Monday, August 27, 2012
~This poem previously appeared in Folio (2001)
At Ecco-la, my husband orders a bottle
of Louis Jadot chardonnay. While he studies
the menu, I glance across the room. A young
couple waits at the bar, drinking
beer. The guy leans over and kisses his girl,
a short sweet kiss, like an hors d'oeuvre,
then a long kiss, their arms wrapped
around each other, his fingers caught
in the strands of her hair. My husband and I
debate appetizers and entrees. They feast
on each other. By the time the waiter returns
to take our orders, I'm practically starving.
Soon he sets before me a plate
of scallops, shrimp, and arugula, tossed
in scampi sauce, and nestled on a bed
of linguini. They're kissing again. She nestles
her head against his chest. He strokes
the skin of her arm. I pop a scallop
into my mouth, savor the succulent flesh, then fork
a shrimp, pass it to my husband. He offers a bite
of portobello mushroom stuffed
with king crab, seasoned with herbs and a hint
of lemon. We consume and consume.
Across the room an ear is nibbled,
cheeks and neck devoured. I beg my husband
for dessert. He holds up his hand to say
he's had enough for one night. I seduce him
into chocolate mousse pie with a layer
of meringue, order charlotte russe for myself.
With the recklessness of Sybarites,
we fill our mouths with ladyfingers, whipped cream,
and chocolate curls. Nothing, nothing ever tasted
this good. As the couple is led to their table,
my husband and I head for home, still licking
our lips, our tongues searching for crumbs.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
~This poem previously appeared in West Branch (1990)
ALL SOULS' DAY
Say November woods.
Say the colors of earth: ocher, sienna, umber,
a hearth where the fire's gone out.
Wind scours trees to their bones.
A chevron of geese cuts a wedge in the sky.
Imagine a hawk the color of winter.
On the day of the dead, he seeks a thermal
and soars. The dead rise, too,
will-o-the-wisps of mist & haze,
tobacco smoke from Indian pipes,
the plumes of tall grasses.
They are always with us,
tangible as breath,
fill the interstices of then and now.
In the November woods, cold air
settles like a blanket.
The sky tucks itself in.
Everywhere, the silence of all the folded wings.
Monday, August 13, 2012
~This story originally appeared in Whetstone (1993).
Put a telescope to your eye and the world is your oyster. Nebulae descend, asteroids unravel, and the moon becomes your neighbor. But look through a microscope and your luck might not run true. Nematodes become the stuff of horror films. The midge becomes mighty. Glancing thoughts become obsessions. Eons of continental drift become your own personal inability to walk a straight line. Latitude and longitude are no longer harmless theoretical scratches, but your interior landscape that could satiate and surpass a lifetime of questions.
Nigel barely pondered questions of scale. Caught in the Niagara of sensation, the Scylla and Charybdis of detail, he rode out the tide and thought little about consequences.
Living with Fiona and her three brats was a consequence. The last time Nigel got better, he'd looked for new lodgings and ended up at Fiona's, where his position quickly matured from indifferent boarder to brother, and finally, to boyfriend. He knew he had a certain intensity that women found briefly intriguing, although usually it ended up wearing them down, just as it did him. When he’d first moved in, Fiona told him he had a mystique about him, the aura of the driven. But the brief weightlessness of love was no match for the gravitational pull of drugs, doctors, and dementia.
Fiona's house was only a few blocks away from his studio, so the disadvantage of the children was outweighed by the savings in time and transportation. He worked odd hours, but Fiona was a true-blue insomniac, so that frequently dawn found them huddled over beverages in the kitchen, the oatmeal for the babes simmering on the stove. When the kiddies came down for breakfast, Nigel was usually on his way to bed. Fiona cast off into another day of bombarding the children with love and admonitions, bamboozling the boarders into thinking this was the place of their dreams so she could use the full house to pay the mortgage for one more month, and trying to ward off the fatigue that always dogged her just until she gave in, when it persistently refused to translate into sleep. So while Nigel worked himself into a frenzy, had a chat and a cup of tea, then stumbled off to bed, Fiona wallowed in hours of exhausted wakefulness, a bland balance struck between consciousness and death.
Monday, August 6, 2012
~This poem previously appeared in The James Dickey Review (2011)
POLE DANCING ON THE AXIS MUNDI
Pole dancing on the axis mundi
Clad in air and a veil of hair,
Kali is any one and everywhere
interrogating history, prophecy,
testimony and will, cracking abstracts--
from pressure of her inquiry,
fissures snake slivers in frozen
now gushing gunmetal waters.
She dips a skull cup and drinks.
She, too, could be a girl at the shoal,
Skipping stones, pressing a coconut cheek
And salty ear to hear woes
wafting from blankets—complaints
about Eros followed by platitudes, dates
for squash or a glass of merlot.