My arms akimbo, as I imagine Rimbaud,
unlike my elbow, my vision does not bend.
Poet, I leave you in limbo, beating your own tombeau.
I am my own hero, my all-sufficient end.
All my desires a flambeau, as I imagine Nero,
my furnace rages, and my fires extend.
A sense of braggadocio, panache,
otherwise foreign to me. Breast, hip, sheer
delight in sexuality, the lash
of this Welsh woman's presence thrust at you, voyeur,
or thrust at me, parched rider, ready to thrash
myself to frenzy and to taste my tear.
Almost, I'd come to inhabit the unreal
placebo-world you call the real; to inhabit
your thoughts instead of mine. I'm poised to steal
away, tell nothing, escape your trap, with the rabbit-
soul of me safe beneath my pose. I feel
it pulsate softly under this manly habit.
Council New Poetry, series
Gwen John Talking, 2nd edition, Stride
Leaving the Corner, Stride
© Brian Louis Pearce
* Gwen John Self-Portrait, c. 1900, in the National Portrait Gallery, London.