To Baudelaire

The head is the body’s lair.
It may be slightly in front.
Milking these separations,
Words answer the immortal need

For intoxicating monotony. The body
Is the mind’s sieve.
Beloved grief, water drips
From a block of red ice

Onto a perfumed paradise
Lost in the obsessive embrace
Of reader and writer. Superb haloes
Hang from the heads

Of naked slaves whipping themselves.
A new world is required
To stomach the images
Floating on the headless

Torso of the old.
“I was surprised to find myself
Staring at an empty hole.
I ordered flowers.”

“To Baudelaire” from Ten to One: Selected Poems © 1999 by Bob Perelman. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used with permission.