Now you are put to rest

for Jean Franco
(March 15, 1907- April 15, 1992)


They opened his abdomen

found what they were not looking for

though half-expected

to see
polyps enormous cancerous mush

in lieu of

and the rest that had given out on him

They said: if we had known we wouldn't have torn into his

to see

even the sample test told us as much

but we did it for him

he so wanted it done

now we merely have to wait and see

just how long it would take him to conk out

without solid food to pass

from his newly-grafted conduite

He was completely in their hands

and hung on to their lips their every nod

their plans for him

and the use he had for their

apprentis chirugiens sorciers

He kept his anger for his friends family telephone operators

the aide-soignantes

those he could intimidate with his age

for he didn't know what they knew

they wouldn't feel the hurt the slight

for long

the rankling umbrage sans riposte

He didn't mind all the inconvenience

the constant waking to pass water

the secluded room without tv

without his wife to take it out on

without the means to exude

his usual referee's contempt of rules

In their hands he was the meek inept thing

pleading with his eyes

his whole body bent to their gaze

of wonder

of why he would so question going

now then or even a little later


You had said when I kidded you
After all I'm not going to be far away
Now you are put to rest
In a place dug and slabbed for you alone

As if you were not going to rest for good
with all the others
It is a place to a side in the pebble-strewn sidewalk
against the wall
your feet to the east
all the other feet to the south
As of a general standing to a salute from his army

There was no sight of you
The golden chocolatish-pink of your casket
made more glittering the cross
I couldn't guess if you would have wanted the Church's ornament

then the feeling of being out-of-place
thoughts of you in a cloud

We talked in suppressed tones
about you of you
trying to be polite and succeeding among uneasy fellows
here and there some unwanted details slipped in through nervousness
yet none felt your hand tremble on the racket

You were the master of the court
as now you mastered your going by the low sleek slate-grained marble
in sharply polished angular correctness
amidst shy upright cypresses and neatly cut passageways of chipped stone

We sprinkled your tomb with Church water
Neither rain nor snow you remember could keep you from finishing your game
Already as we turned in a column the voices now louder in the distance
They were arranging the roughly hewn stone slabs
before the marble thickened your bed

You may at last be at rest
with no one to challenge you to a test of strength
your referee's whistle holding its un-disputable silence

You came with the spring
Now you go in cheery spring
Your sollicitous voice still lingers in our courts
You knew us all by name and style at play
long before we met under your critical gaze

(Jean Franco, born in Morocco of Spanish stock, was an Income Tax Inspector and in his spare-time an International Soccer Referee for France. We often played tennis at the Tennis Club in Fresnes-94.)

T. Wignesan

If I might be allowed to say so, I think my "first" love was poetry. Unfortunately for me, the British curricula at school did not put me in touch with the Metaphysical Poets, nor with the post-Georgian school. Almost all the school texts after World War II contained invariably Victorian narrative poems and some popular examples of Romantic poetry. I chanced upon a selection of T. S. Eliot's and Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and a little later on Pope's An Essay on Man and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. That did the trick. Yet, I regret not having taken to prose in earnest earlier than the publication of my first collection: Tracks of a Tramp (1961). There's nothing like trying your hand at all kinds of prose exercises to come to grips with poetry. Or rather to see how poetry makes for the essence of speech/Speech and makes you realise how it can communicate what prose cannot easily convey. I have managed to put together several collections of poems, but never actually sought to find homes for them in magazines, periodicals or anthologies. Apart from the one published book, some of my sporadic efforts may be sampled at of Poems.htm

Last updated July 05, 2016