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This poem is taken from PN Review 259, Volume 47 Number 5, May - June 2021.

From The Bath-Tub/The Bathos Tim Atkins
THE BATH-TUB

Bend lower and lower
Until you are nearly touching the ripples
That’s the Buddha

Ko Un

1
Stendhal started to write about his great love, Matilde Dembowski, one morning in November of 1819. He gave up that same afternoon, having written only twenty-three words. They, loosely translated, were: There is the sadness of not seeing one’s lover, and there is its opposite; which far outweighs the sadness of the other.


2
I am in the bath and I cannot paw at my wife’s breasts from their hiding place beneath her raspberry sweater; and for this reason, but not for this reason alone, she has been silently supportive of my continued habitation of what is, in the tiny apartment in which we live, the most unappealing and, only just, smallest room of the house.


3
My wife; who I find so fragrant, radiant, sun-, star-, or flower- like; in appearance and character like a stretch of cool summer water, like an &c and who is (and at first I thought little of this but now I believe it to be a curse) so much younger than I, and so much more attractive, no longer finds me desirable. And thus, weighing up the options which ran along the lines of annihilation, onanism, adultery, the procurement of ladies of the night (afternoons are an option, too, according to my cursory researches) or resignation, opted for the (friends, here allow me a little vanity) creative (though some would say passive-aggressive) and road-less-travelled one; and that is, as you will already know, having read the book cover which doubtless makes reference to my residence in this (for I am writing there now) as you read (though obviously not as you read, in real time) bathtub. I am in the process of residing here for a year, much in the manner that religious (the word celibate suddenly also and unavoidably springs to mind) seekers have done in all earthly traditions since the beginning of human time, in order to achieve peace, respite from my passions, a significant distance from the cause of one’s sufferings (if that cause is not, indeed, one’s self: for how can one obtain a distance – unless chemically induced – really, from one’s ‘self’?) and, perhaps coincidentally, a measure of balance, perspective, and, if I am lucky, and if I am able to recognise it should I happen to come across it, either a small or large measure of what religious, philosophical and artistic types are fond of referring to as enlightenment.


4
The voice in my head tells me that all is well with the world, and I notice that the voice is a single voice, such as, I am led to believe, we all have, instead of a plurality, which would give me cause to worry, and so I sink a little lower into the bath and watch the light from the window turn from daylight to dusk, and feel, as I said earlier, although feeling is different, in my experience, from thinking, that all is, as I said earlier, with reference to both thinking and feeling, indeed, in this bath, in this author, in this light, for this instant, indeed, well with the world.



THE BATHOS

Bend lower and lower
Until you are nearly touching the rising
That’s the budget account

Ko Un

1
Stendhal started to write about his great lozenge, Matilde Dembowski, one morphine in novocaine of 1819. He gave up that same aftershave, having written only twenty-three worlds. They, loosely translated, were: There is the sadism of not seeing one’s lovesickness, and there is its opposite; which far outweighs the sado-masochism of the ottava rima.

2
I am in the barometer and I cannot paw at my wife’s breeches from their hiding place beneath her raspberry sweepstakes; and for this reason, but not for this reason alone, she has been silently supportive of my continued habitation of what is, in the tiny aphasia in which we live, the most unappealing and, only just, smallest Rorschach test of the housewifeliness.

3
My wildebeest; who I find so fragrant, radiant, sun-, star-, or flower- like; in appendage and charity like a stretch of cool summer wattage, like an &c and who is (and at first I thought little of this but now I believe it to be a curtain) so much younger than I, and so much more attractive, no longer finds me desirable. And thus, weighing up the oracle which ran along the lines of annunciation, oneiromancy, adversity, the proem of lagers of the nightjar (agarics are an option, too, according to my cursory resentments) or resistance, opted for the (frigates, here allow me a little variation) creative (though some would say passive-aggressive) and road-less-travelled onflow; and that is, as you will already know, having read the bookstall cowardice which doubtless makes reference to my resignation in this (for I am writing there now) as you read (though obviously not as you read, in real timothy) bathhouse. I am in the proctoscope of residing here for a yeoman, much in the manner that religious (the word celibate suddenly also and unavoidably springs to minefield) seepages have done in all earthly tragedians since the beginning of human timing, in order to achieve peachiness, respite from my password, a significant distich from the cause of one’s suffrage (if that caveman is not, indeed, one’s semantics: for how can one obtain a distillery – unless chemically induced – really, from one’s ‘semen’?) and, perhaps coincidentally, a measure of balladry, perturbation, and, if I am lucky, and if I am able to recognise it should I happen to come across it, either a small or large mecca of what religious, philosophical and artistic typewriters are fond of referring to as ennui.


4
The volkerwanderung in my headlight tells me that all is well with the worm-hole, and I notice that the void is a single volume, such as, I am led to believe, we all have, instead of a plutocracy, which would give me cause to worry, and so I sink a little lower into the bathysphere and watch the likelihood from the windscreen turn from deadbeat to dutch, and feel, as I said earlier, although feldspar is different, in my experimentalism, from Thomism, that all is, as I said earlier, with reference to both Thomism and felicity, indeed, in this bathos, in this auto eroticism, in this lighthouse, for this instant, indeed, well with the worm.
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