For Harry Crosby
It is better to be too soon than too late.
Driving through the shell craters of Verdun
In an ambulance, your death-day came
With a vaporized truck and you, unharmed
And awake in the terror of the black sun.
From there, you played a beautiful corpse:
Graduating drunk from Harvard frat parties
And gold-tipped cigarettes to opium
In Paris, and the Four Arts Ball orgy.
Whether drunk on champagne at the Ritz
With your step-daughter, also drunk and six,
Or, mid-air, making a bi-plane stall
After hiding first editions of Baudelaire...
For a franc in some dingy Seine bookstall,
You lived the decade in a rich man's fling,
Finding the extravagant error in everything.
How sad then, dashing suitor, sun-tattooed...
And careless as a Roman emperor
That, in all of France, the one girl to refuse
Your silk-lined bed was the fickle Muse
Whose slights burst your hair in bloody flower.