My daughter,
when you reach
during the night
is dripping on
our backyard elms
and find
emptiness by the
hair, you'll pull
it toward
you for comfort
and feel nothing.

Remember, mommie
was there
before the moon
hid from the
outlaws and
all the while
the jackels scratched
at our windows.
I tried,
yes I did,
to wait at
the station of
your sleep
for lonely
strangers to
stumble from
your lips and feel

But a man
came with a gun
black as
Reed Lake.

He placed
its cold mouth
in my ear.
We listened
to the ghosts
whimpering and lost
in its long
Till I shifted.

Oh darling, I
left not
out of fear
of my own

life - a brown paper
bag of litter
left out
by the door,
But from sadness
dressed in dark
flannel and
armed by
your crib;
The water of
in his eyes.


(In Memory of Sietske Sophia Howard)

The way lavender
spears sunlight,
just as poppies bend
and fold into scarlet skirts,

The way shadow signals,
inch by inch,
the spreading chill
of darkness on the hill,

It is the way,
as you laid in my arms,
your body, pink, cocooned
within your new-born blanket,
you reminded me
of her,

Six months gone,
laying within the hospice
comforter, swimming
that long swim
from shore to shore,
the whole of life’s
dreams that must be crossed,
children pensive at the edge.

How you have arrived,
your own deep swim,
arduous and taxing,
you fall asleep,
small pursed lips at last

Just as she has
crossed the other side.

Indian Motorcycle

When you sell
the Indian
I am away
in a hotel in Denver.
The news shoots
like electro shocks
through the mouths
of our family

Because when you sell
the Indian
despite the plead
my husband
made of you
before we left

Rumors of it running
as if we were losing
not just you
but the past of you
the boy running skinny
on the west side of Salt Lake

The you of you
that cried in boy terror
as great schoolmates
trailed your way

The slip of you
being bloodied at your
porch step
almost making it in

The almost of you
a dad that picks
you up and throws
you back out
to be man
to be a man
to be a man.

It is not the machine
we are losing
old and graced
still kicks up
in the garage

But the grace of you
sliding lightly across
the gym floor
arms adjusted
like tuned pistons
punching light
into your foe.

It is the blonde head
of you smashing waves
into the sky

The nuts and bolts
of you
greased and snarling
glistening gears
that ache for more.

It is the Zen of you
tight and tuned
and loose with liquor
kissing fear
right on its smacker

The girl of you
sewn tight in man-skin
mirrored by daughters
a fighting wife

The mother of you
curled like a brooch pin
within your gullet
her dirty housedress
her eyes of water
her breath still tinted
with hints of rose

When you sell
the Indian
you sell the promise
that you’ll go on

That thoughts won’t slip
by, silver trout
darting lightning
behind words

That you won’t wander
through the house
searching searching
all night long

Losing the “it”
of things,
of names and places
of checks your wrote.

When you sell the Indian
that which is precious,
spokes and leather
aging chrome
deep in the garage

You forget that night.
With me, the daughter
trying to get it back.

My Nephew Moses Gets His Tattoo

At Sulu’ Ape Tatau

Through two torn holes in his faded
t-shirt, we view the massive back
of the Tufuga’s apprentice.

As a crossed-legged mountain,
he leans over Moses’ arm.
Moist wind, the mouthpiece
of the Pacific, swabs,
then salt-licks each surface of the fale
as the apprentice presses down
on young skin.

Here Moses’ story drifts
between pillars and rafters
hand-bound with jute.
Weaving from beam to beam
it’s ‘ie toga sways its exquisite fringe
of sielo strings and blessed reggae.

Faintly it strokes
the flesh of his attending aunties, his grandma,
his uncles, his cousins, his tataued brother,
(even parents and siblings an ocean away),
and it breathes its tapped vision
into the Tufuga’s hands.

The au lifts,
like a wand of teak
or the stretched-out neck
of a hunting crane
whose sharpened beak
dreams of flesh.
Clumps of cumulus snag
on hills who inhale
them from the sky
as chattering palms lift
their serrated teeth
high above the au’s sharp

Here is the pool
of ashes born from flame
and lama nut.
Here’s where the laufala matt lifts,
untucked by the hands of tidal wind,
and the tap-tap-tapping begins.
Wood kissing wood
startles blood to the surface.
Fire-flood of crimson learns the douse
of wet ink.

The apprentice’s t-shirt lifts -
a flash of his Pe’a
speaks of his ancestors,
the black-lined horizons of man-skin
and pain, deep floating
just above his lavalava.
As a banyan root seeking
seeped rain, his hands lock
onto Moses,
who is lying, face down,
in stillness.

Blue wraps with blue -
cotton patterns covering
Moses’ legs as he enters now,
as a man,
into oceans, into cloud-forests,
and lava-drunk veils of rain,
onto matai and ‘ava, long-rooted
in centuries, onto indigo symbols
mapping his way,

Now swimming the swim
of Le Pale,
where his tamamatua, Seminale, built
his house with last days,
where Auntie Tua and Lise
build gardens, which the jungle

Where his tinamatua, Shirley, plants
her heart deep
by roots of teuila flower shooting
torches of hot fuchsia into day,
where the papaya tree
sheds soft bombs
of sweetness
as volcanic rock quickly pave
with porous prayers
the jungle’s sacred way.

Meanwhile, the moon steps
forward from its dusk-dip
with coral,
to be the first one to view,
the first to exclaim
with a burst
of wind-washed stars

as Moses rises, alongside his ancestors,
and now glistening with black light,
steps into evening,
onto its exquisite tatau of rain.


They tell you
there is a cyst,
or “abnormality,”
as if normal is sitting
at a hospice bed,
genuflecting to death
to make it easier on her,
to not screw around
and play games,
as death is prone
to do,

And to not have all
her sisters, her nieces,
her stepdaughters drive
in from out of town,
then decide
she is not that desirable
anymore, though
she has prayed
to him, has stopped
medication, has given up
her earrings,
small shoppings,
spoons of ice cream,
even speaking,
to become his bride.

Death is a bastard,
I am thinking
after all the sisters,
the nieces,
have gone back home.
Although he loves it,
he will not perform
for audiences.

 So I wait,
her breathing shallow,
release her hand,
because I know
that Death will not
share her,
and lay beside her,
in a hospice
pullout chair.

I think about
how dawn
is struggling
just to be born.

I know
that this is normal,
in some hook-through-the-gut
way. It will happen
again and again.

So, I think,
stay elusive,
through the probing,
the ultrasound,
the MRI, ’cause
Death is a wicked dude.
He either wants you,

Or he don’t.
It has nothing,
I mean, nothing
to do with you.

Hage Veluwe

After millenniums
of fallen needles
and cones the size
of huge snails
the Hage Veluwe
offers ground –
moss like
punched-up quilts.
Needles still hang
in elegant strands, hair
adrift on Utrecht breeze,
their trunks shifting
back and forth
their sea of jade like heroin
or brothers on heroin
afloat on the same
Light does not
It simply
charges lichen
into bursts of lime
eerie pubis mounds
soft and glowing.
Don’t bother
to pick up underwear,
the dropped laundry
of winter.
A limb,
a finger like a girl’s
bends downward
cluttered with jewelry,
hard knots of pine,
and dips its tips
back into hair.
Slow curves
of air stir
enormous firs
against enormous firs.
Their darkness grows tall
above Amsterdam’s,
the city of nightly strolls
and swallowed herring.
Walk St. Annenstraat’s
scarlet path of women
where panties glow
blue with black light
and hips
are so young
you taste them.
Quickly, sweetly
they push open the
and call you in.
Toilet. Bed. And Sink.
Gently, quickly
they let you steer
your longing.
Flesh’s softest leaves
and young cones
coiled around seed.
There, the long tossing
back of limbs
become soil
where dreams lie down
then punch up,
still steaming.
Where sisters
of heroin bend, soft
and thin
toward the earth,
the taste of salt
still glistening
on their lips.

Nazi Youth in Bruge

The same beautiful hands
bricks laid, in love
with brick,
the same paint brushes
that wash the trim
blue, pulsing blue,
Belgium’s sky pumping
across Europe,
the same carefully dug
that lifts its head
into morning
its delicate neck
wired by gossamer
That same gossamer
that weaves blossoms
into lace, the dense
ecru lace of Flemish
fingers knotted with
years and love of
Their husbands
at home
in the field,
distant scarecrows
that leave indelible
patterns in the
That same earth
that sprouts houses
and brick barns
the color of
the color of stray
poppies spotting
canal banks
and cows
catching sunlight
in their flanks
that color
that dissolves
into concrete,
stray bunkers
remaining from W.W.II
dense and sprouting
hair of long wheat
and stray roses
which upon going into
requires the parting of
alfalfa clouds
the color of bruises
and thistle which brush
the udders
of cows
Then the walking into
stained with piss
and ancient doings of
While outside
hawks throw themselves
into sky
and one chestnut cow
mounts another
The same hands
that pull the udders,
the beautiful giving
lay brick which hug
for centuries,
drop wheat kernels
into furrows deep
as milk,
then wipe sweat on
These hands
that roll the nipples
of lovers, of pale girlfriends,
and wives
still, dipped
in darkness,
mark these walls:
the symbol
of lightning
gone wrong.

Trying to get Home

(After 9/11, 2001)

As I travel across
the United States
flags flicker at half-mast
like the tongues
of undone mothers
Rivers, deep and green
hold out wet hands
and cradle the bridges
that span them
Cliffs that crowd
the road
shiver with the jade
of Georgia pine
As I travel across
Cities slip by
terrified of their own
feeling the asphalt
of their beings being shaken
to the very core
These giants of America
Huge mammals of commerce
roar down the highways
beasts of provision
for every town
nudging roads’ borders
from dawn to dawn’s morrow
Bones made of miles
and all that surrounds them
Travelling across
the United States
fields flow by
islands of corn bristling
with flames
of yellow fruit
Sunflowers splatter
the roadside
screaming their codes
of gold
On hills cut in azure
monuments against sky
become one man’s
the dark silhouettes
of our fertility
Moving across America
flags flowing half-mast
or rippling from the backs
of Harleys
mark the hours passing
the lifting up of millions
dressed and mobilized
passing as they mount
the hour of noon
Trees gobble
the spongy soil
of river banks
and witness the first splotch
of passing
the crimson of autumn
played over and over again
the tumbling down
the startled breath
the blessing of leaves
on the prairie floor
Quietly across America
when dusk falls
rain weeps gently
onto goldenrod crowding
the sky to be cleansed
to feel the small sting
of each drop
gently, gently
washing down daylight
into the soil trenches
of America
Where the ghosts
of silos stand
in a far far place
from the roadside
Mist making elms
into armies of undead
marching the march
of righteousness
Storming the plains
where barns stand
sentinel against cottonwoods
and hills are studded
with huge bolts
of hay
Marching the march
of anger wrapped
within a rain cloud
the frenzied beat
of the thunderous heart
of America
And when that anger
the tremendous call
of all winds
the monstrous howl
of mothers
feeling their sons
slip away from them
of fathers hearing
their daughters call
out before plummeting
down into the dark
soils of the earth
That pouring down
that knows
no end
beating on the skin
of every hour
on grass stalks
with silver heads
leaning to the ground
On lakes
whose flesh
shimmer platinum
against the rain
This howl that spreads
across America
After midnight
onto Cheyenne
the night explodes
with stars
the constellations
of tractor trailers
pulled off the highway
the dizzy mix
of planets peppering
the sky
the huge orbits
of headlights tipping
down the hillsides
of Wyoming
In Wyoming
after midnight
black is a texture
is a scent
of rivers rising
is a thickness
no car can penetrate
by the dashes
of white reflective
highway threading
us onward
to the other side
When the mists
of the West sweep
across the asphalt
outlines and shapes become
become prayer
Only the white
line can carry you
Detached in a cloud
like a dream
that knows the way
you move slowing onward
beyond disbelief
beyond the blurry
numbness of fear
As a thread
of hope
that pulls you
to that which is safe
which girdled by sagebrush
leads you
through America
Dawn crawls up
sand mesas
of the American Great West
and seeps down through
juniper the color
of blue stone
Clouds are small
lilac cheeks
on the horizons
like the face
of a young child after
a deep cry
When sun lays down
its iron
scoring the scrub oak
of boulders
each crag harboring
the stuffed bonnets
of eagles’ nests
where fierce fingers
of millenniums have carved
out cliffs to harbor
hooves of antelope, moose,
of wheat-colored deer
This ruddiness of iron
leaps up
into mountains
Huge fists of resolve
across America
Into fresh daylight
I look out across
damp valleys
to see hills rise
mystical and calm
in their certainty
to see streams lay
gentle fingers
like a woman’s
through the grasses
To feel that I am close
And beloved
by this great girth of
To know that I will
soon be home.

Eve of Wake: As Hollis Lies

for artist and breast cancer
activist Hollis Sigler
1948 – 2001

Tonight you lie
final touches
a daub of makeup
a tuft of hair
placed just so
The fragile jewel box
you’ve become
All of us waiting
Your appearance
to be so elegant
so contemplated
so unbelievable
So here
I lie
miles away
the touch of wine
still at my throat
the music reverberating
through glass walls
waves of water
rising up
through the room
as light of candles
catches onto the pulse
of spa
you are now
our precious purse
the velvet satchel
of our fears
All death’s mystery
dangling now
like fine jewelry
from your wrist
With studded sparks
of sun-lit hope
and all the brilliance
cut within
You lie
a touch made here
a gentle touch
we all pray
of the word
like a pearl caught
in your throat
Mistress of beyond
priestess of
the final truth.

4AM: Patsy at the Gas’N'Go

(Trying to get home – Sept 13 2001)

Patsy has eyelids
with blue shadow
the color of air-brushed
doves on velvet.
She is ringing up our gas.
Her hair is the dusty
orange of hair
that’s gone through too much.
She is wrapping
up our souvenir shot glasses
in Gas-n-Go napkins
because the store doesn’t
give her tissue.
Leonara says,
“I sure love Wyoming”
Patsy says,
“I hate it”
She tells us
about her daughter who died
two weeks ago of Lupus
and how her daughter’s husband
is a jack ass and a drunk
and that when they buried her
he picked a double stone
and the mortician said
that would cost $350 and he said
“I ain’t got $350” so she
had to pay for it
just like the funeral because
she got insurance when
her daughter was 13 years old
and diagnosed but the insurance
company needed the death
certificate before they
would pay so she paid
the $6000 herself and she still
hasn’t seen the check yet
and that drunk son-of-bitch
wanted the furniture so he
could sell it for more
booze and her daughter would have
got better but the depression
got to her , him keeping
her in that trailer dump,
she kept getting more depressed,
had to be locked up for a while,
meanwhile he’d killed
one pedestrian with a DUI,
and they let him go and he
hit another one so now
he says he ain’t drinking,
just doing weed, but she knows
he’s doing both, he says he ain’t
got no money but she knows
he’s been holding out
on his $500 monthly check from
the oil refinery for booze
and weed while his wife
needed meds, so Patsy had
to work 50 hours a week
at Gas-n-Go to pay for her daughter’s
meds and her other daughter’s
husband is on crystal meth,
Patsy’s afraid she’s getting so
depressed she might kill herself
and take the two kids
with her and that SOB husband
of her first daughter, not two
hours after her death
called her and said,
“Here, come take this cat”,
her daughter’s favorite kitty
and not four hours after
her death he called Patsy’s
other daughter and tried to get
together with her,
her daughter was so depressed
taking 17 pills a day

4 antidepressants, but it wasn’t
the Lupus, it was him
that killed her.

Leonara says,
“You need a hug”
and proceeds to hug her

And we take our shot
glasses and leave.

Bird and Flower Market

Wrapped in shell, feather,
or clay
Shanghai meets the dawn
with rain
so fish may drink
and roots may suckle
So Jade may glisten
as the skin it really is
So salamanders, great tubs
of ink, can swarm
as stitches climbing silk
So chrysanthemums in pots
of earth can shoot explosive
red, then gold
And kittens huddled white,
can curl like lotus blossoms
against the cold
That men may crouch
above the songs
of beloved birds caged
with bowls
of mother-of-pearl
So spittle may become
one with earth
And lotus can gather
watery pearls
So a turtle, small
as a coin
or crusted and thick
against the glass
can wear its brilliance
before it floats
toward the pond
or heavenly pot
Destiny, as a gem,
dangling rain-like
before it drops

The Cruise

Here fuchsia is not sun.
It is the skin of your forehead
Tightening like pomegranate.
And these seeds spilling out
Are not your thoughts,
Your life,
But the undoing of your life
As you wander
The corridors of this
Ship, trying to find
And even as you wandered
Onto wife and kids,
They betrayed you and loved
You. They bring you
Here now
To the right elevator.
They count the medication
In your pocket
In this violent chartreuse,
This island port,
With mounds of coconut
And mahogany trees tumbling
From hillsides.
Here orange is not orange,
It is the madness –
As sun licks each side
Of the branch, then seeks
Tender tissues.
It is your wife
In thin cotton
Ignoring you as you speak
And a daughter staring
Into the distance, loving
You from afar.
It is the elevator
That isn’t right
The key that does not unlock
The cruise staff,
All now closest friends,
Walking you to your room.
It is the mango splitting
In your mouth
The exotic flood
In which you drown
And indigo flat as
Teardrops at the stern.
Here you float
And wait
And laugh so loud
Even the Gods hear you.
They won’t save you
With cruise cap over
Silver hair
And eyes the color
Of your mother’s.
With my mouth.
I watch you slurp
Your coffee.
The island wind fills
Up your shirt
As you ask
The fifth time,
“What island is this?”

The Neighbor’s Song

Give it to me, baby, baby, baby.
Give it to me, baby, in the face.
Give it to me, baby, baby, baby.
Give it to me, baby. It don’t hurt.
Give it to me, baby,
in the gutter just across the
Give it to me, baby,
shoes and socks.
Our boys are standing
in bare feet.
Throw them out the window
by the bed that I refuse
to sleep
And give it to me, baby,
all the vile, the shit, the crap,
the ancient creeps,
the scrotum-fuzz that halos
and heats up balls to
fiery pricks.
Just give it to me.
Keep the car, my clothes,
my lover’s drunk
and steady late night
Give it to me big boy.
I’ll buy make-up.
You can’t keep
your knuckles happy
‘cross my lips, my arms,
my cheek.
Cuz I’m leaving. Now.
If you ever touch me
I’ll fuck you up good.


(Pornographic Leaflets Litter Vegas)

Scattered across peach-colored soil,
cactus, and barbed barberry
they grow: new desert weeds
taking root along the roadside.
Their vaginal leaves, beige
petals unroll in fresh fingers
of light, the fist of the desert still
cold from clenching moonlight.
By noon they are faded,
turning back onto
But now they roll,
pale prolific blooms,
backward and forth with breeze
wetted deceptively as with sea:
Gelled lips wetted with morning.
Corsets released
on page two toward the star
Now breasts lean into gravel
and ankles root frozen
in crusted mud, last night’s
rain having curled up edges
as does kissing bitter-mouthed
And how the desert
sprinkles approval, pebbles,
small rose-colored, across leaflet
series #4:
two blondes licking
each other
the delicate lilies
they have become,
labia-stapled to the ground
and sand, the glistening sand
of this desert
this town
this garden of excruciating

Two Women on Sunday

Across the alley, on the back porch,
you sit, Sunday rollers still in hair,
in positions that depict mannequins
or rosary beads being held at the altar.
There is a morning breeze praying
over the wind chimes, carrying the cloaks
of September behind it.
A magpie clanks its black bell
in “Hail Marys” and shits on the sky.
It is Sunday, and surely there is coffee
brewing somewhere in the background.
Your sons’ hangovers are still purring
as pearls within their sleeping heads.
Perhaps you are playing checkers,
elbows resting on formica.
Perhaps you are still dealing to dreams,
the checkered deck of factory labor.
But I see you leaning back
inhaling the first cigarette of the day
the act of true masters
the smoke swirling inward,
and dread.


We try
by erecting great penises
of concrete
skydomes, hotels, casinos,
and such
and we explode
the night with wattage
akin to unknown suns
in other galaxies
Great deltas of platinum, palladium,
and arching upward argon.
Water wraps itself
around air and explodes
in mount fountain slamming
gazelle boundlessness
and still the earth
peeks from below
and extends its great fist:
the looming mountain ridge
old as a cowboy,
its knuckles bruising
the sky
ruddy shoulder blades
of western hill
muscling the desert’s suck up
and a gritty kiss.
With the Hilton
at its thumbnail
and the Landmark shooting sky
right out of Diamond Jim’s hand
that hill just waits
there outstretched and quiet.
Patient, I suppose.
Sun lying dusty and rough
on its unmoved
biceps, the calm hand
that has won
over and over

Via Delle Cascine

Like deer caught in headlights
the young whores on
Via delle Cascine
turn. Their eyes flash
the white of small pressed
flowers. Their breasts push
upward into the mouth
of streetlights
as each new car slows
almost to a stop.
With the fire still burning
three millimeters
hot above her hemline,
where the man in
the Peugeot
has just pulled out,
she walks quickly,
panties in hand,
to the next car.
Her bare ass
like the exposed face
of a young sleeping child
catches our headlights
before dropping down
into the darkness
of a bucket seat.
Across the bridge
the white Firenze moon
the genitals of
Chianti grapevines:
Blessed Salvadonica,
whose hills soak
in milk of spilled moonlight,
whose luna lace drapes
each dirt mound
like the twice washed
stockings of a
seventeen-year-old puttano.
“Quanto?” “Quanto?” sinks
its nails into the place
where the Ponte Vecchio
stretches fingers deep
into the Arno;
where the moon always
sleeps with its favorite
whore gartered
by rivers
the color of bruised
“Quanto?”, “How much?”
Each girl like a statue
the Medici have commissioned,
Glass eyed virgins carved
with boots to their thighs,
turns and looks,
then bends down,
All along Cascine Park
where Donatello knelt
each daybreak to

Wishing it Was Just a Bad Dream

for artist and breast cancer
activist Hollis Sigler
1948 – 2001

You’re a lump in bed.
Fear like fever draping
your feet
Blood pumps twilight
over the city
beating its drum
under your skin
For years
you have lived
embraced by the dream
her birds casting
shadows onto
your sleep
For years
you have slit open
life’s seams
colors now running
as wounds
from your fingers
How that dream rises
fierce from her fall
her dress flowing crimson
and torn at each arm
How she whispers
from the tall cosmos
in the garden
the scent of July
still on her breath
promising chartreuse
and bouquets of time
Like a mother
she’ll stroke you,
leaving you crippled
clutching your breast
Like a lover
she’ll probe you
reaching the marrow
igniting each cell to hot
candles of deceit
She comes tonight
purse in hand
all zipped in truth
As curtains blow open
and quiver with blue
and glass doors unlatch
to drift out like wings
And let her in.
You breathe in her perfume
And let her in.

Women Without Children

grow orchids
whose fuchsia lips hang
down with spittle:

the very tips
of fragrant vowels.
These women hold flower
sepals near water
and bath them with mists.
They do not wipe at mouths
that are always open
and slightly obscene.
They do not avoid
the newborn displaying his
sexual parts.
Women without children
herd the stamens and sticky
pistils into the pots,
then let them rant free
and reckless in front
of company.
They imagine the instruments
of drunken bees staggering
up from their drop
to amber.
They worship magenta.
Women without children
lift the tendrils
and shiny rhizomes,
pearlish as boy cocks,
and feed them to the bark,
fragrant and moist
and crumbling to the touch.
They stroke green pseudobulbs
and veer toward yellow.
They lay at night dreaming
of more damp mouths to feed
whose tiny tendrils tumble
toward water,
whose sticky sneeze
leave the ‘kerchief coral,
the million-minute dots
whose seeds burst forth
at her touch.

Ozarks Campground: Drunk Boys Next Morning

Though blasting through the night
masculine horns, obnoxious
as bull frogs,
these boys congregate
in the morning
kneel as in prayer
at the Russian olive tree
and prepare
as all prepare
to be fishermen.
spontaneous blurts
in the river
crystalline lips
catch their drowsy
it is dawn
and the boys
swagger with tackle
and with one flick
of the wrist
repeat the ancient rite
as light gathers its
jewelry and tosses it
onto the floor,
the gold pebbled floor,
in the plunk, plunk, plunk
of fish gills grazing
and the celestial glide
of fish line
translucent with intention
and glistening from
the boys’ singing

Revenge: Mint Juleps
Before Daybreak

Mint tea leaves pattern
her cotton blouse.
Dusk sips
its soda from a pink striped
straw while she watches
his words drop
one by one like silly lemon
into her lap.
He never seems to notice
how the honeysuckle are
bending down to take
the last warm rays
into their mouths.
He is talking,
and their soft lips are
silver before
he pauses
to find a cigarette.
June beetles
wander off in their pin striped suits
like her many cropped off
Still, she finishes them slowly
within herself,
and tries to speak
when the moon drops down,
its china sharp edge
like a pendulum
above his head.
She tries to exclaim
before the pomegranate split
of his head resounds,
the blade touching off
a thousand glistening seeds
through darkness;
But a night wren scuffles
in the sky.
She picks up the tool
when it is done,
wipes it clean.
She walks away,
wrapping it in her apron.

Tango Mar

Dieter, the bar is closed.
Yellow staggers in deep steps
toward the rattan lamp
where the bartender’s hands
await your empty glass.
Yours is a forehead
pressed by sun
into the perfect pink
of conch shells.
They litter the beach
with orbs of rotting
Last night you said,
“During the war my father
was only four years old. I
wasn’t born yet. But when
I’m on holiday around the world
people say “Dirty German!
Nazi German!”
Your twenty nine year old
mouth wet as mango around
your cigarette is inhaling
the world from a Costa Rican
bar stool. Your calves
clutch teak wood like an officer
on horseback.
Just as tourist
striking saddle you
halt beneath balsa limbs
sensing something dark
as humans deep within
their emerald shadows.
“Yet look at what you Americans
have done to the American Indian.”
We love to watch your eyelids
crash against your cheekbones.
Love the knife in
your voice. Just as we love
the Tico woman washing bowls
beneath her tin roof.
Her children stud dirt
with the mute look of puppies
by their sides.
Her rooster picks meat
from the skull of fallen
coconut. We trot by.
Say, “Buenos dias!”
Dieter, your comrades sleep off
rum in sea washed sheets.
You try to find your way
into the bed of Tico tour guides.
Their skin is that of angels.
We imagine the feathered bones
of rotting Sioux
across the great plains.
Weigh lakes a million deep
with Jewish Poles.
Affluent Dutch.
Gypsy Czechs.
Their children waist deep.
We press chilled coconuts
to our lips
they are sliced at the top
like perfect scalps.
Swirl the peeled flesh
of coral sea prawns.
And judge.
As we all will be judged.

The Estate

Last night
we smelled of old mustiness,
You wearing the old man’s
straw hat,
its rim the color of
eighty-year-old wheat,
and I,
in the wife’s bustier,
its whalebone trapped
in pink-pearl shadow,
its delicate grasp pressing
V’s across my back.
Last night,
after sorting three full hours,
we stopped
to glance at all
that had been trashed:
dark-veined china,
books of gold edge,
depression long-johns cowering
behind men’s hats.
Eighty years of life
heaps high
within a dumpster.
As dusk dipped pale fingers
down through the alley,
we reeled like children
with our find.
Filling the trunk up to the
we headed back.
Later, in our own home,
boxes smelled of thick, prewar
The dresses took on form
and swirled in the dance
that only ghosts know.
You put on the old man’s hat,
like a carnival barker
straight off the boat.
I hooked the eyes
of a young woman’s stays,
the frantic swoon
of the flesh held back;
And we made love.
Smelling of mustiness.
Smelling of strangers.
Smelling of decades perspiring
till dawn.
The ancient scent
all lovers know.