A ragged Charlie Chaplin,
he savors word-sounds, mouths the choicest
their flavor, licking them with tongue-tip.
Nose flattened against glass,
palate provoked, he relishes
the menu of a four-star restaurant—
sirloin, aperitif, meringue.
He knows which cigarettes mean fine tobacco,
breathing in their butts’ aroma,
what names of wine to swirl for taste.
His throat hums when he thinks Mercedes
or Jaguar, as cherished
as some lilting high-class monikers—
Lili Marlene and Melanie—
lovely, alluring, lulling him to bed.
Don’t think to devalue
or talk him out of any treasured phrase.
His thin lips tighten, his eyes narrow
at such bad mouthing. Only as an artist
will he yield his word-hoard. In the dark
of early morning, he takes spray gun
to walls of the Bronx and rail embankments,
or the topless towers of Queens,
blazoning his hunger for the world