He told her that he was a pirate,
let her peek under his patch.
She shivered his timbers.
He walked her plank.
Together they yo-ho-ho’d
until the island was dry
of Caribbean rum.
When the tide rose as high
as her hopes,
he hoisted the Jolly Roger,
sailing away on a night with no moon.
And all the while she slept
like a mermaid,
the mark of an “x”
black on her heart.
I had a late-night beer with God last Friday.
“This one’s on me,” I said,
slapping my ten dollars down hard on the bar.
Exhaustion from a day of creation/damnation
masked the party face of
The One Who Cannot Be Named.
No words passed between us.
We just tapped our pale ales in a nonreligious toast:
to the lyrics of Leonard Cohen,
God offering up the same wink on Friday
that Satan hands out on Saturday.
Give me a marker,
a black, fine-line marker.
Offer me your hand,
open, palm up.
Now close your eyes,
your dark eclipsed eyes,
as I gift you a word
for no reason at all.
I press my back against the chipped cement of the underpass walls,
the dank saturation wicking through my t-shirt.
The cigarette I bummed off a fellow insomniac
roaming the dark streets in search of an answer
gives off a subtle nightlight glow.
If I squint, I can just about make out
the myriad tags and graffiti images
spray painted on the tunnel walls.
Instinct urgers me to place my left hand
over the street artist’s blue print.
I am in an urban Cave of Lascaux.
The air is ripe with the saturated promise of rain.
I can tell this is no
sort of shower.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand ready like lightning rods.
Tonight there will be torrents, fireworks, and percussion.
Time to lace up my tap shoes and ask Gene Kelly to dance.
I am a Hopi of the highway, an interstate warrior,
guided by massive utility kachinas,
abstract figures of steel
wielding huge outstretched arms
muscled with lightning,
generating enough power
to electrify themselves into gods.
Sing me a voodoo lullaby in a language now extinct.
Weave me a turban of whisky and promises.
Feed me hand-picked apricots
soaked in the sweet salt of Harlem.
I will sculpt you a word
out of the faintest of moonlight.
carried on the shoulders of angels
not yet named by God.