The Armouress Replies Sculpture

The Armouress Replies

It seemed I heard the one
they called the Armouress
complain, longing for the days
when she was young.

Le Testament, Francois Villon

My poet-punk, poète maudit,
When it comes to women you know shit.
Look at the girls who’ve eyes to see
What God gave them for tush and tit:
They set their caps and cruise the street
For some young buck who’ll buy them stuff,
Give them a brat at either teat.
They call that home, for them enough.

Not me. My beauty was of such regard,
Although they called me Armouress
One look at me and men grew hard
To know me by my true name, Amoress.
No Little Lamb but Lioness,
Reclining in a dark-carved gown,
I took it as my pride of place
To reign in the raffish parts of town.

Men of high degree, the higher
Born the better, called on me.
Dressed to the nines in evening attire
Their pants dropped with their dignity.
Even Prelates of the Holy See
Left their better angels at the door
To try my Kingdom with their Key.
Like rosary beads, I counted four.

Though I had always honeyness to spare,
My days of coiffed perfection passed.
No longer Countess, not yet whore,
I plied my jaded kittyness
To land the butcher’s boy. I took his sass,
The protestations of his love,
His boiled nuts against my ass—
By God, hand never found such glove!

And who would have me now? My Boo-Hoo’d Boy
Gone 30 years, my brief bloom flared to fat,
Behold the glass: my own memento mori.
To earn my bread I must submit
To sexual gravel, sexual grit.
(I porter his load, get a grip—
Old hag, you make love like a vat.—
On all fours make the ancient trip.)

But look at you, Villon. A wine-house spill
Is all it takes to start a fight.
Your rodomontade incites a brawl—
Haymaker left, roundhouse right—
Another larruping, another flight
From roof to roof across Paris,
Another pinch, another night
Guest of the Gendarmerie.

You make your bail with a round of rhymes,
Your louche ballade a dirty joke:
The Bishop’s flustered Amens…ahems!
As the parish girl of wide-eyed look
Knelt before him and mistook
His proffered finger for the Host,
Then grasped (here loud guffaws) his crook:
For Father, Son,…that’s not a post!

But now you’ve done it. Robbed a church.
Killed a priest. The last of straws,
M. Dehors declares. The jailors birch
Your backside, flay it with the taws.
I seem to hear you sing out your envois
As if any prince would pardon
Such a breaker of the laws,
A pauper-poet and his hard-on.

Item: To Mâitre Villon I’ll bring this poem
Where none but the dead would stay to hear,
Some nameless crossroads you call home.
I’ll read it through although I fear
You’ll have no comment: eyeless, ear-
less, and a raven’s got your tongue.
May it coda your career
As the gibbet does the hung.

But who are you to judge, or me?
To profligacy—no tittle no jot unbet—
We gave ourselves. To ardency.
Time tightens and we’re both forfeit.
My body’s empty as a roadside hut,
Your country of the tongue’s a tough terrain.
For you the hangman’s tourniquet.
For me the end of just another crone.

John Barr

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