EXPANSIVE POETRY ONLINE
A Journal of Contemporary Arts 

 

SELECTIONS FROM PLAYS, A LIBRETTO & POEMS 

 

by

MICHAEL CURTIS
____________
 

“¡Bomba!”, should you not know, is a four-line verse composed extempore, or nearly so, in poetic competition,
or “bomba-battle” at cantina,  festival, et cetera. Often, there is drinking, and ruddy fun. Bombas are spicy, sharp quatrains
addressed to a competitor or, upon spirited occasion, an object of attention, when, always before recital,
“¡Bomba!” is articulated. Bomba means, “little bomb”, or firecracker lit, exploded to rouse fun and laughter in fellow Mayans,
in the Spanish. English is occasionally mixed-in. These nine Bomba are included in a collection of 245 epigrams,
“Prig E. Map’s Book of Pepigrams” to be released in the next few years.

 

“¡Bomba!”

1.
I wish that I could be the shoes
Who dress your little feet,
So that from time to time I might
See what your pretty feet see.


"¡Bomba!”




2.
When you go to Chichén
To see sergeant Pool
Do not be surprised when
He shows you his Choc-Mool*.


“¡Bomba!”



4. - 5.
   Me:                                                      She:

You, shrill and shapely bragger,            I’ll take the bet, my Señor Map;
There with the lying swagger,               Expecting the blade is brittle;
      Would flutter, I would wager,              And even should you stick it in me,
On my majestic dagger.                        I have no fear of needles.

 

“¡Bomba!”


6.
Watina is a fancy lady
Who wares a daunting girdle
Inside of which are stitched the names
Of heroes who leaped the hurdle.

 
“¡Bomba!”

 
7.
Laying next to sweet Sabrina
When she lied a slumbering,
I thought I heard her mumbling
Lovers she was numbering.

 
“¡Bomba!”


8.
Domina breaks the sidewalk
When her high-heels strut,
And when she swings her iron butt,
Domina cracks our nuts.

 
“¡Bomba!”


9.
For thirty years señora prayed
To be honest, good, and chaste;
But yesterday she got a taste
And said, “Thirty years, a waste.”


“¡Bomba!”

 

                                – so says Prig E. Map

 

                              *Choc-Mool, servant of the God of Rain, occasionally ithyphallic

 

__________________________________________________________________________


Excerpts from

AKADEMIA: THE POLITICAL REGIME

From Michael Curtis's new project, a play in five acts dramatizing Plato’s failure in politics, practical and philosophical; that is, his numerous failures at Syracuse, which destroyed the state, and in his book, The Political Regime, mistranslated, The Republic. From this new play, the opening chorus; and two songs with dialogue interwoven.

PRELUDE

                         CHORUS
Muse,
From light in shadow, Kleio, sing the truth,
On stage, where men in mind see not themselves
Show us what we are, fixed of form, ambition,
Conceit and pride, pain of the innocent.

Muse, form lines that speak the cursed theory.

                          KLEIO
This evil shall not cease for sons of Man
Until the sons of Platon quit the Stage.

                          CHORUS
Kleio, sing cause, expose the force of rope
And knife, the noble lie, the razor and
The gag: these players do not speak
For us, for ourselves we speak, in peace
Against the hand that grabs the gold and gives
The crumbs. Truly, Muse, we sing of liberty,
Freedom from progressive tyranny, the force
Which stops the tongue in broken teeth and blood,
Political coercion: Sing us, Kleio,
Communism, Platon’s failure in the State;
Sing truth sincere against the noble lie,
The big lie in progression then till now;
Speak! Show us here the facts of the regime,
Athens, Ortegia, the Academy,
Death, Platon’s foul, corrupt philosophy.
In reason, sing! Ring clear and sound the theme:

Cold blooded politics. Speak the tragedy.

ACT I, Scene 4

                          COURT-2
Hoya, hoya, saxa:

SYMPOSIASTS pound the couch.

                           COURT-ALL
Alala. Alala.

                           COURT-3
I tell of Dionysus,
stout son of Semele
born on a jutting headland’s
shore of the fruitless sea;
a stripling flush of manhood,
his dark hair waving free,
shoulders bear the purple robe:
to wine, to men, the king!

                          COURT-ALL
Alala. Alala. Hoya, hoya, saxa.

                          COURT-1
All hail the God!

                          COURT-ALL
Hail to Dionysus.

                           DION
Master of the feast! As conversation
Comes about.

ACT I, Scene 4

The AULETE now sounds the tune to start the dithyramb; enter the SATYR ACTOR drawn in mask of Sokrates; at arms as if for battle proud he urges on the men; full throated flute, in turning dance, the aulos follows home. Careful here, in dithyrambic twist and turn, now mind your meter.

                          CRATINUS
The Gods above, the Gods below,
The God who lives next door,
The God with rings upon His toe,
He who crawls, she who snores:
Will you believe me when I say,
With happy shield and pretty sword,
Worship I each God-head in my way.

                          PHILISTUS
Yes, I believe you Sokrates,
The wisest man that there can be.

                          CRATINUS
From my balloon up in the clouds
Down I write you on the ground.

The ship of fools, the ship of state,
The ship with leaks is sinking,
The ship with its first mate agape…

A telling pause; from the actor, Sokrates, a thrusting of the hips.

I pilot with my thinking:

Will you believe me when I say,
With happy shield and pretty sword,
Pilot I each trireme in my way.

                         PHILISTUS
Yes, I believe you Sokrates,
The wisest man that there can be.

PHILISTUS urges all to sing along.

                        COURT-ALL
From my balloon up in the clouds
Down I write you on the ground.

                         CRATINUS
The youth in love, the youth in lust,
The youth who lends me smiles,
The youth who meets me when I thrust,
The youth who twinkles in his wiles:
Will you believe me when I say—

                         PLATON
Dionysius—

                         CRATINUS
With happy shield and pretty sword,

A telling pause; a sword-hip-thrusting two times more than thrice.

Counsel I each student in my way.

                          PLATON
Enough, I say.

                          PHILISTUS
Yes, I believe you Sokrates,
The wisest man that there can be.

                          DIONYSIUS
Beg pardon, Platon.

                          CRATINUS [& A FEW]
From my balloon up in the clouds
Down I write you on the ground.

                           PLATON
I shall not accept your pardon.

                           DIONYSIUS
Platon. Again, you misconstrue. I do
Not beg pardon, pardon I ask from you.

 

 

 

                                *            *           *

 

 

Three Songs from the Galatea;
         libretto II of “The Aestheticon”

SCENE: The agora of Palaipaphos

        [A ceremonial chant is heard off-stage.]
Hypathia:   Aphrodite
Chorus:                golden colored
Doris:        God of Cyprus
Chorus:               subdue the soldier
Eudoxia:    the feathered bird
Chorus:              who dances sky
                  the howling beasts and thee, and I

      [Enter the priestess and her train of Asiatic
       dressed hetaerae.]

Hypathia:  lay the wreath
Chorus:              the flowered garland
Doris:        on the altar
Chorus:              of rich Kytherea
Eudoxia:   to feed the stone’s
Chorus:              resplendent fire
                 that life be granted Love’s desire

Hypathia: hail! Lady
Chorus:             Queen of Cyprus
Doris:       crowned in glory
Chorus:            of God’s design
Eudoxia:  a-like the moon’s
Chorus:            silver starlight
                 shine in arrows of delight

     [Several hetaerae mix with the men
      to engage in negotiation.]

Hypathia: we who symbol
Chorus:            forceful pleasure
Doris:       offer humans
Chorus:            taste sublime
Eudoxia:  You who rule
Chorus:            the heaven’s need
                 bless the acting of the deed

Hypathia: bring to Cyprus
Chorus:           carnal pleasure
Doris:       sing the hymn
Chorus:           of lust divine
Eudoxia:  give the power
Chorus:           will and beauty
                 through which we offer Love to Thee


SCENE: Open air taverna, The Ambrosia

     [A brief instrumental prelude and the stirring
      of the dance before the song.]

Stasinus:   silver shades                      (boys dance while singing,
Boys:               embrace the moon       step hard on first notes)
Stasinus:   caressing feathers
Boys:              breezes swoon
Stasinus:   dewy grasses
Boys:              dampen night
Stasinus:   ecstasy brings god-like sight

Stasinus:         Bakkos takes
Boys:        Ariadne
Stasinus:         Kypris purring
Boys:        is well pleased
Stasinus:         scratching flesh
Boys:        the blood runs down
Stasinus:         blossoms there, love's flowers abound

Stasinus:   Ares lays
Boys:              his sword inside
Stasinus:   Kypris sheath
Boys:             She stretching sighs
Stasinus:   skies open
Boys:             Kypris cries
Stasinus:   the God’s force is not denied

Stasinus:         volcano rumbles
Boys:        trembles earth
Stasinus:         fire and rock
Boys:        in painful birth
Stasinus:         rolling ground
Boys:        yawning parts
Stasinus:        gasses flow in screaming starts 

Stasinus:   faster beats
Boys:             a straining heart
Stasinus:   voiceless speech
Boys:             from mouth departs
Stasinus:   is it love
Boys:             is it art
Stasinus:   conscious thought is torn apart

     [General applause and a few murmurs.]


SCENE: The studio of Pygmalion

                              MAN II
Told you she would dance.
                              MAN I
And the poet sing.
                              STASINUS
Whiter Galatea
                       than are the snow-white petals
slimmer than the adder
                       more flowery than the meadows
fresher than the tender kid
                       more splendid than is crystal
smother than are shells
                       polished in the tides

Truer Galatea
                       than matrons of the moon
humbler than are peacocks
                       less astringent than perfumes
gentler than are cougars
                       less quarrelsome than are hens
finer than are women
                       who breathe and age and die

                            MAN I
Sad song.
                            MAN II
Sad and lovely.
 

                            DORIS
Lovely and sad.

     [Other hetaerae and hangers-on enter Pygmalion’s workshop.]

 

                                                                    __________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epithalamion

 Ahh: May is the month of sweetness & light,
              Of smiles & delights,
               Of love & of life;
May is the month that you marry a wife.
Sing in the Spring, “
Ding, ding-a-ling
              A beautiful thing
              Is a girl in Spring
In white in a ring. O, sing, “
Ding-a-ling
Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling
.” Joy in a wife.
              Ahh: sing and give life,
              Bring smiles and delight.
O, May is the month of sweetness & light,
Of ding, ding-a-ling & love birds who sing
& flowers who bloom & brides & bridegrooms…
Ahh: sing, “
Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling.”

 

Solstice                                                                                                  

 When you with winter lose your looks
    And I drop all my leaves,
When summer’s warmth has turned to chill
    And spring to memory,
I will my dearest love you still,
    Well though my buds may freeze,
When you with winter lose your looks
    And I drop all my leaves.