Baudelaire's Ablutions

Baudelaire, dead broke, nonetheless allowed himself 
two hours for his morning ablutions.
(Warm water can be a narcotic too.) 
His razor scraping whiskers cleanly off 
sounded like a file rassrasping 
against prison bars. Never did this man 
gulp a cup of coffee, bolt out the door 
with a blob of shaving cream on one ear, 
and go to a job. He composed himself. 
Dead broke, he explored (in prose) six waterdrops 
that quake in a corner of Delacroix's painting 
Dante and Virgil! Meanwhile, through his window 
intruded softly the spiel of a fishmonger 
as well as the stench. Many, many vendors still 
singsong their wares, as a sort of wishwash drizzle 
inducing human animals to mope, to yawn. 
We all get bored: between mainstream culture (buy things) 
and nature (in this case, rain), people tend to snooze. 
Poetry jolts awake the lucky few. I praise 
the mirror-gazing mighty poet Baudelaire, 
my hero, a fop full of compulsions, 
a perfectionist to whom a single 
tweezered nosehair brought tears of joy.

From Homesick by Roger Fanning, published by Penguin Putnam, Inc. Copyright © 2002 by Roger Fanning. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.