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
and good blocks
and protection, and
bad blocks 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.
White flowers floating on their faces
in a green-scaled harbor, they are
searching for a bottom they’ll never find.
Fish them out with childish hands
leave to dry on a scorching brick walk,
their petals disintegrated but volant.
You, girl, are preoccupied
with the way heat from an afternoon sidewalk
steams your bare thighs. You let
thunder bang around in the empty
cavity of your day-dreamin mind.
Forget what they sold you.
Love is not a hot dress, a polished spoon,
a bleak expectation,
It is a moment you’ll never own;
a long-awaited rain slipping into dirt,
or how you can silently lean
into a Miles Davis’ horn
sounding a single humid and final note.
i want to be with the summer people
those girls with tangled salted hair
and men with shoulders tanned
want to sit among them with my
brine of loneliness, raise my
head to see the whole troupe crashing
naked toward the tides, moonlight
drenching – one man coming back…
sorry – had some technical difficulties last night….
summer wind teases
lightly flirts, pirouettes,
snaps lightning in time.
and the city
becomes immersed in
a heat that
steams hair to curls
settles in with
a grumpy old man
to oppressive air
with a crackle.
is the heat; it
wraps my shoulders
like a shawl knit
by white-haired women
who in their circle
hum with soft
and the air conditioners
chirp in with a
whirr of understanding.
all it takes:
one soft ocean wave
one swift approaching storm
one sandy toe
one face leaned back
those dark brown eyes
one quick glance
one wrong word
one minute alone
flutter of the belly
is enough to…
red white blue crowds swell
down the boardwalk
firework finale booms over
my toes sandy on a balcony
with humid Patriotism.