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Archive for the ‘Poems’ Category

noroton privateWhen you finally return,

To that old place—

The musky salt smell of low tide floods back,

In a flush memory.

You did not notice it, when you lived there.

 

Twenty five years.

Then the rest you forgot.

 

Green lawns lush, perfect shag carpet—

Shrubs carved into false spires

Obscene roses and florescent hydrangeas

Curated into some artificial, perfect world.

Expensive and unreal.

 

Ten cars cluster round the neighbor’s house.

 

I never knew the man.

He was 40, three small children,

Pretty blonde wife.

Then the Saturday run, then the heart attack.

 

But the joggers still jog,

Mothers still push blonde children to the beach in red wagons,

In a slow rush, a cadence to the sea.

 

A midsummer party,

Florid balloons wafting in the stiff air.

 

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dolls house2

-after Henrik Ibsen

 

You are a child, Nora.

 

Did it amuse you to see me dancing about,

Dressing up, acting?

I passed from mother’s hand to yours.

I lived by performing tricks.

 

Little lark frisking about, nibbling macaroons—

Gambler, spendthrift,

The capricious little Capri girl.

 

A song bird must sing clear and true, with no false notes.

 

Earning my keep copying the words of others,

Well into the night.

It is wonderful to work—

I almost feel like a man.

 

Play the tarantella, dance with your tambourine,

Good little songbird—

Just . . . not so violently.

 

If your little squirrel were to beg you for something—

Would you do it?

I would skip about and play all sorts of tricks,

If you would only be nice, and kind,

I would twitter from morning till night.

 

One can retrieve her character,

If she owns the crime and takes the punishment.

 

I should so love to say

Damn it all.

Wait, I just did.

 

I drink wine for breakfast.

I shave my legs clean.

I drink in my smell and stop worrying about hell.

 

Tomorrow night, when the dance is over I shall be free.

There’s something glorious in waiting for the miracle.

 

I thank you for your forgiveness.

I will think of you,

Our child, this doll house.

 

But I have other duties, equally sacred.

I no longer believe in miracles—

Other than those I deserve.

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Theatre du Grand Guignol

grand guignol

We could never equal Buchenwald.

 

In those days before the war,

Everyone felt what happened onstage was impossible.

 

Our nightmares of sadism and perversion

Played out under angels at watch over the orchestra,

Our fantasies fulfilled in the private rental boxes

Once occupied by supplicating daughters of Christ—

We, aroused by the unthinkable,

The unwatchable.

 

Crimes in the madhouse

The laboratory of hallucinations

The torture garden and guillotine

The insane street urchins, prostitutes and apaches.

 

Lilly Laudanum became the most assassinated women in the world,

After she kissed the leper.

 

Shot with a rifle, raped, hanged, quartered,

Burned, cut with surgical tools, poisoned,

Devoured by a puma—

Strangled by her own perfectly matched pearls.

 

She is all of us, wandering blind

In this world afraid of the foreign, the unknown.

 

We could never imagine it possible.

Now we know these things,

And worse

Are possible in reality.

 

 

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The Next Day

affadavit

Damn the crimson tulips—

Their sticky silk closed

Into themselves, in the weeds,

Awaiting birth.

Mocking me.

Doom the trumpets.

Curse the spoon-fed saccharine myths,

The fairytale gone bad, horribly awry—

They betrayed me.

I’ve stopped performing.

This hurts worse than I’d thought.

The shaking will not stop, steeped deep in my bones.

There is not enough Xanax, or sleep—

But It will pass.

This spring is an afterdeath.

An emptiness and hollow panic—

A hangover of uncertainty.

It will pass.

The brass key to that last door,

Pressed in my palm—

Then released to the floor.

 

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America First

America First

Dismembered, one stroke of the pen,

One dollar at a time—

 

The arsonists are in charge of the fire station.

 

Destruction plumes, forcing fumes

To an indifferent, hazy sky.

Books and art in the sulphur flames

Crackle and snap alongside

Food scraps for the aged and

Melting plastic eyes of children’s puppets—

The radio hisses its last static,

Then silence.

 

The water leeches its lead,

Flowing down the strip mine scar.

A fiery freight car carries the lost

To the pyre on the River of the Dead.

 

In this deconstruction of the administrative state,

We’re all going to be deconstructed, destructed and

Tossed into the mass grave of alternative facts.

 

What did you expect?

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Housekeeping

housekeepinh

First, there’s a bag, then a box—

And another, then many more.

 

You fill a rusted dumpster with

Mismatched chipped dishes,

Shoes that gave you blisters.

 

Those stiff taffeta dresses from 1959,

Still smelling of your aunt’s verbena cologne—

You keep those.

Breathing in the memory, recalling all.

 

The detritus of experience builds its curious momentum.

Memories trapped in the stone dust basement,

Hurled outward in a mushroom plume.

 

How do you wipe clean a half-century?

 

Quickly, an impartial executioner—

Rinsing the blood from your knife.

 

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She Persisted

she-persisted

“She was warned.

She was given an explanation.

Nevertheless, she persisted.”

 

-U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell

 

She persisted.

 

Binders full of women—

Latina, African American, white, transgender, gay.

Hole-punched all of us,

Paraded for your agenda,

Served up for your pleasure.

 

Scold bridled in an iron mask—

Padlocked, depressing our tongues.

Crazy emotions and shrill voices,

Bite at the bridle.

 

Sweetie, you’d be much prettier if you smiled.

 

Silence need not equal silence.

We have choices.

 

Oh, we nasty women,

Centuries of us—

The smell of us in our words,

Our sex, our power, our voices.

 

Strapped and dunked and sunk we rise.

We nasty.  We trashy.

 

No.

 

We persisted.

 

Those words,

May well be my first tattoo.

After the scars heal,

It will be pink and perfect.

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