Poetry: AV12-Poetry



At dawn they stopped
for a pitcher of beer
and some Spanish
peanuts. All around
equipment filled the lot.
Lydia slowly advanced
toward the mustard
sleeves of a bulldozer
chained to its transit
bed, oozing emerald
lube from its socket.
Raising his hand like
a visor in the mild pink
light, Leon said, it must
be the year for anything
goes, referring to world
news. Then a lofting smell
brought them to.
They shared a paper
bag of popcorn shrimp,
fried chicken and clams.
They were grateful and
set off again, ready to
pay their return.

The Eighth Ocean

Even though you sit on a couch
in a bungalow, your toes dance

like dolphins. You feel the tide
before you see the first wave

greet you with the effortless
grace of nature’s ceremony.

You gaze into a life that goes
somewhere, into an ocean

behind her eyes. Water fills
the room, tastes like tears

or birth. You should swim
away, panic, do anything,

but you relax, float in a lull.
You can breath here, you can

see. You sense mercy. You dive
beyond the map’s legend,

past everything you know,
into something more familiar.


Think of it like the bonfire parties
every American high schooler knows,
a masquerade the law may shut down
any minute. A spot to dance, fight,
deafen the nagging voices of inhibition
with pure grain punch, and try out
lovers like puzzle pieces. The only
differences: no big trucks with handy
hitches to get you unstuck, no cheerleaders
or captains basking in the celebrity
of their small circles, and the only
tough who wants to bruise and spill blood
is your heart’s own longing. Hand in hand,
we walk into the fire. I lead a pace,
look back. Your arms form a cradle.
We gaze into each other, then through
the other into the engulfing flames.
Our clothes catch fire. I cannot
catch my breath. Your yells sound
like a neighbor’s squabble, mysterious
screams muffled by closed doors.
We entered holding hands. Numb,
we feel nothing now. We will never know
if our finger bones stay entwined
in the ash heap or if we withdrew
into ourselves. Where is the old map
home? Did it burn, too? Are you home
or delicious exile? Why can I still hear?
Why do I still sense you throughout?
From fresh to cooked to cinder,
love burns the unnecessary dross
revealing the essential questions
only experience can answer.


I am standing behind the front desk still
trying to balance yesterday’s receipts. He
is walking down Pacific Avenue
clad in a trench coat and one of those 40’s hats
with a broad silk band that men wear
when they do business. This all transpires
in that one minute out of the sixty between
no movement on the street
and when it suddenly fills with cabs and jitneys
and hookers heading home to their own beds.
The clock in the lobby says 6:15. He enters
and asks if the coffee shop is open and I motion
for him to go in. I cannot imagine
what Joe is doing up at this hour by himself
in Atlantic City. I wonder
was he out on the beach getting sand in his shoes.
Was he looking for rare shells the storm brought in?
Or has he just accepted another new day
with his hands holding each other behind his back?
Through the doorway I see him
sitting in the end booth. Veteran Estelle
refills his cup to the brim
without asking or spilling a drop. A smile
breaks at the corner of his mouth and sunlight
through the window turns the coffee urns golden.


How the late entrants drone in the night school,
Proletariat paradise, thick blue time.
Indeed, perhaps, how long,
Are we to recollect with them and others, in one language?
Triangular milk, lids and medals,
It is better to live cramped up, knees to chin.
Those, who tap danced on our ceiling,
In places also were and at times became.


The historian reads the latest time,
Trembling glass in the hardening frame.
You’ll go into the street. Exhale. Time
Will remain. You will not. And underfoot
October, the ninety-fourth and fifth.
Moaning “mmmm” rattling M & M’s;
Already it is not the sweet smoke of the nation
And wet leaves fall from their dark places.


The snow fell in March, as it had not the three months prior,
Not an avalanche, no, but a heap like falling leaves,
White grass, strait fields,
Slopping roofs, twisted yards.
I live at the edge of city and nature,
Water flows from the tap, factory on top of factory,
And such faces, as if the people were already in a platoon
As if they were people…
On the way home I go down to the subway,
He has half a dry branch
With still living roots, musing women,
Who don’t come to the phone.
Death pays a child’s fare and enters
Everybody mistakes her for a cheerleader.


He swings in a pair of arms
He still has not seen spring or summer.
This is your person, this is his fear,
And his new light body.
There will never be this much water
But there will probably be lots of snow.
Trace the line in the palm
To the third century.
From the window an inverted light floats to the bed,
But can we know how it is turned,
Or perhaps it is just a comet’s shard
Crowding the pupil like a grain of grass.


They say that Arbidol is good for everything.
It can heal ulcers and bandage eyes,
Life will bear its illnesses, and
Like the Silk Road,
Pass under the skin.
We went to the left, came to a bus stop
The wind
Blew thin paper skin after us, bright as a new dress.
Girls with thin long legs carried bags from Oscar de le Renta
And Mont Blanc
And all of life, patient like paper
Turned and grew still.


Who is my love? Nobody, nobody.
My love is sand and powder, and so there is no justice.
Over the eastern cities rises that
Which in essence is another eastern city.
As when you rise above the ground
With the ancient tower, and round domes,
Only this and you’ll remember in the winter,
And how you lived before.
We could also be here,
Gradually, as the eastern cities.
You go beyond the edge of it, as if beyond the edge of Earth,
The space is scent and water.

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