Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Medea's Other Child

A dozen years in seasons of days
sweeping light across the girl-child's

eyes unaccustomed to the night.
A kind of wisdom. (I dream of her

in the dark, my darkness, a stage.)
Slight, stooped, dusty, bare feet worrying

the roots of tumbleweeds and fruited bramble
growing in spurts, untended. Father

a conquering hero, liar and cheat,
gone for good. Mother spending time

waiting on men, waiting on tables
in a greasy cafe, the sorceress still,

dyed hair piled high as a crown upon
a furrowed brow. Passion spent in a rush

like the nouveau riche spend: all fleece and rubies.
In the end there's nothing for the kid

but spidery afternoons alone
imagining desire, throbbing

and hot as a black widow's bite,
consuming her flesh against her will.

originally published in Mississippi Valley Review, Spring 1994

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tahiti

Death's young, lush, smooth skinned, canny,
posed au naturel, cocoa belly
down on an improvised divan, eyes

rolled back to study Gauguin (who
flatters himself she's scared of him). Slapping
liverish paint to a faux

background, fantasy blooms
where the native truth would be: an endless
queue of stunted men,

shuffling forward, shifting dumbly
outside thatched huts infested with fleas.
Inside Death squirms, ever horny, flexing

moist pink lips as if he were a child,
slow to see where to fix his bristling
prick, bury Art, take his pleasure now.

originally published in the G.W. Review, spring 1999

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gone

1.
You disappear so beautifully.
Eyes wide, perfectly aligned,

as if you could see, as if
Matisse's joy

might be happiness...the azure/
pumpkin/scarlet fields set

lightly inside his penciled outline.

The main star shines, no glare.
And it's possible that

somewhere less frantic
charged particles

rest before they exit.

2.
But blonde light, like a starlet's
hair, sweeps all things

equally: calamity rests,
fallow in the field.

And the north-bred yearling hawk

looms motionless, like a stuffed
& mounted version of himself.

Watching. Shadowless. Red eyes wide
& perfectly aligned. And then,

when it's time, he just disappears.

originally published in the Minnetonka Review

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Stranger

Consider life's billion anxious
gulps of oxygen, smog porridge
sucked ad nauseam. If a wily

Camus invites us to agree
that Sisyphus is happy, I'm
satisfied to dream Camus'

Algeria: super-heated sands
hemming the Mediterranean,
and a raucous newborn

gleaming with slime, a just-plucked
shell held high into the sun. Her
nomad-father's rutted palms

obliterate all light, his desert-
dimmed eyes squinting to find
stripes, moles, stigma, signs-

imperfections to justify
a drowning. No surprise. Just too few
dried figs, no gods or fires

driving them forward, into the sea,
ancient terrors, shallow waters
heaving salt, fish, history.

originally published in The Brownstone Review No. 5

Bridge

I know your arms & legs are cold.
In November the river shifts

slowly, silver ghost of its body
barely stirred, ice already forming.

And today, midday, I heard you moan.
Grinding bones of a steel-strapped frame.

As if you had moved, or tried to.
As if the surging light was painful.

originally published by the Toledo Review

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dune Rose

It's the name of a lipstick I wear
most days, proving
poetry's indomitable, ingrained, like the Namer

herself, wrestling thousands of new
untitled tubes- scarlets,
magentas, blue-reds, browns- but none

a gash, none a wound, no blood,
nothing wilted.
Stumbling cylinder to cylinder,

knowing full well what these balms
mean to a woman
dogging beauty.

Then at night, alone, aged skin
phosphorescent & furrowed
as a moon, she tends garden.

Pruning, shaping, watering
roots she planted in sand,
watering the sand.

originally published in New Zoo Poetry Review Volume 5

Freud's Bowery

The artist means to take control: ribboning linen,
preening paint (ochre, ebon, gold!), laying
light in oily waves to an image

he creates: one absurdly out-sized, nude,
hairless man, mounded bellies hung over dancer's gams,
long mauve penis ripening with blood

while eyes once lost in a sea of fat and skin
press forward to command, first the painter,
then those who stand in the gallery gaping.

originally published in Threepenny Review 73