Poem

Noctuelle

Bride to a cricket prince,
you are what flutters on sacred nights,
hidden in the dark of a parallel light.
Spore. Insect. Pathos of the moon on orchids.
I sleep to enter that garden of phlox and plums
where you are queen,
where basalt lifts into a luminous wind,
and at your feet I pray
for the immortal love you once gave Ovid.

Poem

The Yawn

There is a mark of lethargy on the pillow,
forming from the drips of an open mouth.
Ah, brother. Ah, child. This is the end
of that howl—we yawn, we yawn
until there is sucrose in our blood.

Poem

Green Ribbon

Little stem of daffodil
clipped by my teeth,
two sly breasts revealed,
dabs of Monet’s brush—
one a wind-stroked isle,
the other a parasol in clouds.
From her body I breathe
until she peels and wilts.

Poem

They Hired Someone’s Daughter to Look Like You.

It’s a thing they do for men like me.

Don’t hide a thing, I said as I transferred funds.

She became water, water-like.
It was water like water
in the pool of a grand hotel—
delicate but undrinkable.

Don’t look away from me, I begged.
She didn’t—after all I paid.

She was water with the moon’s impression—
night water—
depthless, no doubt—but now a mirror in the dark.

Please, may I dress you?

I poured her into glass.
And admired her, even though I was thirsty.
My mouth felt like grape skin,
and I held her in my hand as a spell became my mind.

The glass fell. It fell
and broke.

I told the bell boy I needed more,
and they hired someone’s daughter to look like you.

Poem

A Child Scares a Duck

The child did not enumerate
the ways that he could eat the duck.
The child did not say what garnishes
made the flesh of duck delectable;
in what soups, in what sauces, the boy could relish him.
The child did not mention he could force a tube
into the gullet of the duck,
fill the duck until he’s fat and his liver juicy.
The child—in yellow peacoat and black galoshes—
did not tell the duck a tale of guns and ammunition.
The child made no mention of decoys
or the mimicry of duck songs,
made no mention that he could hide in bushes;
made no mention of assassination.
No, the child did not mince words with the stoic duck.
The child opened his faded ruby lips
to show his little pebble teeth.
And then he roared.

Poem

Cracked Porcelain

Dear girl with the withered lips:

your bed belongs to a doll’s house,
creaks like a casket

while my love sprawls you against the cloth
like a pinned butterfly—

a wilted symmetry of something lost.
You should know the sheets smell

like another poet’s stale vermouth and dust.
Did he spend seven empty stanzas

undressing you of jaded stars?
He made you into something

when you’re nothing at all, nothing
without your closet of curiosities

to hide the shimmer left of youth,
the soft skin that measures time

like the oscillations of a stone,
waiting to ring one day

just to say that too much time has passed.
You’re a gray-haired child,

but I got a little extra love
to get some thirst in your soul—

the kind that ruins you
cause you can’t get your fix

from sheltered boys—
the kind that wakes the dead

with your desperate moans,
begging for my gin.

Dry spell’s ending soon.
It’s going to thunder when it does.

Poem

Querido

We are the ones who grow too old,
aren’t we, friend?
We are the ones who wake too late,
left in bed by last night’s lovers.
The ones who never sleep
on transcontinental flights.
The ones burdened by the fertility
of stone and glass, pregnant
with so many listless desperations.
The ones set free by empty days,
but weary of enormous skies.
Our cigars ember with joie de vivre until
our lips are burnt with ash;
that is just like us, isn’t it, comrade?
I knew a man like us
who left in such a hurry—
said, “ah um,” then died.
He was the lucky one, was he not?
Here are the rest of us
at the bottom of a bloomed horizon,
reading paperbacks in Bermuda,
trying not to skip ahead.