Cul de Sac
bowl of cereal floats the rooms of a white house
red hibiscus shrouds the mailbox.
keeper of the bowl squints to the mirror, sighs,
his necktie, crimping an over zealous knot.
The woman with the vast
spreading tree stopped sleeping days ago.
barks because it is Friday, and in the pond
the Spanish style house, those koi fish swim.
have no choice, but they seem happy
the light that dances from so many leaves.
She sits in the leather
armchair, eyes fixed on the white blinds.
best wishes, vehicles slide quietly in reverse from
driveways! , leaving resentment or desire at their porches.
women pair that love each other, appear from the red brick house
obedient dogs once the hurly burly’s done.
fuzz the quiet of the cul-de-sac as they tame their evergreen lawn,
edge it and gloss it mint fresh with a sprinkler.
Strips of light, bleach her
Squirrels and! cicadas seem to hold their breath until the sun warms
them to explore trunks and branches, tell the world
is too hot to talk except to warn of lazy cats cooking
the cycads and gingers, joyously ignorant of the young man
lives in the deep shade with his half shaved yard,
half-shaved freckled face that wakes to a hangover
soft wheels of the mail van, slipping secretly past the house
toilet rolled last month.
The woman on the television
explains how to transform a coffin with collage.
like bandits, three men with mowers and blowers
long blades of grass from the lawn that struggles
the dark cover of a southern magnolia.
leave with their booty, unchallenged.
still as a mountain lake then.
ticks somewhere, to the rhythm of one or two beating hearts.
She couldn’t keep up. She
gave up tapping time - days ago.
The Precarious Nature of Happiness
sired Florence, a headstrong girl with lips too often down-turned, for
she rued the day she showed her back to wise advice, wedded a petty
thief with a rodent face who fathered her only son Robert. He hugged the
bare walls of an orphanage and scratched the skirting like a mouse, for
his mother was murdered; his father hanged for it, and Robert vowed to
snatch life wherever he may grab at it.
war took him to France, but before his high cheekbones, green bones,
were shattered by the blunt edges of shrapnel, he came to face Yvette.
In the time it took a blackbird to sing a favorite aria, Robert made her
Sylvie – all softness, genteel smiles, and mother’s
smart eyes. She skipped
well-laid mines of sadness; flowered in a potpourri, oak floored Paris
home before it all started anew.
of first love reshaped her smile, dulled the sparkle, stole a little of
her softness before she felt the cold spine of night’s penetration.
Invading rapists, foreign insects with cricket leg jeers sowed seed that
like the memories could not be washed away. In the midst of war she gave
in the rare calm of a rain-soaked November night.
did that – Sylvie who never joined with man again.
loved, half enemy son, grew his hair when he was twenty, cut it when he
was twenty one, shipped his soul to Quebec, met and loved and loved
again until a slim likeness of his mother hooked his heart. With open
smiles he watched Marie (his wife) grow …
Kimberley whom they raised in the budding comfort of a
land brightened by
snow and summer peace. She went to study in the fullness of time,
English in England, met an English man from an old English town where a
hundred and twenty four years before, William sired poor fated Nancy who
rued her day with down-turned lips.
have to look away to make marks.
Hold that thought,
I say, drag and drop.
hair is neater than expected.
silver is overlaid with gold in the bathroom light.
see it speaking to me from the lined page
I make these words – clippings.
different they were at the time when I folded
strands into a clear plastic bag.
seventeen, eighteen, my hair still smooth,
brown as wood charred and burnished.
were sharper then as well.
Younger lips dealt dogma like logs spitting in a fire,
insisting that you take notice.
Cutting the hair; one attempt to sever the long tail of youth.
failed of course, and as I stand before a mirror
reflecting softened muscles, layered with skin
by the sun from a hundred angles,
eyes that are weak, eroded by a river of history
teeth shaped by countless festivals of passing food,
infant soul in me yearns to laugh like a boy.
creature yet unseen,
casually from rhythmic arcs
tail the size of a small iceberg
depths, dark as crude oil.
impervious to loneliness you must be
soft-fleshed oily death stink
abeyance while you gather detritus,
tumbling dead, manner in the deep brine.
thoughts must drop like snow flakes
drift from nowhere to nowhere else.
suck of rotted life enough,
your journeys from ocean to ocean
for familiar face?
you call in your incessant void.
deeper than the sea
blue layers, epipelagic,
the soul of another quiet behemoth,
into those empty quarters of cartilage
pink flesh, waiting.
There’s nothing left of the skin that was cleansed of birth mucus.
rubbed it away with soap-scented towels.
grandmother scrubbed the skull free of all malefic germs
king in the shadows behind each ear.
school, skins clashed, some freckled with rust, others bone-white,
brown; stranger to a kiss than an old aunt’s cheek.
knees were scuffed white and bloody on the hard road.
small palms hit grit - bled drops from torn lifelines.
wondrous purple in a fruit colored bruise,
red if you held your breath and squeezed.
arm grazed another,
wing touch that bent mellifluous down.
smooth glide awakened senses stored and ready
evoke imaginings never more ignored.
name was branded to the back of a wrist;
ink cursive scrawl within an imperfect heart,
had to be broken once or twice.
Knuckles mashed those lips, not kisses,
cursed days where the stinging tear from glass or blade,
seared circle stolen by a bullet,
the guilty burn of cuffs behind your back,
time to think before you renewed yourself,
life to a fresh wrapped soul
worshipped your marks and scars,
on your map of years, on skin that faded,
its shine like slipping peppers or pears.