Charlotte – A Poem

Charlotte believes a lovers’ quarrel
smells the same
as kerosene
poured over the mint in her mother’s garden.

She feels the end of a sonnet
is like the end of a life.

And yet although she recognizes something familiar
in the eyes
and in the manners
of every one she sees
she knows she passes
and will pass
unnoticed
through the world.

Monstrous praises she heard
slurring out of a half-open window
made her giggle
once
into her clenched fists.

Charlotte believes
and feels.
She recognizes and knows
praises
hears
giggles.

“It’s just that I don’t understand

her.”

Blackberries – A Poem

Spellbound by the nuance
of a change in the
atmospheric pressure

I wake each morning with the broken
thoughts of another person
lying at the foot of my bed
and I try to arrange them into a coherent whole
before they evaporate
in the newborn light of day. And each day
I fail and am left with only
the smell of basil
faintly fragrant in the air.

A gathering of memories at the water’s edge.
Vividly colorful and living. A terrifying
ambivalence moves them.
A passion for love eternally ending
is spoken of. They are sad
and lost and utterly captive
to the lyrical temperament of their own words.

But though vulnerable
against it I stand enchanted. It’s our preference.

Yet it is just an excuse if
simply for this brief interlude
we can share together

the blackberries that have ripened on the vine.

Names on a List – A Poem

Thoughts of Tucson
in a small room.
A freezing rain begins to fall.

I placed my trust in divinity to act
and fell from
the face of the world.

There is a mysterious art to it.

The room has a window
and a door
and the walls are a light brownish green.

I feel like I could live here.

There are names on a list
and ice now on the glass.

Unbalanced I start a fire
in the propane heater
and begin to feel warm and loose
and light-headed.

At the sink I pour another vodka tonic.

The names on the list are blurry
and I wonder who wrote them.
What they are for.
What it means.

The radio station plays early twentieth century
Broadway
and blues
and I don’t have the heart to change it.

I have two weeks…
two weeks…
and then…

Little birds shelter in the branches outside.
It is nice in the country when the
farm fields are empty.

Ribbons tied to a school’s chain link fence
flutter and whip in the wind.

I think of Tucson
and a golden sun
plummeting
into the desert
as I set a flame to a corner of the list
and watch as the fire burns it to ash in a bowl.

I like to think I freed them
those whose names were on the list
but the acrid smell
left in the air speaks
otherwise.

 

The Chemical Composition of Our Nature – A Poem

Change the chemical composition of our
nature
where the last of this season’s snow withers still
in the recesses and shadowed places
the sun light
cannot reach.

Holding my palm
out
to a prophet (a designer of fate)
I find comfort in the remedies she offers.
It’s a Tuesday which dematerializes before us
in such a flurry of philosophizing that our lips turn blue
and crack.

Acceptance has been passed down to us
she says
so let us be gloomy and in love and utterly
frantic.

Strangers at the brook suspecting firearms are being sold
out of the city’s service equipment shed off Mill Street
let us pass without
confrontation.

The market is abandoned.

The air blushes pink with the flavor of cinnamon as
I seek an escape from this wearisome close
of winter’s retreat with a prophet who denies her actions on the solstice.
But the regrets we share from yesterday’s follies transform into a clarity
of vision
that designs within us
a passing reprieve.

At the base of the stairs she gives me
a chestnut
and closes my hand about it.
I grow fearful of the eyes behind the white windows.
The sound of the cars passing
unhurried
on the street
make me want to answer her unasked question but find I
don’t have any words.

There is something believable about you
she tells me
but now I can only wait for you
to wake up.

Elevator Doors – A Poem

Elevator Doors

The closing elevator doors sound like
a girl weeping
and remind of the county fair
we went to years ago
every fall.

The only thing I now still see clearly
is the color
red.

It was always only ever a marginal trust
we shared
with the devil
in our pursuit for equality and want.

I can still smell the air
crisp and fresh
coming off the asphalt and the grass
as we huddle in the overgrowth
where the cascading lights
reflect vividly vacant
in Teddy’s soft
callous eyes.

“I only believe in endings so pure,”
Mel says
as the blood from the tips of her fingers
is streaked through her blond hair
and the woman’s laugh
from across the darkening creek
comes gently creeping over the water
“that the nostalgic remains of our lives
become the tears
to open the gates of hell.”

And now…
and so
I am haunted
by those mystics
who climb from their crypts
misted and speaking a ruined
holiness.

A vessel is born as the elevator doors open
onto a world of decayed salvation
and exiting I leave behind the girl crying
hidden in its mirrored walls.

“They will always be, you know.”

I find my spoon in my desk drawer for my instant coffee.
A red light informs me there are messages on my phone.

“There is no word for it.”

 

Summer Values – A Poem

 

Summer Values

Wary and suspicious
a justice buries himself in the
shadows of a liquor cabinet. He lacks confidence.

“I am attached to the sparing of summer values and
grant reconciliation to November’s barren days,”
he says.

The letter from The Office of the Superior
lays torn in half on the carpet. It smells of internal networking.
A dog in a neighbor’s yard lets out a low moan and smells apples
in the air.

“If only his children… If only his children…”
Mrs. Witherbon utters to the crowd assembled
in the parlor who had come for dinner.
They look down at their hands and shake their heads.
“If only, if only,” they repeat in unison.

“A mantra!” the justice screams. “A mantra?
That is my compensation? No more. Please. The blood of my children
will shake the earth!”

Elsa, the daughter of the justice, examines the number of scratches
in the dinnerware and finds it suitable.
She is alone in the dining room except for Raymond the parrot who is
caged in the corner. With a smile she takes comfort in the
secret she has kept.

“It is a temporary madness. So much stress and now this.
What can one expect?” Mrs. Witherbon reassures.
The crowd is uncomfortable with her desperation being so
visibly displayed.
They nod, shuffle and appear concerned.

“Take flight you peacemakers,” the justice warns,
“for I will have your heads.”

In the town of Ruxberg some distance away
The Office of the Superior
asks a young woman if she would like to see a movie.
And she, overcome by the charm of His Elevation,
backs away from him and into the glass
of a storefront window. He can only laugh a chirping
cough-like chuckle in remorse
for the scandal.