Friday, June 6, 2008

The Bike Man

The Bike Man

My gears needed attention
because when I shifted
into sixth, they slipped back
to fourth.

And when I downshifted
to fifth, to compensate,
I ended up spinning
like a rat on a wheel.

Wade hoisted my Schwin
onto the bike lift,
cranking the rubber pedal
while eyeing the chain.

He twisted a silver cap
on the front end cable
then jimmied the bottom bracket
as the brakes were engaged.

Who knew a man named Wade
would know all about the intricate
details of my derailleur,
by only spinning my two wheels.

Who knew a man named Wade
would fix my purple vélo
with nothing more than
a thin gloss of lubricant

stretched between his two fingers
firmly pressed on my clotted chain,
easing deeply into my bearings
until the kink came out.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Sex

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Sex
A nod to Wallace Stevens

Between the flannel fitted and the percale top sheet,
The only moving thing
Was the tip of his finger.

I was of two heads
Like the queen
of a porno flick

The desire came to me
wrapped in song.
Beyond desire, all else pales.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are kinky.

I do not know which to prefer,
The seduction of words
Or the racy taunts of her tongue.
The bed rocking,
Or just after.

Candlelight stabbing the dark
With hallucinating effect.
The bigger the flame,
The longer the objects appear
To be moving to and fro.
Desire burns Without reason.

O card-carrying AARP men,
Why do you imagine trophy wives?
Do you not see how her denied desire
both succeeds and shames you?

I know French accents
And lurid, cabalistic double-stops;
But I know, too,
That desire compels
A fiddler's fingers.

When sex deceives even the simple farmer,
It sets itself up as sinful,
one of seven.

At the sight of her naked body
Tied to the four-poster,
Even Samson handed over
The scissors.

She rode over him
with her boots on.
Once, he wore his ten-gallon hat
and nothing more.
He received nothing less.

Desire is mounting,
Sex must be imminent.

It was evening all afternoon.
They were sweating
And they were going to sweat.
Replete with desire
and dampened sheets.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sail Away

I’ve had my ear to the rail for some time now.
Three yards up the line, my sister huddles,
waiting, same as me.

Hearing something
I jerk my head up,
study the horizon.
But, no, it is nothing,
perhaps the whine of an airplane overhead.
My sister clears her throat.

I lay my ear down once more.
The steel rail warm and soothing against my skin.
Its smoothness is like a sharp, sharp blade,
ready to slice a tomato.

Now I hear rumbling.
Under the palm of my hand, vibration.
With my head on the trestle,
I see a plume of white, smoky steam
unfurling in the sky.
A finger pointing,
but not at me.

The vibrato becomes a shuddering.
The grumble, a roaring.
I crouch,
horrified and immobile.

With a scream, the locomotive is upon me,
shaking me senseless like dice in a cup.

Yet it misses me,
as if I were invisible.

I sit up after the last car passes,
watching my sister as she sails away,
her brown hair laughing with the wind.


I thank Bruce Molsky for off-site inspiration with his version of the old-time tune, Sail Away. No one sings it like Bruce.
Finding Joy

One of these mornings,
she won't wake up.
Sometime at night
when stars are shining,

the half-moon high,
she will take her last breath,
shallow and light,
skimming the surface of air.

Her eyes will flutter,
she will see moonlight
bathing the living room--
her fleeting hospice,

washing her lover's face with shadow
as he waits supine on the sofa.

Her lungs will deflate,
leaking out into space.
The gravity of breathing
no more

will not be lost on her.
Nothing can dull
her brightness.
Her chest

will weigh down on her
squeezing and squeezing
like the first time
when the womb birthed her
into this world.

Soon she will be wrung
out of this life
and into another.

A vastness
she does not remember.
I Shall Not See Her Again In This Light

In the beginning, it was like any other month,
but there were missing figures on the ledger where
the facts should have been. And her fingers
curled clumsily when she stretched to pull
the chain while turning on her bedside light,
which was needed to warm up from the rain.

November in Kansas still brings rain.
It’s funny that way, how the month
is still changing over to snow, and the light
fades to almost nothing. She wonders where
it’s gone--her brain has a hard time trying to pull
up facts and sort reality with cold, cramped fingers.

And that’s just it. It was the tremor in her fingers
that betrayed her, not the limp or the rain.
Though my mother said it hurt like hell to watch her pull
her left leg around like a lame dog that’s been leashed for a month
to the back of the shed, baying at the moon, where
were the owners, couldn’t they have left on a light?

By January, solstice returns the light
illuminating her bare head and boney fingers.
And the question of treatment no longer centers on where,
but how much more? We wonder if she’ll hold on until the rain
falls again in spring. We stop counting each month
and begin numbering weeks as we feel the moon’s pull

strengthening its grip. We watch the pull
tab on her zipper pinch sagging skin leaving her light
headed and gasping. It’s the last month
I see her with moving lips and fingers.
From the south, clouds again move in to rain
on our cap-less heads as we wander aimless, to nowhere.

April holds no refuge. There is no where
to run to avoid this dizzying pain, the pull
to wrap up in fantasy falls like rain.
Each new day is one step closer to her celestial light.
She listens to father murmuring “Hail Mary, full of grace…” as he fingers
his rosary, begging the Blessed Virgin to end this month.

Sunlight follows rain. And though she doesn’t know where,
in this new month, she accepts the sempiternal pull
toward the light and spreads her arms and fingers.