To Live Apart
That faint booming as cars coast across the bridge, the ravenous slap of wind on glass conspire to turn the thoughts in one direction: your going. A night like any might have been before you crossed the road, waited for the lift that you'd been taking there for years. I watched you go, dividing in my mind the spoils of that brief war, taking pictures from their nails, photographs from frames that later, in the garage, I would break. The images I kept, buried them beneath the surface of my days, below the passports, door keys, airline tickets, beneath the scars. The tissue heals, knits back. The fabric of the mind repairs itself. I listen, waiting at the corner of the road, wondering, what was that sound?
Six foot down, the edges cut with some precision, the sky in water at the foot. I know that you'd have done it better, stripped the turf, laid out the peats in rows like mortuary slabs. Last night I'd grasped your callused palm, held it cold and lined and crazed, wind dried as the topmost of the stack, drained the glass you'd left, brown and shimmering at the foot. Now, the ropes being down, I pass between the gates and see you stitched into the fence, this web of ancient twine, grey and weathered with respect. I will not see you when I turn away.
The power was cut, shut off an hour ago, but still the video's slow pulse ticks on, as time's perfection stumbles with its lines. The light withdrew, reeled back as from a blow; the warmth of music could not last for long. The power was cut, shut off an hour ago. The light bulbs all blinked once and ceased to shine, the radio fell mute, forgot its song as time's perfection stumbled with its lines. At first, a severed artery, I know, pumps life and soul out till the blood is gone. The power was cut, shut off an hour ago. We fumbled in the darkness, then, to find a box of matches, dropped them, got it wrong, as time's perfection stumbled with its lines. A candle lit and light has stopped the flow although the power was cut some time ago. We huddle in its glow, try to define our time's imperfect stumbling with its lines.
To Beth, Janis, and All the Bobbies
Beth has lately come to mind. The other night singing Janis Joplin a cappella walking across the parking lot to my Mercedes Benz and now, oh, Lord, won't you buy me a better way to say goodbye to lost and distant friends. My Beth was acoustic from Houston Street, braless homeless hippie chick awaiting a spirit sister who must have been me. Beth Reilly, so Irish her father's heart pumped whiskey. My daddy's veins ran clear with vodka. Beth was her own mother, raising herself like an army of orphans. I had yet to find my fight. I threw away my velvet dresses for hand-me-down bell-bottom hip-hugger denims patched with scraps of American flag worn religiously not like a felony. Street-wise Beth with a voice, a six-string guitar, and a friend's floor to crash on. One of those Village tenements you cupped your hands, aimed your sidewalk shout at Joe's apartment window, yelled, "Hey, Joe," until anyone opened the door. Supporting ourselves on spare-change budget, we worked the streets but not for Johns. We weren't the kind to turn a Times Square trick but we had Bobbies, plenty of Bobbies from Brooklyn to Boston, Bobbies who gave us solace and songs. Bobby Dylan's "I Shall Be Released," "Me and Bobby McGee," Joplin style, we sang on corners for quarters from August till Janis's final October. Panhandled Bobby Banks in Manhattan one Saturday morning. By lunch, we were instant family taking up Brooklyn Heights residence at Bobby's townhouse sublet on Joralemon Street. He substituted Beth and me for the dislocated daughters he lost between middle-aged crazy and Binghamton, N.Y. We snatched stray-cat Bobby off the sidewalk outside Bellevue. Mongrel, lost and hungry, Corvette stolen, ditched in Jersey. Took him home to Joralemon Street. Alley-cat Bobby pissing on sheets for a week of come-down nights. Nine-lives Bobby, we landed him back on his feet. Come September, hitchhiked to Boston. Beth had another Bobby in her repertoire, a former nun turned woman married Jimmy jazz musician, raising their two-toned baby in basement apartment off Boylston Street. Bobby and Jimmy knew the score, played their family coda of love, greeted us at their kitchen door like there was room for more. Lost our youth in their living room October Sunday afternoon when we got word that Janis Joplin would never sing the blues again. We grieved a friend singing, "I Shall Be Released." I was consumed to leave, go home to see if my father was still alive. My explanation was goodbye. When I knew Beth she was younger and older than me. The Beth lately on my mind is a stranger somewhere back East. And hurry up, Lord, 'cause I still need a better way to say goodbye.
The room was plain and expensive, stuck like a squint eye in the College of Inquisitive Sheep. The window witnessed well-behaved sunsets, mischievous stars and me. And you. There, on that dumb hard bed I re-nightmared the hotpinintheeye of laser surgery, I traced waterfalls to source, I sent poems fireworking enough to seduce you. The room is exactly as it was, the same sun sets, the sheep might as well be clones: only the mirror sincerely remembers and does not know what to make of me, makes of me something transparent, transient and old, a blinding, trembling tear.
Lloret de Mar
Big sun! Flip-flops cast off, the first shock of hot particular sand, a griddle-dance towards naked freedom. The teenage itch to be unanticipated in a life girl-brinily splintered. Each sunbeat slow-wings a scent of sun lotion. Inner perfume of you. The heaving ocean. Back home, you will be sauntering in tight, cold circles, a first wedding ring. I'm all laid out, the sun darkening my sleep. Ach, a ghaoil ghil, this was no break. My hurt skin weeps.'Ach a ghaoil ghil' - [Gaelic] 'But, my white love'
spread avocado mixed with horseradish and tabasco over chunks of bread with sesame seeds round the edge. One has a husband with a cane, coloestomy and a knee replacement. Sleeps most of the day and little of the night. One had a husband who left her as the children left for marriage college India. One threw out her husband. She's got an Arab now who won't leave his wife but brings chickens and apples from the Galilee, love in the mornings. One writes letters to a man she doesn't know, waits for proof that she was heard. 4 women spread avocado mixed with horseradish and tabasco over chunks of bread with sesame seeds round the edge.
skies bellowed with sand, Afula jaundiced, the Sachne pools lost the sharpness of glass, became a sea of pudding. It was Monday, the air took on the feel of mustard seed, filled sidewalk cracks with kernels that got as dark as curry. Tables and sills in my house grew moody under ochre. Winds like these, say the experts, haven't blown our way since '41, and I thought that was war time when my grandmother's brothers were taken away, didn't return. I look for signs in the air that feels more like Dahab than spring in March. I look into the garden, a tulip, the first of 30 I planted in winter has dared to appear.
Holding the Earth
A sharp wind brings Golan voices down into the valley where I can hear them. Sounds like a rockslide, coarse scrub of grain and the spiral of fissures. A frantic undertow. The voices want no change, want to keep their place in that massive reach of land. In the early years, groups of children, my daughters too, were trucked up there to clear rocks and boulders smooth the surface into a welcoming place. Pears and apples are picked now through fall and winter brought south to local markets. The trees are woods, throw shadows dark as grief. Crops and cattle are rooted there. Soldiers have fallen keeping that place safe. Golan voices spike questions hurl them at anyone who'll listen. People there seem to be lying low like leaves coming down, animals at bay waiting for the chase, stirring trouble holding the earth.
I have carried living things in my hands all week, sneaked up on daddy-long-legs, pulled them off painted walls and held their brittle bodies. I've picked up blue-black beetles like shiny stones, moved them from inside rooms to out, they stick to your thumb, they seem happy enough to cling on. Best of all the two young frogs who'd come onto the kitchen tiles to see what they could find. I watched them bending their tiny legs with toothpick bones inside, felt their rubbery skin against mine as they pushed away, they were amazing. I have held living things in my hands all week, knowing that if I wanted I could close the space between my fingers. And I think how it might have been for those two frogs, to be lifted up that high, that fast, and when the light comes back they could be anywhere, to be placed on gravel, to look around for something, to crawl towards it.
100 White Roses
At the restaurant my kid has plate of fried shrimp A man beside him takes the plate away Hey, those are my son's shrimp! I beat him up, fortunately My son wakes me with a cup of coffee or I'd have beaten the shrimp stealing bastard into cocktail sauce and right now be in dream jail Even if they don't fit we attempt to survive Trip over melody, slip into grave of jealousy, professional error An old girlfriend used to say my heart was in the right place but I'm clumsy The pizza stuck to top of the box. Those are his shrimp, the pizza belongs to the boy Boy belongs to me I take off my clothes, close my eyes, imagine Take my shoes, socks off, walk barefoot on summer lawn Parked on hill, windows rolled down, warm car, ocean A good place to start, one place as another What belongs to him doesn't belong to him but to everyone that owns him Nothing matters much where it starts as much as where it ends She wants lunch All's coming about eventually inevitably, only I must take care of my eyes The moment strains to be gotten as shouting and tears strain to be gotten Stay in bounds, it's taming A gray hair What kind of rose would you like? 100 white roses, that will be enough Every morning This mark and that mark marking and cutting Cutting and containing to make the thing what it wants Child paralyzed by precaution She must find herself Where he begins In celebration caution is tossed to the wind Even in the face of flowering Wilting, not opening, closing in, more than fulfillment Completion They're twins again in twin worlds, the children The brothers want to and they want not to They could and would grow together Birthday cake, sacrament in commemoration of divorce Divorce coming Breaking up all he believed and gambled upon All she counted on Oh, my eyes! Oh, my damn knees! On and trusted in, contractual, mediated Strings to soul that once embodied unity Today is for love Shall we make this? Tatters of sofas, children, intellectual properties Souvenirs salvaged from great honeymoon voyage Vocabulary would devour memory passed on Only as record, foundation for feelings, justification for Terrors of the playground In the car by the playground, the forgetfulness Here's where he goes again, she goes and the movement of memory History as they knew it never took into account a future which is presently unwrapping itself A parcel without warrantee or privilege or return Only digression and bitterness loom What are the particulars? In frailty, grace in frailty, but that's not history yet They are becoming more by surprise She thinks she knows where, he doesn't know where They want to know where, go somewhere Splash of invisible night Declarations of mornings hidden in erasable fog Born to it bending and back through it Here for him and her because they are part of song That's what they are about, the story itself Both without censure or penalty coming to it, being had by whatever it is they've become Don't forget the white roses Creating luck and letting in pierce arrow Presence to make things what they are without doubt Here finally, in disturbance of robes, parameters in folding Oh my aching knees! Oh my broken roses mend at your feet Socks and underwear, broken at toe, elastic gone White edge of blue jeans, price tag still sewn to back pocket Curtains drawn over beach, sheets drawn over day Sleep that's awake and never sleeps, the shrimp! It's not time to eat but they're getting hungrier Not him, not her, but the others that have become roses Wardrobe they're wearing to come to a settlement Pull up chairs, pride, cares, hide properties, disguise priorities Sign the damn thing to move on, they want to move on Things they love they share Knees, bouquet of white roses, and song Roses against a plane Leaning in the gravity of the situation He would not give up while his knees still served him better than his wife He wanted a wife, she wanted a husband The 100 white roses held the moment Persuasion of perfume These thoughts! Please take them 100 white roses