Roses

He remembered the sound of her red stilettos,
and the way her ruby lipstick slowly coming
undone by the rim of each martini glass
that she couldn’t stop kissing. That night

the desert winds blew hot from the west.
And he watched her topple from the edge
of the bar crowd into her last martini glass
holding a toothpick with two stabbed

olives between her scarlet nails looking
like an unfinished sentence trailing off
in a silk dress and looking like nothing
could ever harm her. What happened,

happened once — the kiss that didn’t last.
And it’s been years since the moment when
he lowered his lips to hers like a parched
camel leaning into a small brook to drink

the sweet water running deep inside her,
and in his arid palms her freckles came alive
like stars in the dark desert night.
As he drew her closer to the light, he heard

the sound of two olives hitting the bottom
of the martini glass. And there were roses
on the nightstand. And the sunrise
seized the whole night.

 

Originally published on February 23rd, 2016 on my old blog. 

Daybreak

When she raised her eyes and met his gaze
the train gave an unexpected lurch.
It was an ineffable moment,
like a deer looking up from the plain
for an instant and finding berries.
The sun was rising. His pale blue eyes
and the rye field rolling out behind
his broad shoulder reminded her of
the old town she’d run away from,
where the faded rye no longer danced
when the cold wind blew, and the mad crows
beat their wings against the stony sky.
And as she smiled at him, sunlight broke
through the tin-gray clouds that gathered on
the tip of her tongue all these quiet years.

 

Originally published on January 27th, 2016 on my old blog.

The Breakup

This was after we’ve both said bitter things
and the light’s begun to fade. We stopped
at a small fishing village outside Maine.
His stubbled face looked as composed as mine
on that overcast evening, as we stood
at the edge of the hard crag listening
to the waves beat against the solemn rocks
like relentless cries from the ocean’s heart.
And he took a few steps back and said, hey
let’s get back to the car and keep going.
And I thought maybe he too was afraid
to listen – this sound we heard everywhere
we went but it left us still so broken.
At night the wind came from the sea and made
the lonely grey poplars murmur more tunes.
He did not notice, and I – although I
didn’t believe there could be more – still I
sat up in the hushed car and listened.

 

Originally published on January 22nd, 2016 on my old blog. 

Many Years Later

Many years later, she saw him standing
in the cereal aisle of AJ’s Fine Foods.
He was reading the nutrition label
on a box of frosted flakes, still wearing
his mucky white converse with no shoestrings.

It was nearing seven. The blue between
two clouds grew paler but never vanished.
A bulb of white light quivered, and kept on
quivering still on the blank store ceiling.
Without a sound she turned away to see

if she has found everything she wanted.
Somewhere over the baking supplies aisle,
two shopping carts bumped into each other,
two strangers, mumbling soft apologies,
carefully went on their separate ways.

 

Originally published on January 9th, 2016 on my old blog.

Sister Moon

Mother, mother,
what have you done with my sister,
the other burnt charcoal white moon
from the same pear-shaped room
where I flew out like a bald bird
singing O love love be all mine.

Her life would have been mine;
her first cry would have woken the mother
in an iceberg, let alone you; her songbird
twittering of notes calling me sister sister
would have echoed through my bedroom;
if only the night queen loved her baby moon.

But mother, your night never needed a moon.
It was lit up by bottles and cries that weren’t mine.
I went into the wood, into the witch’s hutch-room
of black air, blacker than all of your hair, mother!
There I lay awake holding the soft form of a sister
who had gone to sleep like a sweet milk bird

nested inside all this love, my tiny bluebird
of a sister, my otherwise happiness, a full moon
melting into sixteen candles, pink-rose face of my sister
blooming into yours, and I denied everything to be mine –
all your trembling bells and stubborn curls, dear mother.
You laughed and said I was the blueprint of the room

where you’d lie down to die someday, a coffin room
from which you couldn’t escape. A caged bird
forever singing blues and lullabies, O mother,
you were the canoe that sunk under a waxing moon.
But the crescent of your face fell into place with mine;
your freckles tacked to my nose like love, like my sister

never leaving the nook in your shoulder. My ghost of a sister,
a longing with elbows and knees, tiptoed from my room
to yours every starless night. This game of mine
couldn’t save me from sadness, just like a bird
couldn’t take off from your canoe under the moon
without wings; without the bells of a mother.

My happiness, your absence, my sad white paper bird
gone into a world stained by the light of an eclipsed moon.
We’ve both been so alone in our blue rooms, haven’t we, mother?

 

Originally published on December 28th, 2015 on my old blog. 

The Centerpiece

They have come to watch me unfold,
sweaty dinner guests with gold lorgnettes.
I, a tigress imprisoned by a glass cage,
devour their lambs and spit red poetry.

Over the soup course they eye me closely in smokes,
horny widowers with stubby little cigarettes,
I, a dahlia rising out of the giant vase,
pluck their hairs and assemble sad history.

After wine they gossip through my earlobes,
bored mothers with their stuffed marionettes.
I, a blue moon squatting in a loveless cave,
kill the bats and begin a new story.

 

Originally published on December 21st, 2015 on my old blog.