It doesn't matter that a yellow leaf
spins cartwheels on the sidewalk,
or even that a few weeks earlier
it shimmied the green dance
of August like a 1920's tart--
see it didnt rustle it shimmied--
but that's not the issue. Neither
is the Carnacia on the corner
of Dora Street and Cove Road,
whose signs exclaim Goat Meat,
Cow Feet and Turkey Wings,
while I sit behind the transit bus,
and study a logo blatantly ripped off
from Degas, with ad copy asking
"Pregnant? Birthright gives free
pregnancy tests." The point
is--I turn to my left in disgust
and in front of the gray house
with white trim--here a tenth
of a mile from the projects--in
a yard no bigger than my bathroom,
grows a cornfield.
Hair tangles signal three weeks of work,
each knot grows with each day in bed.
Once a woman,
a wife, a mother
now a captive of the house,
tied and bound by sleep.
Taking a shower makes her sleepy.
Pulling bristles through her hair, too much work.
As dirty dishes seize the house,
she scouts sheets and pillows on the bed
for misplaced anger at her mother.
Tired of being a woman,
she wonders if the title wears out all women,
if females need more sleep.
She decides to take a nap, then be a mother.
Those synapses take a lot of work,
she sighs and returns to bed.
Light retreats from the house.
She wants to be alone in the house,
resents that she's a woman
who's expected to get out of bed.
It doesnt matter that death and sleep
share the same job, do the same work.
Guilt hovers over this mother,
who refuses to speak to her own mother.
She feels safe in the house
it's the only talisman that works.
Makes her forget she used to be a woman
who never needed sleep,
and never stayed in bed.
"Hush. Sleep," croons the bed.
Her eyelids darken the role of mother.
Even a prince could not disturb this sleep.
Once rested she'll leave the house,
slip into the role of woman,
fix it so it works.
Soon the bed will not work,
and the woman becomes her mother,
even now while she sleeps in the house.
--Salt River Review
Michael's Voice Slips Fragments
of clean in my ear.
Once a carcass with a cock
lodged down his throat,
now an East Side Lazarus.
He swerves details,
the shot veins,
the way a drop glistens
the tip of a needle,
(because water would fill
his mouth and garble
its syntax.) He wants
to forget how his skin
convulses before the prick.
It's the pendulous drop
that scares me,
sure he'll try to catch
it on his tongue.
--Stirring : A Literary Collection
Secrets My Husband Keeps
I plug my guitar into its amplifier
minutes after I hand her the cell phone
and wave her down the avenue.
This October weekend she will not hover
around the PC like a drunk moth batting
itself to death against a screen door.
She left it all for stone wall silence.
Our kitchen gleams with her absence.
Books remain on shelves, towels hang
on hooks, kisses do not blow.
In our queen size bed, suddenly generous,
I conjure her return--skin fresh with solitude.
She'll be torn between kissing me and the keyboard.
Flush with the need to tap her fingers
in a battle of punctuation, minefields of commas,
but I am armed with full lips.