GPS

He had no sense of direction and couldn’t read maps.

Perhaps that’s why I found our relationship constantly returning to the same spot, our lives circling the drain of devastation without being sucked away.

It was all I ever knew and, of course, I never knew much.

Then you sailed in, with your Magellan eyes and Marco Polo ways.

You with your perpetual passport, natural navigation, and global goodbye:

     – smelling like Babylon

     – tasting like extinction

     – looking like danger set loose from a trap

How could I resist what I never really knew?

So I let you take me by the hand and lead me to Bohemia.

I left without baggage, not even my conscience.

Sometimes I wonder if he notices I left him.

Sometimes I wonder if he ever received my postcard.

Probably not.

I never bought a stamp.

Copyright 2010

RELIGIOUS RITE

Hand me your love and I will make it my novena.

Give me your grace and I will let you save my soul.

One touch from you and I am healed.

One trinity of words and I am redeemed.

Bless me with the sacrament of your salvation and release me from my sin.

There can be no amen to this miracle of prayer.

MY NATURAL DISASTER

My daytime is spent assessing damage control from the mayhem, force, and devastation of you.

You are my natural disaster and I can get no aid or relief.

How can I?

You are the frenetic funnel cloud that relentlessly appears out of nowhere on a serene summer day, the vortex that upends any resistance in its path.

And I am the isolated lover, somehow still  left standing,  locked in a constant struggle with the power of your nature.

The best I can hope for is to stem my erosion.

But then night comes and the whirling, swirling energy that surrounds you suddenly stops. 

Just like that, it ceases.

You are such a different phenomenon when you sleep – peaceful, ethereal – a body of motion finally at rest.

And  the glow of electrically-charged particles eases off your skin and enters the evening,  a sacred nightlight meant only for me.

And the echo of creation haunts your breath, thickening  the sound into metered respiration, a whisper of trust meant only for me.

You are my natural disaster and the eye of your whirlwind is worth any damage.

Copyright 2010

CELESTIAL LEFTOVERS

I swallowed a comet last night, fiery tail and all.

I hadn’t planned on doing it.

It just sort of happened, randomly, like most accidents do.

No one ever consciously says: let me lose a ten dollar bill, let me get hit by lightning, let me fall desperately in love with the worst possible person.

And, most definitely, no one ever says: give me a comet, over easy and combustible. I have a craving for something sweet and celestial.

HIDE AND SEEK WITH BUDDHA

Buddha came over the other morning and rang my doorbell.

I hate how he does that.

He rings it only once, sharp and sweet, and then just waits…and waits…and waits.

He has the patience of a, well, Buddha.

Sometimes I peek out the curtains to see if it’s him, wondering why he’ll wait there for such a long time and yet never ring the bell again, just to make sure.

He is so serene in his moment of patience that I wish I had a camera to capture the pure lines of his face, so perfectly in the moment, so beautifully benign.

All my life I have been in search of The Buddha, anxious to find him, frantic in my efforts.

Now here he is, unexpectedly persistent in his weekly visit to my front porch…and I’m in my pajamas, pretending I’m not home.

WHAT IS THAT BIRD?

Every morning I wait for it – that freak of a bird that can’t even sing.

Not the one that collects all the quality notes and arranges them in perfection before displaying them in song.

That one is vain, and pretty, and has a gift for composition.

No.  Not that one.

And not the picky one that hones in on a sole flawless sound.

That one has perfect pitch and single-minded purpose.

No.  That’s not the one either.

There it is!  That’s the one!

The one that strains back into its ancestry to yank out a sound not quite reptilian, not quite avian.

Can you hear it revving up its vocal chords to sound like a reluctant car in winter:

     Start, start, start, start, START.

     Start, start, start, start, START.

What’s with that bird?

That freak just can’t turn over into song.

I can so relate to that bird.

DOGMA

I hold my breath until the hallelujah moment with you is over.

How I have sinned and how I have been redeemed!

Funny how easily my faith in love can be renewed as long as you are the savior.

808.1

Shakespeare sits cross-legged on the worn high-traffic rug, piles of periodicals strewn all about him like anxious groundlings.

“Ay!  There’s the rub.” 

He obsessively rips perfume samples out of various glamour magazines and swipes them all over his frayed woolen tunic.

The aroma of “Euphoria” and turnips is unsettling. 

 Masking the musk of 17th Century Old English is not as simple as it seems, and Shakespeare is beginning to feel outdated.

“Poor rat bastard!” 

 Ginsburg steps gingerly over Shakespeare’s brooding form and for a brief moment the feverish eyes of the 1960’s and the rheumy eyes of the 1690’s lock in a gaze of serendipity.

Ginsburg has no patience for unrequited love, but he does have tolerance for unrequited lovers. 

“Do you want to come to Cummings poker night with me, Billy?  We could use another queen.”

Shakespeare appears dazed.

  “Forsooth, Knave Ginsburg, thy tongue doth cloak itself around language foreign to mine ear.  The dainty blush of m’lady’s delicate meter is but the sole sound of love’s poetry and all that needs be heard.  Be off to thy game of chance and leave me to mine unrequited reverie, mine unwavering devotion to the sweet poet Sylvia.”

“Sylvia?  Poor rat bastard!  First Emily, then Elizabeth, then Gwendolyn and Anais…now Sylvia!  Poor lovesick bastard!”

Ginsburg howls a mantra at Shakespeare before heading up the aisle:

        The weight of the world is love.

        Under the burden of solitude…the weight, the weight we carry is love…

       “Carry on then, Billy!” 

Ginsburg grunts as he laboriously bends over to pocket some loose Oxford commas and unnecessary exclamation points left discarded by the patrons.

He always likes to bring unused punctuation and an unopened bottle of wine to EE’s poker nights.

The odds of winning big at Five Card Stud are so much more lucrative than winning at love.

Sylvia sits cross-legged on top of a table, hunched over the lone copy of Ted Hughes’ work.

She rocks repetitively back and forth, obsessively rubbing her index finger raw over the same line:

         In the morning, they wore each other’s face…

         In the morning, they wore each other’s face…

        In the morning, they…

The scent of patchouli and boiled potatoes snaps her concentration.

He is here.

Shakespeare’s face flushes with anticipation as he offers Sylvia a spring bouquet of sonnets, words carefully plucked at pre-bloom and delicately arranged just so.

“Did my heart love till now?  For I never saw true beauty till this night.”

With a barely discernible bow of the head, Shakespeare lays his literary arrangement on the table at Sylvia’s knees.

The unexpected action startles Sylvia out of her compulsion.

She begins to recite:

         I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

        I lift my lids and all is born again.

        (I think I made you up inside my head).

It is such an extreme Mad Girl Love Song.

Sylvia stares directly at Shakespeare and repeats the passage – one of her eyes is wide open this time, while the other is shut in a tragic wink.

Does it mean she, in fact, reciprocates his love?

Shakespeare is more enamored than ever now.

He gets down on his knees and pines like Romeo – he jumps to his feet and bellows like Petruchio – he spins and cavorts like Don Pedro at the ball.

Slipping unnoticed off the table, Sylvia pads down the aisle in her stockinged feet.

She really prefers her own drama, thank you.

Soon she is sipping wine right out of the bottle while sitting on Ginsburg’s massive lap.

Soon she is dangling apostrophes off Cummings’ earlobes and pulling in all the poker chips after winning a hand.

Tragedy becomes her in a way.

“Good night, good night.  Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

Shakespeare blows a kiss at the empty spot on the table where Sylvia once sat.

Only the skeletal spine of the Ted Hughes’ paperback remains.

Rushing over to the reference desk, Shakespeare reaches behind the counter and brings forth a large pair of scisssors.

“What light through yonder window shines.”

He runs with scissors to his favorite desk by the window, the one always bathed in moonlight, and begins to carve.

A jagged line obliterates the proclamation:  “Shakespeare hearts Anais.”

It is lovingly replaced by the wonderful cursive:  “Shakespeare hearts Sylvia.”

Dead poets should never be locked in the library together overnight.

Copyright 2010

EVAPORATION

It is a morning ritual, this posting of the letters and watching the mystery of your name tattoo across my face.

I can barely sense the seam that separates us in the steam of the mirror.

And I know I have never witnessed that exact moment where you disappear and I am left with myself.

Copyright 2010

PENANCE

The scent of incense smothers the air while the promise of miracle glistens on her lips.

She reminds him that there is no sin so grievous that the right prayer and the price of penance cannot wipe clean.

He straps his sordid soul to the roof of his Dodge and spends every last penny at the self-service car wash.

Why risk the chance of hell when there is heaven right here on earth?

Copyright 2010