Shakespeare Has Been Here
Someone has trashed your office again.
Torn memos, defiled books, computer
linked to a thousand porno sites.
A foot of debris silts the carpet.
You insist that Shakespeare did this
instead of writing his plays. Face it,
Dada is dead, even the Dada
of the mind. No use insisting
Shakespeare didnít write his plays.
No use claiming Ben Jonson conspired
against posterity, or claiming
that in spirit if not body
Shakespeare, frustrated by unearned
reputation, trashed this office,
shredding letters and x-ing out
every day left on the calendar.
Stephen Greenblatt will speak here soon.
Iím sure he believes Shakespeare
wrote his plays, believes his spirit
rests comfortably long after death.
Heíll smile politely at your theory
but have you banned from MLA.
Campus police believe students
with warped humours broke in,
stole nothing, but defaced volume
after volume of Speculum,
Modern Philology, ELH.
You insist Shakespeare has been here,
but he didnít fill your coffee cup
with kerosene and float a rose
in it. He didnít paint that moustache
on the photo of you receiving
an award from a sniveling dean.
Shakespeare lies as quietly dead
as possible, his plays flashing
in the night sky, his characters
walking the earth on his behalf.
None of your colleagues and surely
none of your students are willing
or able to play such roles except
when youíre not looking, their savage wits
retiring as their midnight crimes.
At the Memorial Flower Show
monstrously obese women
clot the aisles, fondling displays,
and crush me as I search for samples
of my favorite spring perennials.
Pungent funereal lilies scorn
my effort to squeeze past a bulk
hunkered over a tiny pink spray
of anemone. At last I pop
like champagne into clear white space
where converging forces converge.
The woman lurching toward me
wrote a book on flowers in Shakespeare
and illustrated it with full-length
nudes of herself, her husband,
and their friends at the country club.
I turn to run; but a mob
of former students, panting doglike,
rushes to congratulate me.
The flowers, held far above my head,
rain down. Violets, pansies, phlox,
roses, zinneas, delphiniums,
Jacobís ladder, speedwell, dahlias.
I cry aloud and the sound
becomes gelatinous, distorted,
blackens like shittake mushrooms.
The Shakespeare author glories
in the rain of flowers. Her breath
makes fevered perfume. Her body
fills the whole available space,
squashing the mob of students. They burst
like individual brain cells,
leaving the slightest residue.
I fall to my knees in the flowers
and the great bulk consumes me.
Nothing now but Shakespeare, Shakespeare,
and the bold commingled flower-scents
raving in air so unbreathable
police and grieving survivors
will never believe I was here.