Dreaming of Tuesday’s Parties

Dreaming of Tuesday’s

parties, glorious rippling

colors, all manner of

food and gaiety, strangers with

strange stories, big ridiculous hats,

cacophony of singing,

and drunkenness, lots of it

spinning, hours disappearing

under the weight of the night

and slow dancing whispers,

all versions of us

unwilling to believe in a

dawning Wednesday.

Steady as we prayed

Over lunch, a mantis settled for my Stella de Oro day lilies in the
blazing west sun on my roof deck in Baltimore. A capricious whim,
or calculated move – its motivation irrelevant. To the immediate south,
basil sage perfume, and wild-eyed purple petunia. Air conditioners
hummed mildly for the mantis on a deepening yellow bloom and
just as motionless as a cat perched two roofs away. I watched, captivated.
I willed the insect to move. Electricity rushed the wires. A car door closed.
Wind rustled pollen loose as a police helicopter
charged us to the east. Not one spindly leg twitched.  I looked up.

– a liminal space, a sudden tumblingwhirring cacophony of
skin
and privilege
and good blocks
and protection, and
murder and
bad blocks and
fear and
and grief and so much grief –

Then looked down. Mantis had moved while the rotor blades roared.
It perched upside down mindful, head bowed,
tiny insect arms set in prayer. Steady as the sirens followed
like clockwork. Steady as we thought of our neighbors, knowing not a single one.

 

Written 7/11/16

Arnold (reaching full sail)

I wonder how Arnold feels
on the Canton docks, drying his skin
after a windy cold winter.

He will be under a new moon tonight
streets lit up with
city haze alone.
He will be under the awning of Safeway
sketchbook clutched in one hand,
bottle in the other.

“Maybe,” he says, “if I hadn’t been drunk that day
I would have met Oprah before
she moved to Chicago and I could call her now
as a friend.”

The harbor sways up to comment
but only trash reaches the dock. Far beyond,
other peoples’ boats reach full sail
into the Bay.

Ripples (i dreamt i saw you drown)

she shook him hard in his blankets
“i was dreaming –
i saw you drown”
she breathed hard, continued,

“the haze blurred
our overgrown backyard
the humidity oppressing
the few purple wildflowers and
the strange cat beneath the willow
we walked to the river.
you yelled for a swim but i couldn’t–
leaving fast for the fire
burning our old family photographs
our memories, our life,
so i blew out the flames and
i … i couldn’t see you
the sky was thundering dark
the waves devoured the shore
it was then i saw your eyes
you didn’t smile as you sank –
i was trapped on the shore – then i woke.
i… i had to tell you.”

she took a deep breath, waiting
but he had rolled over
snoring waves beneath ripples of
a blue-green quilt.

[circa 2002, maybe]

rag n bone man

i wear a sign
free to a good home
out for the rag n bone man
Mr. Barney
modern in a rolling van

[author’s note:  friend has told me the rag n bone man Mr. Barney still rides in her town, except now he walks beside a rolling van….]

Zeus

he baits
a vulpine’s trap
with flexed bronzed
arms in clothing torn
his romantic
poverty in thick rough hands
liberal on my thighs
his predilection a
whispered ancient cry–
make love to me

if i say no,
he thunders
with a searing pernicious
desire —
he is not my handsome farmer
but instead immortal
desperate for one small glimpse
of my delicious joy —
sweat sweet color till
dirt grit between my teeth.

the art of waving goodbye

he looked at her like she was the most beautiful
woman, spotlighted inspiration,
but when she caught him
he looked away fast, averting,

it was then
she pressed her hand
forcefully through air
determined,
long fingers straining for
that fine art of
waving goodbye,
pressed her hand
and let it stain the air
strain the silence of an unspoken
conversation
that always ended so
abruptly… suddenly…

an accidental spill of ammonia and bleach

just when your
guard goes down
when you know that
incredible happiness
the sun looks
brighter
your laugh more
contagious, when
fellas smack your
back and say
“brother,
you are untouchable”

that’s when
a careless mistake
an invisible vapor
drifts undetected
into your lungs
and that tender life
constricts with awareness
and your ground
is actually air
and when you look down
it’s over

to pay attention is
the lesson my brother
pay attention.