To love is something other than what the word-mongers say.
Their words are cries of pigeons as the guns blaze away.
At one time it’s the bottle, the book, the girl and the grove,
Or an orchestral setting of palm trees and sandy cove.
Another time they favor forests of chimney-stacks—
But concrete is hard on knees, and harder on backs.
Or they project the swashbuckling hero in high adventures.
They don’t want forty years of being bound by indentures.
The cold fact is this love game is absolutely no go—
Whether with girl or God one is a donkey at a horse show.
Whatever, fight shy of all love pretenders. A thug
Is a safer companion—with him there’s no humbug.
To love is something other than what the poet-merchants say.
Their words are rotten fruit shamelessly top-dressed for display.
Francis is telling us just how bad these word-mongers are. They are just sitting ducks in the battle of real life. Romantic or gritty, they are sensation indulgers rather than craftsman. The key to being a real poet is to not treat love as a prize to be captured by desire. They are using words for show the way on fruit barrows the good fruit is put in the top layer only. If love is treated as the ego’s game of conquest it is rotten fruit. Poets have falsely dressed up the reality of love for appearance sake.
Romantic stories can have romantic settings or be placed among brute concrete and sex. With humour we are told love is a matter of unglamorous apprenticeship and being a misfit, a donkey at a horse show. Love is not for any kind of show.
It is a challenge for us to see what makes his own poems so special. The next poem explains.