To read Fool’s Odyssey from the beginning, click here.
Chapter Three: My Life of Decadent Sensualism in Paris (Continued)
Previously: The Fool’s life of joyful hedonism stood him up.
The waiter brought chicken and the drippy frites,
and then some more wine,
and I drank and drank.
And then I stopped drinking
because it wasn’t fun anymore.
I remembered when I used to live in L.A. with my girlfriend
and we used to like wine,
but it made her sad all the time
because it reminded her that she couldn’t trust me—
though I never was unfaithful with my feet,
only my head (she said there was no difference).
She grew too familiar;
the wine also;
too much like a nervous friend.
And when she moved out,
I did everything I could to be happy and deep.
I smoked a pipe and drank whisky,
and typed a lot of poems
and watched things I hated on television
until three in the morning.
But the vacuum cleaner was on in my heart even then.
Sitting in that café,
I tried to remember the features of her face,
but they’d all faded with the light of time,
like primitive polaroids,
instant pictures with no depth of field.
And the wine?
It was never anything more than a reminder of how you already felt.
If you felt good, great,
but if you felt lousy
it got inside your head and ran around shouting,
“Boy, you sure feel lousy!”
And pot was just a variation on a theme
(so much for the age of aquarius);
it either made me hungry or afraid of my own thoughts,
at which times I tended to consume myself,
and the taste of myself was very bitter.
I mean, how could I like myself
if I didn’t know who I was?
I might be a pearl.
But then again I might be an abandoned retread
in some forgotten dump
(though I’d never much believed in reincarnation—
I mean, how could you get it right if you didn’t know what you’d done wrong last time?)
knowing where I was supposed to go wouldn’t get me there;
I didn’t have the fare.
I felt like spiritual vagrant.
And I said of laughter, “It is mad,”
and of mirth, “What is if for?”
I had sought to draw my flesh with wine
and to lay hold of folly till I might see
what was good for the sons of men.
But I saw that madness
was in the hearts of the sons of men,
and evil, while they live.
And after that they simply die.
To read Fool’s Odyssey 14, click here.