Hemingway, Coffee, and Green Fairies
Old Man of the Sea
As I sat in the Coffee Club today,
who should I see but Ernest Hemingway:
he was just sitting there as large as life
chatting to Elsie, his young Chinese wife.
And on the table lay his brown felt hat
and a book of tales by the coffee mat.
He lounged back smiling, in suede boots and jeans,
a successful writer and man of means.
He’s dead, you say, it must be someone else,
anyway Elsie doesn’t rhyme with else
and not one of his four wives had that name
nor was he married to a Chinese dame.
The resemblance, though, was extremely weird,
right down to his snow-white hair and wiry beard,
and those twinkling eyes and rough hewn good looks
that can only be got by writing books.
And then he laughed, exposing teeth worn down,
from chewing on his words or half-a-crown,
maybe advanced by some English guy
or tossed in his hat by a passer by.
Then I finished my coffee and went outside,
leaving Hemingway with his brand new bride
and sure enough there was his four-wheeled drive,
with a great stinking fish lashed to the side.
The waitress brought his mocha on a tray,
he thanked her but he would have liked to say,
“you’re very pretty,” but this would not do
for a poor patent clerk, and married too.
He should have said, “I will be famous soon,”
but might as well have spoken to the moon.
The marbled patterns in the tabletops,
beneath the cake crumbs and the coffee slops
then revealed to him aether’s janus face:
ten origins defined as time and place,
tensely reciting their mysterious rhyme
in ambiguous seas of space and time.
The curving saddle of the violin,
clasped to the softness of the woman’s chin,
blended the interplay of cosmic fire
with high vibrations in the singing wire,
suffused Bach’s ringing music in his blood
with thoughts of love and happy womanhood.
Like a wily goddess languorously
displayed, the universe humorously
played god’s waiting game with her loaded dice,
against his equations until that nice
moment, revealing energetic charms,
she let her mass fall lightly in his arms.
Tormented fires, raging without a sound,
like unabated furies swirling round,
all neatly caught before he was quite sure,
in bold equations in his office drawer.
The three-page supplement should make it plain
another Newton had been born again.
The yellow dwarf was bending light from stars
before mankind had ever noticed Mars,
but now two expeditions caught Sol out
despoiling Newton’s perfect world without
a doubt, and confirming, more or less, that
space-time was bent or slightly curved, not flat.
The cream expanding in the coffee cup
spawned galaxies before he picked it up,
the dreaming eyes within the gentle face
rested lovingly on the moving space,
no Riemann geometry was on his mind
when he observed the curves of womankind.
Green Fairy by Pygar
One morning in early May,
as lazily in bed I lay,
I had a premonition
of a lovely apparition:
the green faerie on my mind
was of a very humankind.
As I looked from my window,
a red bus came down the hollow,
behind the tangle of hawthorn
and elms, past fields of sprouting corn.
Riding on the Midland Red,
my sweet cousin Venus sped.
Hera was not pleased to see her,
guarding her Aeternus Puer,
minding my years one score and five,
old enough to learn to jive,
but too puerile to heed the dove
sobbing in the oak of love.
Bewitched by sly and hazel eyes,
and promises of faerie sighs,
I took her walking in the woods,
where bluebells shook their tender hoods.
Beneath a stand of chestnut trees
we walked and talked and took our ease.
By blushing rhododendron bush,
and boggy fields of waving rush,
we wandered round the oxbow lake,
raised up into a garden snake,
where high born gentry once stepped down
to see the work of Mr. Brown.
Like the serpent my thoughts turned too,
on what a boy and nymph might do.
At the end of the serpentine,
I longed to make the faerie mine.
Over the Chinese bridge we crossed,
but love like courage soon was lost.
She climbed through while I held the wire,
exposing thighs to boy’s desire,
and laid down among the mallow,
waiting for a love too callow
to inflame or satisfy,
or even make a faerie cry.
She was so very small and neat,
with flowers gathered round her feet,
but what I remember best
was my cheek resting on her breast:
beneath, the willow of her flesh
flowed like the river, sweet and fresh.
She watched the dancing dragonflies
and listened to the thrush’s cries,
then rose and brushed away the grass;
Titania awake now saw the ass.
We walked home through a boggy field,
her thoughts her own and mine concealed.
Once returned to hearth and home,
Hera did not hear us come,
creeping softly through the door;
perhaps sleeping, she never saw
the faerie’s wicked sideways glance
towards the stair and one last chance.
The sprite slept in my bed that night:
I slept below by Hera’s spite,
not lying in my faerie’s arms,
I’d never know her magic charms,
but in the night my faerie bled
and left her moonstain in my head.
Tony Thomas was born in England in 1939, and is a retired bureaucrat living in Brisbane, Australia. He has an Australian wife, two adult daughters, a dog and a cat. He holds a degree in economics from the University of Queensland. His interests are catholic, and include: writing fiction, poetry, and blogging political diatribes.