I AM NOT READY FOR SPRING
I am not ready for spring,
The bloody thaw of my frozen heart,
The blight of eager grass,
Earth aerated, releasing the miasma from my parents’ graves.
Let March hold fast, warrior like
To clots of snow and the devil’s ice,
Let the winds howl, returning April’s borrowed days.
I am not ready for spring and its betrayal:
Lingering light, the robin’s anxious gaze.
Jan. 14, 2014
IN MEMORIAM: KITTY GENOVESE ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF HER DEATH
Kitty resides on the tip of the easternmost spire of the Queensboro
The point of the spire is the crown of the city, and she is the princess
of Queens, long expired.
Her chopped salad hair and brows like loose tobacco
blow in the salt-seasoned winds, from The Island.
Timeless, still striking, she stares from the page, and speaks with a
voice, Four Roses-cured
Her eyes blaze with a fury reserved for those girls who are murdered
by men, who are strangers to them, whose eyes are the last eyes
She never knew ‘till that moment, the moment of parting, body from
soul, blood pounding in her ears, that anyone would notice a butch
from the borough. Whose eyes are the last eyes they see.
On the bridge’s high spire, she holds court with the others---the
jumpers forgotten, whores buried in sand, bodies in dumpsters
recycled, unclaimed but for seagulls in circles. Whose names she
remembers but the city forgot.
From her high spire, she followed the planes to the towers, baffled,
confused, strangely resigned, yet her wounds freshly oozed, stigmatic
Over sirens and horns, river rushing below, she surveys the
landscape, the twinkle and fog and for the very last time, (so she
claims), opens her mouth, lips chalky and cracked, screams into
chaos and waits.
WHAT HAPPENED, BILL?
You were my pudding, pop,
Sweet, chocolate, cool.
You made me smile, pop,
You played checkers, pool.
With those rolling eyes above a thousand-dollar smile.
Those fluttering lids flirted with my Philly soul.
You, the father of the City of Brotherly Love.
Your rifts tenderized parenthood's tough ride.
Little girls and boys, white and brown, sweet foibles to
Your spot-on droll delivery --- taking your time, till the punchline.
You were the Jell-O Man, lemon, lime,
Persuading me to suspend sliced bananas to the mix.
In juice glasses 'till the fruit became encased like an amber fossil
After some time in the icebox.
You were amusing, sir.
The homespun stool. Your slippery words... bippe, boppy, sabibby, bool.
The funny man's tool.
You were a Temple man, my legal alma mater.
You, Bill, were prime time, rising once again, your long face on white folks' tv sets.
What happened, Bill to make you fall from princely heights to gutter?
Makes me shudder.
And now you ask me to exercise good faith.
When words you said on oath crush it like a shot glass under a Firestone tire.
It's too much, Pops.
Too much to ask. Like ransom for a rat.
Me, a white girl, blonde too, loved you, really.
What happened, Bill, to you?
What made your sweet desire turn to sour curdles.
Bad milk, bad puddin'.
What made you want them k.o'd?
What happened, Bill, how do you explain this tragic turn?
Greek, Shakespearean, Grimm.
A son cut down by highwaymen?
A wife's embittered silence?
What happened, Bill?
Those silent fleshy women, inert, their eyes rolled back like dolls,
Their heads lolling, oh Bill... I can't imagine what got into you.
What curse drove this, drove and drove.
I'm done, Bill, gotta keep my street cred. Gotta say goodbye, Pop
Gotta say goodbye.
HALF AN EMPTY NEST
She always had wings, pink, fleshy, then white to silver and
Now she stands her back to me, and I see
The feathers are flecked with gold, translucent---light as air
Flickering, flicking, anxiously like the heart of a baby…
And I have always watched her on the thin icy branch,
As Her toes clutched, released, slid and caught the edge.
And now, this bird does what is programmed in thehelix,
She flies, and leaves behind not just me. But her soulmate,
Damaged sibling who worships and adores, torments and teases with
Huffs of bad breath, dirty feet and hourly howls.
He looks at me as she rises, wing aloft
He looks at me and then retreats.
There is no string or chain attached, you see.
No pulling back to beg for her return.
She inhales the sweet air above the rooftops,
Surveys the land, the roads and steeples
And looks back at us, only once.
Her brother stretches out his arm.
But she’s a shadow over a mountain now.
“It’s gone,” I say to him. Not her but it.
The time and care and words she used to comfort him
And bring him to a place where could love himself again,
Eccentric tricks, outrageous faces, body ganged up.
“It’s gone,” he says, softly squinting at the gold bright sun.
THE PINK BATHROBE
Please don’t launder the pink bathrobe,
It will never be the same.
Never as soft, scented, warm, and worn.
Amazon reported the item is no longer available,
And asked if I wanted it placed on my wish list.
The answer was yes, though I knew it was just another bit of data
Registered in the electronic ghost hole.
Joining the legions of brokenhearted pilgrims,
Whose neurons fire at the sight of a parcel,
With a familiar label.
When, for a nanosecond, old cells believe
UPS is the Pony Express,
And someone on the other end collected box and string, fashioned curlicues on capital
letters, and wrapped a thing in another city’s newspaper for me.