His dented brow in the black-orange light
turned me inward.
He explained a fall down an apartment staircase,
a scarf that staunched the bleeding,
a mother holding vigil by his hospital bed.
His lips, two pink parentheses, framed, “I’m not sorry about it,”
and he gazed into his drink with a cock-eyed furrow.
Lifted, I uncrossed my arms and spoke of my own lost footing,
no longer clinging to the deceptive railings
that’ve kept me upright for so long.
“I wish that’d happened to me,” I even said,
though it came out as insensitive and naïve.
I wish I had a scar to show
for my own impaired sense of direction.
Things tumble down, but we tumbled out, there,
swathed by barroom chatter and our tall-back booth.
I traced my forefinger over his jagged scar, his dimpled temple,
and recognized the heat, the pulse of letting go.
(This is a contrapuntal poem, so read rows from left to right then columns.)
Before you work we cook the sunny side
and I come in to
groove morning Motown barefoot
together (this is “Gypsy Woman” soul)
Let’s live playing Let’s
spoon sugar in the wake
Honey bunch let’s back up
and savor home again
Forget days like tomorrow
You can go your own way,
but when I go absent-mindedly
against that pesky one-way
at the end of N. State Street,
coffee cravings fall to the wayside
and I’m orb-eyed and snorting,
an insubordinate, spirited filly.
I should’ve seen the signs,
or had a second thought at the lack
of forward-facing stoplights,
but instead I sang distractedly
to Joni’s Mitchell’s Amelia,
(“Until you get there yourself,
You never really know,”)
and challenged the yellow lines,
ripping their reins away.
As if some gate were lifted,
I sprint beyond the eddies of oxytocin,
the vales of mom jeans and Aerostar minivans.
Yet nurture strong-arms my nature,
And like whip to flesh,
Beside an SUV I lock eyes
With a pig-tailed girl writing poems
in window condensation,
her finger scribbling like a compass needle.
I fear the pull of this arterial is stronger than
she knows, that her poems will be lost to
doodled dream houses and baby names,
the longer she follows this supposed one-way.
Sun teased in its last copper hour,
a keyhole in a red oak door,
revealing a room
where night wears nothing,
but black tresses
and dabs of rose water.
She whispers to her vanity
in the hush of self-solace
and fingers the latch to a
strand of marquise
She’s captive of a masquerade
chaperoned by a hourglass;
tepid as a forgotten bath,
a cigarette burn
on naked flesh.
Follow this link to read: http://egjournal.org/issue/fall-2013/article/rainy-day-woman/
Through the windshield the stars
are huge, distorted asterisks,
while my hands trace the steering wheel,
and my mouth cinches tight.
Tears mark my thighs like–
and I go through my universe
I was lost,
but I am found here,
on the hood of my Honda,
empty warmth at my back,
and infinity overhead.
The night is beautiful
despite your absence,
to say that it needs you to be so
wouldn’t be love,
but to say that your absence is felt,
despite the beauty before me,
I turn over sickly, hum in agony,
until the jagged edges of life’s key
click into the ignition,
catch and push me forward
down this far-stretching shadow of road.