After Richard's Swivel Chair Broke
There was heedless TV snow
in the background. His wife puckered her nose
at the smell. He hadn't showered in days.
Hadn't trimmed his nose hair.
She called him Buzz to her girlfriends.
He knew she even had a name
for the way he twitched his ears: Rapunzel.
He was thinking: I can hear
fruit flies embroider the fruit rot.
He remembered how, as a child,
he drank vinegar directly
from the bottle. First love. And he hadn't
met his wife yet. She came later.
With hydrogen peroxide,
power tools, whiskey in his breath.
Already, he was past the respectable weight.
He was past apologies.
He never admitted to anyone
he'd broken the swivel chair settling down.
**previously published in Eclectica Magazine (Oct/Nov 2006)
What The Tabby Scratched Today
The lampshade on the end table
is lopsided. In the room, there are
signs of violence: a spilt vase,
the flowers crushed by fallen
books, the torn curtain, blood
on the sofa, animal fur on the rug.
My skirt is frayed at the hem,
the sole of my left boot threatens
to come off. The lights have gone out
the way a chameleon's tongue
furls back into its mouth.
A door flaps; this house has bats
at night. On the porch, a swirling
wind drags the stainless bowl,
the noise like phantom chains in
an opera the public snubbed.
On my mother's desk, there's an old
Gratta e Vinci ticket. The price,
2500 lire, is half-covered by socks
she failed to mend. A black labrador
licks its wounds by the dying fire.
** previously published in Ink & Ashes (Vol.1 issue 2)
The Icon and the Gander
This wasn't the portraiture I planned to study.
The triangular clockface drunk-drives to ten.
I still dream of migratory birds, and her --
in the vestibule, holding a coral-red umbrella.
Sometimes I wish I could forget. Throughout
the history of flight, saints have contradicted
the fowl and, oftentimes, ate them for supper.
Included in my guilt cargo inventory: the Degas
cup with its broken saucer, rainfall, the yellow cab.
To prove her point, my wife called everyone bastards.
Why withdraw from the diagram of these meanings?
Rather vague details: the Madonna sculpture,
a weak watercolor brushstroke that could've been
a signature or grime on a webbed foot.
And now it's back to mud, the initial idea
that clams are actually quite happy in their shells.
This uncompromising elevator music is louder
than the wrong shoe color in the background.
** previously published in “Eye” (Issue 3, Dec. 2005)
It's the appointment I've missed twice.
An ache, like a bad molar, blows a pistol.
The little parakeet has been taken away.
A heart condition. We are sorry for
the inconvenience: still life with magazine rack.
What secret life do dental assistants lead?
An x-ray of jaw bleeds the Christ head
on the cross. I am required to misunderstand
what pain wants from me. The waiting
room is a kind of bankruptcy itself.
Seeds crack the birdcage floor, but reveal
nothing about its previous occupant.
The scent of
November's tea dance is feral:
fresh shoe polish, naphthalene,
twelve seniors waltzing to bluegrass,
chrysanthemum petals on the floor
like paint flakes from a junked
limousine, lukewarm tea, scones.
The taped music brings back
the 40's, redundant and insidious --
I'm with another woman again.
She is Dahlia, sometimes Maeve.
Lines on her face count down
the numbers on the clock's dial.
The fluorescent lights are white
like weddings. I am in black again,
a guest in someone else's funeral.
** previously published in Bonfire (Issue 4/2005-21/12-05 Winter Solstice)