Play with the scenery
I’ve been praying, says Eliza
as she rises from the sun-drenched steps,
smoothing all those wrinkles from her skirt
with unlined hands,
both white and trembling.
Then you’re a fool, says Jonathan
coming up the walkway, stepping
loudly from one cobblestone to another,
always in a hurry,
ignoring the morning bloom of
red and violet summer flowers
framing the lawn like the the gilded edges
of any Victorian portrait.
Age of Innocence
Something about us seems damned—
to repeat myself, walk half a city block
and scream at traffic, pedestrian
crossings line up so parallel, so perfect,
all meanderings dismissed to other times,
in other places where grass grows up
between old wheel ruts, wrought iron gates
unlocked and secret doors cracked open.
I wish it would storm,
pounding rain against the pavement and
lightning white hot and sprawling across
a mid-summer sky. The ground
is parched and so am I.
I’m thirsty for violence of a natural kind,
a howling wind against these brick walls,
a clap of thunder overhead. Hail and snow
and rain at once; it’s not omens or signs
I’m seeking, just a passionate declaration
that rocks my very soul.
La Nuit Venait
The weather is a red herring.
Don’t be fooled by white-washed windows—
when the lights go out, you’ll know.
Clutter in the darkness, subway
ticket stub says pearly gates
built a bridge from froth and foam
city bogs are muddied trash cans
country dates are raisins too
acid face on marble statues, tacky
test a polar ice cap, Regents math,
French phonetics. Cost of oil by
Book of Judith
This is no book of happy endings. All
unresolved cliffhangers and bitter diatribes.
Jonathan Swift has nothing on me and as
one generation passes, one generation rises.
Always unsteady, they run headlong to death and
Here I stand, daughter of the king of the world,
speechless, head in my hands.
His head in my hands.
There are only so many mountain songs,
only so many honeyed words. We’ve used them up,
the air is stale with milk curdling humidity,
yellow-white algae down deep in our lungs
and we choke on every swallow.
The ocean recedes, the sun (the holy ghost)
conspires against us. I can only play
for so long and then
forgetting myself, stumble on a word or two and
incite a rage that burns us up like wildfire.
Girls Night (Try Not to Break Anything)
Pretty little maids all in a row
throw a winter garden party
and the brides-to-be wear white
displaying fist-sized rocks
beneath blinding spotlights
which is a poor choice
given the scenery
and the ladies-in-waiting try not to cry,
when pressed they say (this is nearly universal)
that they’d rather die
if they must return to cold little pallets
and another hand of solitaire
but proto-feminists all,
shrug it off with irony.
The Seven Year Itch
Four score and let me at ‘em
nobody lies like a man “in love”
with country, eye candy and the cosmos
I swear you and I
are gonna talk this out
like pots and pans
loud and making a mess
and heaven forbid you help
with the dishes
too tired from life
and all ready for bed.
This plague sinks deep within bone and
leaves us as chilled straight through
as tree limbs shorn bare by a gale force wind
blown down from icy mountains and snow clad firmaments.
My fingers aching against a worrisome thing;
my hands wrung out against a host of freshly-made
and ill-fated discoveries.
This mourning dove day molts towards evening.
Now anticipation makes a sorry companion
as we sit and dine without a word between us
brother and sister of the same spirit no longer,
newly orphaned and bastard children both.
You, an atheist. And I, a cynic.
Glorious tomorrows make for
and the hours drag on
as you await the procession,
hands clasped tightly together,
lips pressed for prudence,
each shout swallowed back
for the sake of not jinxing
hope like a single bud on a bough.