Alice O. Howell   






                                Bacchus makes the transition


                        from wineskins to bottles


                        rather well


                                    all things considered


                        his black hair curls and glistens as of old                  


                        but his bowtie and red brass-buttoned vest


                        do not really become him.


                        Constrained and perspiring slightly


                        he wipes the bar snd sighs:


                                    City people!


Wine, for instance, should be drunk at sunset


in soft air, out of doors


to the lucky tune of plucked strings


and the glass held up to the dying sun


to catch its fire in the glowing crimsons of the grape


            the sea fine and blue far off


each savory swallow


should be followed by a glorious thought of friendship


of increscent foot-tapping dance


or a silky naked shoulder under idly stroking fingers


            with rosy joys to come



Grapes should be bunched and blessed and burst


                        for promise


                        mmmmmmmmm!  mmmmmmm!  mmmmmmm!


                        he kisses his fingertips


                        which have just filled an ice bucket


                        feeling grapes, nibbling grapes


                        dreaming, as well, the grapeleaves


                            curled around hot spiced rice


                                    currants and cinnamon


Ah! the round little breasts of young girls


glimpsed through the wine


            beautiful! beautiful!


or kissing the flushed globes of sweet apples


and plums like nipples, all the juices and rivulets dribbling


            of good dreams under an olive tree


with maidens bringing white exposed cheeses


            round and mellow


perfect with the wine!



            cool, with fish, lemon and fresh parsley


                        white wine, green-gold, dusted and dry


                                    with fragrance


            mmmmmmmmm! mmmmmmm!  mmmmmmmm!


Now, for the red - wet smacking happy kisses


of plump mothers full of laughter


            with warm gurglings of appreciation


as they dance slowly swaying the melons


                        la-la!  la-la!  la-la!


                                    top and bottom


            aaaaaaaaaaaah  mmmmmmmmm!  aaaaaaaaaah!


fiery, rosy, ruby, tongue-wafting, flowing, sluicing


                        rivers of joy


clear sweet sips of the living gods!



                        Bacchus leans on the bar, wistfully smiling


                        out over the maroon curtains on their brass rings


                        to the grey afternoon haze of the city street -


                                    a harsh voice interrupts:


"Double on the rocks. Hey, and hurry up, man,


I gotta plane to catch!"