(Lautrec at the Moulin Rouge)

There must surely somewhere
Be a painting Cancan by Lautrec
(as brilliant as his acrobats flying
& booming, with huge muscles & double somersaults!

Or his horse & jockey prancing & leaping,
Tearing paper space to bits
& scattering the bits).

Toulouse reclines tophatted
( a black beadyeyed mouse on an overstuffed couch)
in an elegant brothel.

Huge women – very fat
With legs like oaks – sprawl warmly around him.

The aristocratic midget is happy: his goldenknobbed
brandyfilled stick lies comfortably to hand.

Delightedly he sketches these ladies
(goodhearted peasants pleasantly enjoying
a brief break from a farm).

With satirical poster forgotten
He captures each detail with kindly intensity,
& brilliant accuracy.


The name immediately brings to mind a mouse with a black hat & beard or a heavy-browed shortlegged beetle sitting at a saloon table busily sketching dancers or in a brothel painting absentminded friendly whores who scarcely notice him.

He’s probably drunk & looks comfortable & happy. But somewhere at the back of his mind he sees several muscular acrobats & a horse & rider(himself or his dad?) bounding violently & splendidly.

(In my book one can easily fail to find his inconspicuous Cancan poster (troupe de mlle Eglantine).)