Pluck The Carcass! Pluck The Carcass!* A Memory of Romance Past

“Well, do you like poetry?” I asked. “Which poets are your favorite?”
A dunce I was, and all of nineteen. My previous love interest read me a lot of poetry from memory, and I him; ergo, I imagined that’s how all romance went.
But this new love interest had not displayed any poetic inclinations in the entire two months of our involvement.
“So, anything you can read me?” I asked.
He threw his head back and his left foot forward, fore-stretched his right arm as though proffering me a brimming cup of wisdom deep, and chanted:
“Darling, do you recall that thing we found
(“A lovely summer day!” you said)
That noisome carcass where the path swung round
A sprawling pebble-covered bed.
Its legs raised like a whore’s in lubric play,
It burned, oozing rank fetors there,
Shameless and nonchalant, it offered day
Its belly. Poisons filled the air!”
You may prefer a different English translation of Une Charogne; there are many. (
Although, of course, what he read was “Мой ангел, помните ли вы ту лошадь дохлую под ярким белым светом, среди рыжеющей травы? Полуистлевшая, она, раскинув ноги, подобно девке площадной, бесстыдно брюхом вверх лежала у дороги, зловонный выделяя гной!”
Because it was in Russia, and we were both Russian.
Well, blimey, if it isn’t Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal, thought I. An unexpected choice; not the best for wooing girls with; but okay, respectable.
Perhaps there were depths to the new love interest, after all, thought I.
Afterwards, no new poetry springs sprang.
But only weeks later, the love interest and I watched a home video of an epic party he and his friends had recently had.
In the video, there was a moment: his friend, a musician with romantic facial hair, threw his spent cigarette over the balcony railing, his head back and his left foot forward and chanted:
“That noisome carcass where the path swung round
A sprawling pebble-covered bed.
Its legs raised like a whore’s in lubric play!”
I’d just begun studying phonetics at college then, and I would have been able to chart all the rises and falls of his intonation, and the chart would replicate exactly the Baudelaire that I had heard from my love interest before.
“Qu’est-ce que c’est?” was what I wanted to know.
Mon âme had to confess with a giggle that he’d never read the Baudelaire. The poem, The Carcass, appeared between tracks on a music album by some Russian band. The intonation with which to chant it also came from the album.
Well, then.
A year hence, I was at a party. A third, entirely third gentleman sat down next to me on a bench and cleared his throat:
“A-hem! Miss! If I may have your attention…THAT NOISOME CARCASS!”
Bien, thought I!
The young monsieur is attracted to my noisome carcass.

*Sung to the tune of “Rock the Casbah” by the Clash


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