A Complicated Feast

I ate dinner at midnight

My midnight lover ate dinner with me. I threw a kiss at him across the table

His kiss flew across the table, dinner now bones and gristle. I ate the kiss. My lover bled midnight from his eyes, threw moonlight from his mouth. Meet me tonight under the gaslight he sang.

Moonlight and gaslight flew all the same to me. I threw his midnight back across the table. A cave like a maw called to me. My mouth bled bones and a kiss from my lover’s eyes. We ate gristle for dinner tonight and are sated, filled up with twilight banter and the melody of nightjars pickled white. At the end is only desert and dry eggs.

The desert eats bones and gristle. Each cave echos a moonish tune.

~

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I’ll Give You What For

howls my mother frown and furrow

spiked finger points a painted claw

something to cry about she mutters

stutter and howl, crybaby

boy crazy lazy

good thing you are smart

since you uglier than a miser’s heart

she smirks hands slappy

no mama I teeter tremble totter

no mama flee to my closet

bury in comic books in the dark

mother dancing out the hallways scratching

at walls

I come out for dinner daddy’s home

mama smiles eyeteeth like daggers.

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Going to the Store

looked in the cupboard and nothing there but a few mangy cans of maybe peas, nobody eats canned peas, so I put on my walking boots headed to the super Doppler effect market, moving faster than the speed of sound, around 300 feets per moment, not sure about centigrade, so set out and Izzy came along for canned mouse she’s not picky, ran into her pals and her enemies too all along the route, dead elms shading us from the sun in their skeletal fashion, me and Izzy skipping along, run into our next door neighbor, Paws the Siamese, Izzy don’t like him, but I say, hey Paws, want to go grocery shopping with us, Paws says surely I do, I don’t, I do and gallops along, weaving in and out between me and Izzy in a most annoying way and when we get to the outskirts of town we run into my cousin Jackanapes longhair Persian kinda guy, all whiskers and fur and purr if you know what I mean, he falls right in with us, we are some fucking parade I think, and we march right into the store, proud we seem, hungry we are, nobody’s around but us and the shelves are bare, well laundry detergent is stacked high and there are plenty of beans but the tuna fish aisle is like a desert and the milk department is blank as the moon of Jupiter, barren, barely breathing.

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Summer Camp

Who is that girl with butchered hair? She falls off the bulletin board like a stick figure, used to be magic but now is forlorn.

Hunger is my middle name.

Look at me on the playing field.

The ball is coming my way, high and fast rocketing to right field where I am studying a dandelion up close.

Look into the mirror Miss Four Eyes.

Where is your hair?

My name is Alice and my husbands name is Alex, we live in Appalachia and we eat apples.

My hair is short because the camp barber lacks finesse.

I got a parcel of salami and pistachio nuts dyed red and rye bread with caraway seeds. The food at camp is poison.

My bunkmate asks for a slice of salami and I am afraid to say no. She will bite me with her big teeth.

I run to the forest clutching my package. No, I don’t.

I make an ashtray during Arts and Crafts. What is it? my mother asks.

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Traveling Man

My love is on the move today having motored to the station and situated himself in a bus equipped with air conditioning and multiple baglets of salty pretzels, driven by an eminent expert chauffeur who will transport passengers to Boston, city of patriots and many hospitals, because one particular hospital is the reason the love of my life is traveling today, and when he arrives after many hours at the Boston terminal, South Station, a huge cavernous monument of an edifice which smothers several city blocks, he will snatch up his suitcase, put away his paperback and telephone and earphones and whatever else he has taken out on the interminable ride, pack it all away, crumple up empty cellophane, stand and shuffle to the exit, step down the stairs into the depot, and then make his way through the terminal breathing the smoggy coolish air of downtown Boston, stand a minute and stomp his feet to get shaky bearings, acquiring his sea legs during a round-the-world steamship journey, and then start walking to his hotel located a very long way away, but fortuitously situated next to the doctor’s office where he is expected the next morning, so that his eyes which are poorly sometimes and could get worse if he is careless, so his eyes can be checked and measured and drops inserted until the light of a single candle feels like a strobe blasting away, that’s how sensitive his eyes become after the medication is trickled into his eyeballs and he must wink away tears for half an hour, anyway he has to trudge an hour across Boston to get to his hole-in-the-wall hotel, where he will find he has no hot water but he will shower with cold water because he doesn’t really care, of course if I was there I would call the front desk and complain but he doesn’t, he just takes a cold shower and enjoys it, then wraps himself in a shabby towel and calls me to say he is fine, he is clean and cooled off after his interminable walk and missing me and longs for the life we used to lead six hours ago which makes me laugh, since he is sentimental and I am hard-boiled.

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Cat + Rain

It rained that day, gray frayed and green

While Cat slept on a cushioned chair

Wind drove against the window screen

I walked the beach, wet face & hair

———————

While Cat slept on a cushioned chair

The rain drummed dark against the roof

I walked the beach wet face & hair

Cat looked at me all bland aloof

——————

Rain drummed dark against the roof

Drowning sound of shouting gulls

Cat looked at me all bland aloof

Cat and me, rejects and culls.

——————

Drowning sound of shouting gull

Wind drove against the window screen

Cat and me reject and cull

It rained that day gray frayed and green

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Izzy Tries to Remember

fox & wolf & tiger & pants

on fire, she can’t recall

each blurred section

Who stopped the forest?

Who plucked her strings on Sixth Avenue?

A violinist lives on the sidewalk under plastic

household a shopping cart

stomping men with briefcases eddy

around him.

I saw Izzy pounce

through the trees — leaves stuck to her paws

me rambling behind full of shouts

twigs and flowers and grass and brambles

stuck to my lips

where I had once kissed her — we listen

as the man plays in a courtyard

and fragments of meadow shelter

us. I can’t find Izzy and neither can anyone else.

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Just Between Us

I am good at memory

whispering poems my mother learned

by heart in her orphan home — taps

upon the stage in stiff starched dress

while benefactors swamp the seats

& she recites with apt dramatic

gestures the story of a boy destroyed by flame

waiting for his papa on the burning main

a fearsome tearjerker

& folks clap — eyes glistening, run

to choose among the mingy waifs

& perhaps that baby whose mama

passed in childbirth and papa of tb

— so sad too bad — my mother aged

out at 15 & later when I knew

her out of life having in between bequeathed

me the knife-like secret of poems

rife with dramatic gestures,

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Guidebook to Loving Me”

[Prologue] I am uncomplicated, my instructions

written in invisible ink also useful for wrinkles

in the dark use a flashlight

[Rule one] tell me I am funny and smart

and beautiful

repeat every half hour

set your alarm

[Rule two] tell me you love me

alternate that with the other stuff

[Rule three] buy me a Mercedes.

—————–

I wanted a Mercedes ever since my father

bought one & let me drive him to the hospital

it was a cream puff

——————

I keep this guide in the glovebox of my Mercedes

safe but accessible in case

you get hungry.

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Higher Education

we were dizzy with spirit

rejoiced among like minds

all of us, hundreds

sequestered in a mountaintop ghost

hotel once refuge for city folks

who summered far from sidewalks

now a college brimmed with

philosophy junkies

shot with heroin

old timers would be shocked to see us

slouched against Victorian pillars

and daffodil moldings

stately porticos swarmed

with long haired boys playing guitars

sweep skirted girls dancing down corridors

and me with a baby in my arms searching

for respite

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