Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nothing like the Smell of Napalm in the Morning

Nothing like the smell of Napalm in the Morning

Ceila’s closet. Home to moth-balls
and stirrup pants in blue
and magenta and gold—

Not cerulean. But most
importantly. Home to
her Skinny Jeans. Perhaps

the most trying piece in
a girl’s wardrobe. A piece
that requires diets that

inspires dreams of glamour
and romance. Skinny Jeans,
You are my Everest.

Mind over Mud

Lilting and lovely the music poured forth
From the instruments, from the mouths of the performers
And standing there, beneath a starless sky
I created my own Oasis and drank up the gush of sound

The notes whispered promises in my ears
They curled around my body to remind me of things I once had understood
And with their caress still fresh upon my face
I tilted back my head to embrace the temptation of letting go

I thought back to the nights that
Like the fireworks that exploded with their red, white, and blue
We quenched our thirst with rocket popsicles
And licked the melted remains from our sticky fingers

So I danced on and wrapped my arms around myself
And cast away for another set of summer nights
And sought to forget how the camp fire had reflected in your eyes
And how the smell of smoke had lingered on my sweater for weeks

Little children curled up in their parents arms
And dreamt of things deemed impossible by Reason and Experience
While their parents sat around in circles
Talking of “once weres” and “long agos”

Lilting and lovely the music poured forth
While bare feet pounded flat the dark earth
And the sky threatened to open up upon the crowd
And there in my Oasis, I tried to erase you

Sanity is in the Eye of the Beholder

You told me once I would never be alone
the same place I had first kissed you.
We were on our backs, stretched out on the grass arms splayed
fingertips almost touching

That night, I didn’t want to remember
how your hands would turn blue when it was cold
outside; I wanted us to succeed in
friendship where we had failed in romance

Underneath a spatter-painted sky
I watched you breathe, flannel breasted chest slowly rising
and I escaped from the sound of my father yelling
and you reminded me of how
I had once saved an ant from drowning

The grass was damp, kissed with dew
the park was deserted as it was so many of our nights
and the river rushed on,
tumbling when it had been still

When I tell our story,
I’ll blame the stars for their false luminescence
and cast myself in a better light,

but that night,
I believed you
because I needed to that night

Midnight Pumpkin

Midnight Pumpkins

Tweed woven rug splayed across the floor
like a frog ripe for dissection,
fragile heart beating under translucent skin,
clad in cloven combat boots.

Foreheads plowed in swiggly rows of
alternating trenches, alight upon
black-bean eyes. “It’s harvest time
my dear, and it’s not looking good.”

But she clomps on, grasping for the carrot at
the end of the hedonic treadmill,
adapting to three dollar long islands and
leaving a trail of lip-stick smudges like breadcrumbs

to follow back to gingerbread houses and
the warm, sweet sight of welcome mats and
the look on her mother’s face when she brought home
crayon-colored tales of happily ever after.

A pity though—the doorbell’s wrung
and it was the milkman not Prince Charming
while the fluorescent lighting reveals a dance
floor swathed in strewn cigarettes

where the clock has already struck midnight.

Now all she can do is stay in of Friday night and smile
while the townspeople grab their pitchforks and
start setting up the noose. Because,

as her daughter told her,
“It’s a Tuesday and everyone knows you’re supposed to wear pink.”

Driving by Braille

Driving by Braille

The CB crackles as a voice pipes through on the airwaves
“teenage girl”… “Mercedes”… “the makeup applicator went straight through her eye”…
shards of information filter through like brewing coffee

broken fragments piece themselves together, a puzzle
Percolating, drip by drip. She probably spent her mornings
flipping through the funnies, pausing at the classifieds

Straight, single, responsible mother in her early forties
Seeking someone to spend lazy Saturdays with
Enjoys bottles of raspberry ice wine

Hands clench the steering wheel, white-
knuckled and smoke stained, flipping stubs of cigarettes
onto the highway. You would have given it all up for them.

There could have been a little girl, all bright
eyed, bouncing curls, pudgy fingers, skinned knees
the television blaring the food network which

your wife would claim is the word of God himself
“Alton Brown, now that’s a man I would run away with”
she would sigh, and you would have laughed, while your

Fingers hold a chipped ceramic mug instead of a steering wheel,
a Cigarette. The road stretches forward, a treadmill to Ohio,
and you drive by the Braille of the road, rumble strips pointing the way

Lids hanging low, drooping like sun smothered plants
and there is no TV, no little girl, no loving wife
but at least you drive an 18-wheeler instead of a Mercedes

Thank God for small favors.

Q and A

Q and A

“Because relationships are a series of compromises
and my life is a series of relationships
and sometimes I don't feel like compromising"

She said, when asked why she went to the movies alone.
I pictured her sitting solitary in the yawning maw of a theater
Huddled in on herself and swathed in lint-adorned hoodies,
presiding over a kingdom of Frescatta pizza and hot cheesy nachos

“But why wouldn’t you want me to come with you?”
I asked. Words tumbling in on themselves like puppies scrambling for the teat.
Supple, soft, and clumsy.

My palms itched, provoked by grass blades and claimed by conquistadoring ants
and I wished right then that I had remembered deodorant that morning,
as I shifted and rearranged to pick at the scab on my left knee.

She sighed, clenching and unclenching her fist
Leaving half-mooned trenches in her palms
And I was surprised when I had to squint to see the scars
That had once danced like Puckish rogues across her wrists

“Can’t we just enjoy the night?” she said,
eyes already roving, smoke synchronized swimming through
the Autumn air, being born from cherry-red embers
that hung suspended from her lips.

Meanwhile the moon, swollen and golden pregnant,
battled for possession of the sky
And we sat, Converses swinging, taking bets.