Poetry

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Le Désir

 

She was the object of somebody’s desire,
Like the faint shadow of a morning deer
Seen through the dead brush,
Fog lifting into its own absence,
Background to the primal hunt,
A new man frozen by impulse,
She, pretending confidence
In a shoulder’s shrug, brown focused eyes.

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Imaginé

She was silent today, another dry event,
Trying to train herself into the habit
Of not thinking about him,
But feeling the cool memory
That lingered in between
The cars she passed on the Interstate,
Driving to the summer cottage
On a winter weekend,
To sit quietly inside his absence,
Opening empty cupboards,
Breaking frozen branches,
Scouring the floor with her iPhone light
To find the small notes he left her
During the week, his monk’s notices
Of celibate days not working for him
But promising to let go
If she would make her truce
To surrender quietly to his words
Until, according to the contract,
He would leave her small blank pages,
“My robin’s wounds,” he texted her.

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William Pitt, My Blind Grandfather

He was blind, his eyes suffocated
Into silence,
In his grief, imagining,
His body’s stark opposition to
The innocent flow
Of children in bow ties
And full pink skirts,
Or an aging oak’s
Craggy shreds of skin
Once seen by the
Boy he used to be,
Eyes wide open,
Squinting against
An orgy of sun
His pupils knew
Could not absorb.

But now, in old age,
His eyes cannot remember
What they saw yesterday,
Austere, naked emptiness,
Burglarized by time,
Bargaining with his body
To hear more than
He could endure

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Senior Special

She didn’t know much
About the guy.
His name was Steve,
He drove a taxi at night,
Owned two German shepherds,
Used to work at a plant
That made cardboard boxes,

“It closed in August,”
He later told her,
“The asshole owner
Lost interest,
Bought a condo in Tampa,
A red 2012 Mercedes
With real leather seats,
Left his wife of
Forty years.”

She met Steve on
A Christian dating
Website for seniors.
Their first date
Was in late September
At the local VFW post,
Bingo-and-spaghetti
Friday night special.

“Does the spaghetti
Come with salad?”
He texted her.

“I don’t think so,”
She texted back
“Not on their Website.”

“No problem. Can we
Meet there right at 5:00?
My eyesight sucks
After 7″

“Sounds good,”
She wrote.

They both arrived promptly.
A couple’s interlude, they decided,
Better than the solitude
Of the evening news
And stale headlines.

 

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Mary Magdalene

 

Sometimes she’s there,
Tall as a giraffe’s neck,
Wondering, on her lunch break,
Whether it was the right thing
To do, but then
Agreeing with herself
That another child
Couldn’t bear
The night’s solitude,
Fearful as a street corner
Without a light,
In old age, a crossing guard
Shuffling somebody else’s kids
To safety.

Better to rescue
With a fast exit
From the sure pain
Of unraveling yesterday’s mistake
Inevitable as her last week’s lover.

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Six of One

Actor you’ve always been,
Wheel-chairing your way
Into your impoverished look,
Pants, with empty pockets,
Thin, liver-spotted hands,
Dry feet, hair, coarse
As a horse rope,
Eyes duller than
A kitchen knife.

You will recall
The stone bridge
Over the village creek
Where I chose
To feel the fever
You said started
As soon as you
Walked out the door
Of your summer cottage
To meet me.

Every August.

“It was never enough,
Like a bowl full of fruit,
When all the kids were home,”
You said.

But I never told you
It was sufficient,
Like today, when
I made another choice
To see you briefly
And leave you
To over-smiling nurses
And the sad odor of urine.

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Time Flies

Mark would have loved Sarah
When it was time,
But he waited too long
For a shower and a shave,
Basking in another
Random thought
About an altar
Decked in wet white roses
And every-shy lilies-of-the-valley.

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Choices

I suppose I could choose
To sing right now,
Maybe even dance,
Listening to the breaths
Of stale woodwinds
Which have no lives of their own,
Packed as they are
In attic cardboard boxes
Next to my grandmother’s
Lace shawl and my brother’s
Stained love letters.

No, today I will just sit
On the couch and stare,
Remembering Eleanor Winnowicz,
Who sat on her summer porch,
Repeating her favorite phrase,
“Goddamned dogs
Never amounted to anything,”
Every time Bess Swarthmore
Walked by with her
Two leashed Siamese.

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Life As We Know It

In their routine lives
They do not stalk caution,
Immunizing themselves
Against Invention,
Mystery, foreign as a refugee.

Certainty, their burden,
Quick assertions or denials,
A habit played out
To mock doubt

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Holding On

You said you loved me once.
I believe you in the morning,
Then let the day saunter into night,
Incredulous that your welcoming arms
Could drop so firmly in the suffocating dusk,
Like all petalled flowers, too tired
To explain to an uncaring sky.

But I hold on, like any glazed fool,
Devoid of absolute hope,
Which keeps me hostage
To my own sultry interests.

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