Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pack your map


Your map of the city sounds like a record
come to the end in a hissing coma
backsliding tone arm non-plussed
by the snare beat nipping at your heels.
Acetate overlays congeal in frozen layers
street grid visible underneath, your stuttered
declaration of faith a broken black line
binding a good day’s work into a tidy parcel
you fit neatly in the suitcase
with the telescoping handle
a grounded pilot dragging a string
of crash landings smoking through a gleaming terminal
tiny plastic wheels dissolving in a frenzy
of a thousand small bites.
Our maps cross paths
well-honed knife on a steel, keen edge
a tightrope, balance parceled out in motes
God in His wisdom, keeping you honest. 
I nodded in passing last night
heading home, north on Main
crossing gates down at Lincoln 
looking for you in the rearview mirror
Lebanese takeout on the front seat
cooling a little with every heedless boxcar. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shell game

Sea Turtle

Looking back
there’d been no time
for questions; satiny
ribbon of light
pulling us down
to the high tide line
sketchy glyphs
arranged pell mell
a history of the melee
at the feathery edge of hissing foam
and plastered wrack
soft leathery backs
purged in briny plunge
cleansed of sand
answers suspended, adrift 
plainly written
on every single grain. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night

U.S. Mail Storage Box

The first leg of my nightly walk viewed
from above, the top of my head
a bobbing pie plate in the pale moon light
while the desultory clerk within

shuffles papers among drifting stacks
would betray speed, heading, my mood
telegraphed perhaps by scissoring limbs.
The U.S. Mail storage box at Sixth and Knowles

by the Old Fire Alarm building, pitched
off plumb on a frost heaved slab, stamped steel lock
box ordinary at best even on
the Fourth of July, dutifully drab

dour in passing unless you happen to
know (embossed near the bottom of the door)
this faithful public servant and I were
born the same year to acclaim of a kind.

Each sizes up the other nights like this.
He stands a little taller, manages
a wry smirk while I pretend not to have
noticed the rust choked hinges and key slot

grateful for darkness, nodding politely
humming a tuneless something in passing
the bright lights of busy Main Street ahead
a place of reprieve when viewed from above.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cutting A Rug

Dance Class

Bear down! I urge, bear down! Under my breath
beneath leaden skies of gross motor farce
lumbering bear on a chain, tasseled fez
a thimbled crown, symbol of gravity’s  
defiance, straining in my winter coat
to strike a pose on an upturned parfait
cup, nose thrust into the prevailing breeze
in a fruitless search for the beat, lurching
across vast parquet plains toward our big dance
number, your beauty unbearable, my
lost, aching heart shifting from paw to paw
in slow waltz time.   I recall our last dance
when you were nine or ten, Mahlathini
and the Mahotella Queens at the Ark
the floor in front of the stage packed, whirling
with your head thrown back, outstretched arms, eyes closed
a wedding in your future, a smitten
bear committing the night to memory.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First steps a doozy


Gravity swells and rears its fearsome head
here in the unmoored hours before dawn
a sea monster of such vast proportion
asleep, submerged but for this sweeping bite
of scaly nape.  A ginger probe with one 
half blind toe, reassuring beyond all
reason.  Blithe as a tick on the hind end
of a surly cur I set off searching
for the mornings  first cup of muddy blood
a staggering baby, my rendezvous
with immutable law fast approaching.