TO THE ONE WHO TAKES OUR PHOTOGRAPH

December 2, 2008  :: 0 comments

We’re here. We know it. Now everybody
else must. Gothic St Maria’s, the perfect
backdrop for Gale’s hair. And all this piazza stone,
bright, rain-washed enough to make me handsome.

The river’s brown though fetching but
I don’t think we can fit it in the frame.
Nor the bridge with those carved cherubs
floating in its arch. Pity that.

Quick now. While the sun is out and there’s no
pigeons flocking in the fountain. The
crowd is thin. The spray is full. So what if you’re a
stranger and will never know the jealous audience

for whom this picture is intended.
Your hands are free aren’t they. Your time’s available.
We’re smiling. Aim and click.
I swear the ones back home won’t blame you.

OUT OF HARM

December 2, 2008  :: 0 comments

Meteors, like crime, happen to other people:
500 fragments raining down on the frozen surface of Tagish Lake,
a thousand pound clump smashing to Earth in an Arizonan canyon.
Sure, lightning strikes close, even incinerated a barn not three blocks from here.
But, in those three blocks, there’s so many houses, so many lives,
such a buffer between you and I and the bad things that happen.
Moira’s cousin was mugged, but that’s Moira, not a close friend.
And just one cousin out of twenty three, who lives in Los Angeles, not here.
Besides, it was a mugging, not a murder. It’s one random incident
happening just this side of nothing happening to nobody nowhere.

We’re safe. Space debris can’t harm us. The weather has other
people on its mind. And if the criminals were a little more petty
they’d be our best friends. It gets so I begin to believe that
you and I will live forever. Harm’s way is not our way.
We can’t wait to tell our bodies.

LESSONS IN SNEAKING OUT AT NIGHT

December 2, 2008  :: 0 comments

First thing is learn to
open and close the windows silently.
Grease them if you have to.
Every Gulag must have its reliable tunnels.

And come the late hour,
train yourself to not fall asleep.
Being wide awake at midnight
is as comforting as carrying a weapon.

As out the hatch, from house to tree
and to the ground you slip, tell yourself how
boring it will be when you can come and go
through the front door any time.

Head toward Main Street, a half a mile
away though it feels like you’re going and going.
Meet the guys or the girl at the preordained
time and place, like they’re anybody, anywhere.

Hang out for a while, with a moon that
slipped from under the sun’s nose,
and outside a barroom where more
escapees cock whiskey-red noses at absent keepers.

Everything’s forbidden: your breath, your laugh,
the words you speak that you don’t know
the actual meaning of. And the sidewalk is taboo.
The shuttered stores are outlawed.

The shimmering street lamps are everything
your parents warned you against.
And, instead of dreams, others just like you…
sin never boasted such a cast list.

Then sneak back in, from tree to wall,
through the frame of that window conspirator.
The good thing is that they wont know how
clever you are. The bad thing is the same.

MERCY, MARTHA

December 2, 2008  :: 0 comments

Wind’s whirling, flakes walking,
stiff brown leaves marching like soldiers.
Is this the winter you imagined?
You grew up in the day when
children tobogganed down hills
or skated on frozen lakes
but you’re the only one here.
The world is indoors. Old people
sleep. Parents argue. Children
play video games, kill the
wind, flatten the flakes, mow
down the leaves with their weapons.
The real thing is forbidden.
You disobey, cheeks red, bones clattering,
a clump of wet snow in your fingers.

THE ART OF KISSING

December 1, 2008  :: 0 comments

a daub of sweat
like a silver freckle
on your nose

a tuft
of yellow hair
escaping its barrette

lips slightly
fluttering ajar
like a curtain
in light wind

a sudden dip
of a shoulder

a slight concentration
in one eye

and the tremble
of a blue water lily
in the other

all at the moment
I suddenly
put away
my looking

DEAR SIR OR MADAM

December 1, 2008  :: 0 comments

I write to an author
and tell him I’m an author.
I say I’ve read three of
your books so now it’s
time for you to read
one of my unpublished ones.
I love lovers don’t I
and they sure love back.
And whenever I’m on
foreign soil that foreign
soil gets onto me.
So, in the next mail,
expect a two hundred
page manuscript of
me reading you.
Sit back, enjoy,
the fruits of you
getting your stuff out there.
Just don’t steal my plot
for your next one.
Or, at least, not
until I steal it.

DRUNK ON LOVE

December 1, 2008  :: 0 comments

You haven’t been drunk
until you’ve stumbled, tumbled,
fallen into a snow bank,

2 a.m., January,
prone and laughing,
moon overhead,
full and yellow.

chill coming at you
from all directions
but the warmth in your gut
from all that whiskey
convincing you it’s
fighting back.

Haven’t loved either
until the same thing happens.
You drop down into
the drifts, stay there
like a snow carving.

There’s a grin on your face
like you’re showing that
full moon what a new moon
looks like.

And you’re taking in chill
from everywhere.
And the warm
can’t give it away.

NEWER THAN NEW DEVELOPMENT

December 1, 2008  :: 0 comments

another stretch of virgin woodland
bulldozed by developers

houses spring up
like weeds

Shady Acres
they call it

“For Sale” signs everywhere

what used to be
get it while it lasts

MY AFFAIR

December 1, 2008  :: 0 comments

Time clock, my lover,
coaxes me out of figures
into slender steel arms,
always an hour up there behind that face
to draw me nearer to the bliss of five o’clock,
to sweep me out of the legendary insistence
of balance sheets, of pie charts,
of memos from head office.
All day long I have spoken
to its cherubim: office chit-chat,
bubbling water coolers, the private phone-call, the bathroom sanctuary,
but now it tempts me with the real thing,
freedom deeper than a kiss,
and, no longer ashamed of our relationship,
this unwilling conscript drops his weapon,
that gregarious mouse, zaps his P.C,
watches the monthly report on stationery charges
pop like a thought balloon,
a perfect green likeness of my absence
filling the terminal in its place.
I elope with the roller-coaster ride
of my own laughter
in tray and out tray abandoned
like unlovely twins at a dance,
my cubicle’s cheap walls
shaking in the blessed fury of my rail-wind.
Down the corridor, past the guard-station,
until there, at the rim of the parking lot,
my body empties itself of
everything business mandates I should know,
gives birth to sunset beaming red and gold from
the midsize American car,
the gift of love my pay-check sends me.

SILENCE AT THE OTHER END

December 1, 2008  :: 0 comments

Phone rings. I answer.
No response. Someone’s there.
I can hear breath, background noise.
I string together some “hello”‘s,
a “what do you want.”
I don’t hang up. I take
the silence personally.
I need the contact. Anonymous
will have to do. Then I go quiet.
The mystery on the other end
continues. No crime by this.
Maybe the heart that has no way
to speak. Maybe the past, so lived
it can’t live any more.
Eventually, a faint click on
the other end. Dial tone.
I hold the phone, connected
now to nobody but me.
I listen to darkness, pain, despair.
The message is from everything,
anonymous excepted.