A fingernail between his teeth,
like a boy, one shoe on the other,
clutching mom’s skirt –
or like a man bites a stick
when there is no anesthesia –
timid beyond measure
staring at the blaze
the past rises in
he will dare
When at night I go to sleep
Fourteen angels watch do keep
Two my head are guarding. . .
and the cherubs pussyfooting out
onto the stage, a candle glowing in a jar
cupped between their palms,
and the moms and dads are
all but wetting themselves. . .
and when you get to the last
pair, I’m the one with no halo. . .
and now, as I keep my steady watch
over his nights beyond the steady ocean
I think, maybe not all that much has changed.
Which is worse, to wolf it down
Or to sip nonchalant from some sacred cup ?
One claims we’re wrong to speak of it,
T’other says sin to hush it up.
Love is often as violent as this:
Le mistral that blows a bull to his knees,
Although it arrives as an angel’s kiss
Wafted along on a heavenly breeze.
Hard to define – much like poetry –
First it’s one thing then it’s another
Maybe it’s what you take it to be. . .
Whatever it is, it’s a mutha.
Human love is hardly different
from breathing in
and breathing out
forgotten, unless stressed
unnoticed when life-sustaining
where giving and taking
no longer have much meaning
as experienced in the name
and for the purpose of a larger being…
where the winding strand
becomes a skein
expanding as is
Cold damp cheap hotel
walls as thin
as shipping cartons
rooms like crates in fact –
boxes with silly blue
wallpaper unstuck on so
many corners – almost
as if done on purpose –
squalor – partitions that shook
when the trucks thundered past
halfway between Maigret
and Tom Waits and the
smell of stale tobacco
in the cheesecloth drapes
and my hands so cold
I’d hold them between my thighs
to get them warm until
yours could replace them. You –
you were like the intentionality
of the room, a study in the
unkempt, and I really didn’t give
a flying fuck because my
knees would turn to jelly
every time you slid
your hand up under my blouse –
christknows how many times
I had to sew that bottom
button back . . .
Or maybe it was my fault anyway
since I would always take your hands
– nearly twice the size of mine – and
drag you straight onto that dreadful bed
with its sandwich of mattresses
thinner than ham on rye
and I don’t know why
but we’d always keep right on
in that one slobbering first
kiss until all was off but your
socks; our intermission –
we could laugh at that point –
come up for air . . .
and from there on
it was more tenor solo
getting into the slow fry
your hands on my thigh
and my earnest attempts
to make you pry me apart
for the hell of it
I can barely think of it
now without feeling my heart race.
They can keep Rome and its pink
ceremonies, Rhodes and Crete
which smelled far worse in places
than our lavender sheet
that actually smelled of lavender water –
at least for a day.
All of it. Keep it.
Give me your hands on my thighs
in a cheap hotel in a town
that no longer exists.