Collegium Musicum


by Frank Thomas Smith




Taking my son to the Collegium Musicum

Is good for his musical future, no doubt;

for me it has advantages, too.


The hour and forty minutes spent

waiting at the outdoor cafe

give me a chance to think and watch.

The black bow-tied vested waiter

brings my cafecito without

having to ask -- and sweet cookies,

the unkempt park across the street,

the flower-printed tablecloths,

sunglasses in winter, women in jeans,

ancient trains rattling by,

the kiosko "Revistas - Diarios",

men smoking, uninhibited here.


I light my pipe, puff blissfully,

my thoughts contain the past, no

avoiding that, the future less,

suppressed; what's uppermost is now.


If life is all and this is happiness,

how on earth can death be less?


If life is all, then this is all

and death is all, it follows.


Such thoughts were once reserved

for the philosopher's dreary den,

here they stoop to invitations

from cafe idlers, now and then.





                                                The First Circle


A young woman passes my table,

pretty thing with long dark hair

cut abruptly down her back,

shoulder-bag, jeans, enigmatic smile.


Twenty years ago she sucked

her mother's teat if she was lucky.


Fifty years from now she'll ask

why she did what she did

and wonder what's next on life's agenda.


She'll even know it'll be over soon

(she knows now but it's buried down

in consuming self-conscious youth)

and may decide not to think,

or if she does, return to church.


Maybe centuries on from now

She'll sit pensive at a cafe table,

see me passing by and wonder

who I am and we'll close a circle,

one of three.




      The Second Circle


A boy waits for the waiter to go

and darts through the twilight traffic,

black dilated eyes fix

each patron, bare arm extends

a stubby nail-bitten hand.


The tanned man sees only the hand,

doesn't look up from his paper, shakes

his leonine head: no, no.


Two ladies so busy are sure to ignore

the hand, the eyes, the begging boy.


He comes to me; I've heard too

that such as he are exploited by

their masters and giving makes it worse.


I don't know, it may be true,

but what is truth in ignorance?


I give him some pesos anyway

in case some day the roles are reversed

and I'll be he and he'll be me.


A circle is closed, the second of three




                                                    The Third Circle


The earth is round, more or less,

just like the heads on all our shoulders.


My coffee cup, from the bird's-eye view,

Is round though two-dimensional.


Even the universe seems to have

the shape of an infinite expanding bubble.


Is this what makes the world go round?


It's not enough, this observed,

partly thought out rotundity.


The unexpected blow, the theft,

the unknown assassin's thrust,

the smiling traitor's perfidious lie

all smudge the portrait's shining splendor.


Now an imponderable upsets the equation:

She rounds the corner, looks about

like a child in a fairy fable

and makes her way to my shaded table.


She takes her place across from me,

for love is an ellipse,

 the One is Three.                                                           

For more of the author's poetry, see "Circles"