Despair in action, the Goya pictures, were
Pointed for him: in that context he understood
His first wife who wore death like a fur
And the second one who had him taped for good.
Or a Dostoievski world where good and bad
Were interdependent, only the itch of grief
Absolute. It seemed somehow he had
Confused Christ with the Impenitent Thief.
Being separated from childhood by a crevasse
Deep as the grave, likely he would teach well;
Have a soft spot for the tough boy in the class,
And if he caught them canoodling never tell.
The big man with a glass of gin and fizz
Spilling in poems, in open wounds, the shame,
The importunate horror of knowing the world as it is,
Unpardonable, and loving it just the same.
James K. Baxter (1926 – 1972) was a New Zealand poet and playwright.