Red Velvet Walls
Red velvet walls, red velvet walls
Faded red velvet takes night from
The hands of poets, carries stories
Carries rhymes to a later stage,
A higher balcony.
A lesser dawn with fewer stars
And fewer stars, with lesser men
And louder cries, breaks mountainscape
Reaching pitches and crescendos
Unheard by lesser ears.
Puccini weeps a newer, colder song
Beneath a colder stone
Brushing red velvet. Virtuoso
Means “Right,” morally right. No virtuousos
Tonight between red velvet.
Nothing virtuous, nothing right.
Cream-colored fat tongue
Rhymes read against red velvet
Reflected, not absorbed, not
Absolved like countless thousands
Of other Italian backdoor sins.
Red velvet rejects, reflects cheap
Rhymes & times & lights, tonight.
~Damien Willis, 05/26/03,
for Puccini’s Golden West Poetry Series