01 February 2009

Introit: Recklessly Composed

1. strasseliede
Joel burned this mix:
it threads along the pavement,
here quik-stik chenille
there the silk cloth drawn through a ring.
Under a rented wedding-canopy of clouds.
Above the duct-tape lick of 54,
seamed by Joel’s music,
I try to stay between the lines.

2. meade citgo
Joel glimpsed me that first night:
when John couldn’t bring himself to
remove my navy crew-neck sweater (I
did it myself) and we slept in
our jeans, sternum scooping spine,
my shoulder blades his stilled lungs.
For a while our conspiracy was Js:
Joel knew, three Jessicas, most likely
Josh, who they said then loved me.
(This year we made love inside memory,
between the sheets of our lost past.)
My thoughts slip by like fields.

3. sleeps alone tonight
Joel had a girl then, I won’t
say her name she was a thistle
of a girl, pink-plumed, sharp
everywhere, a candy-dish
collarbone, roots in Brooklyn I believe:
Sunday afternoon the boys played Worms, Thistle
made tea for my cough as
the spider-crack climbed my rib.
Now Joel sends songs from Alaska
and I’m almost at the OK border
and the others are somewhere in love.

4. goth dance
And I pass so many wheel-split creatures:
feather-tasselled, fur-coated,
a crumpled-handbag armadillo.
I cross myself, always.
We’re the same stuck meat.

5. cranberry dirge
My grandmother dying back home,
I think of two things:
a plucky widow of nineteen,
perched on a stool asking
"number please?" in hose and heels,
played to the hilt by Eva Marie Saint,
Grace Kelly, an Andrews Sister or two;
and how just lately we’d reached
a culinary d├ętente: she offered seconds.
I declined politely. So last
Thanksgiving I had no turkey at all.
She didn’t bat an eye.

6. cresting clayton
The mountains appear
teeth and knucklebones where Kansas was scalp.
The rivers ripped blisters.
New Mexico’s raw body purified, like
a flagellated saint, ugly, exalted.

More than flowers for a grave.
Baby cows and baby
horses and a lone baby pronghorn.
Rain raked like iron filings from the horizon.
Blue and green like a first-grade watercolor.

And my Muse at 65 mph,
a Gauloise stuck to his glossy pout,
turns eyes brown behind cat’s eye glasses and hisses,
"Traffic safety is for suckers. Just
write." He slides his perfect manicure
into my lap, wraps my fingers around
the pen. "The road will watch itself."
[Written on the drive between Wichita and Santa Fe, June 2006]

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