Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Under study

(Balcony scene from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet)

Music moves like a ghost
through my mouth,
sweeping the nave,
ruffling a breeze from
the nightingale wings
ribbed beneath their cage

And velvet folds
of encores’ gold
dust my powdered cheek,
as slippered toes
trace all shades of sin
from pas de deux

With quickening haste,
the urgency scrapes
from stage boards
bowed with sweat and lace,
up two knees,
weak with plié,
to land en pointe
between my legs

And I’m thrown,
up high,
on the fork of a tongue,
with a wrest of faith,
eyes star-crossed
by grands jetés
tossing their blue,
and red,
and indigo

Ay me!

She speaks.
To de Bergerac shadows
beneath a Russian skirt,
and yet I know whose fingers
suck at this bodice,
unlacing restraint,
smoking my blood
with their iambic
I know the hands,
born of a Bard,
O Romeo, Romeo

Anon, good nurse!
His love is deep,
Anon . . .

And pressed into
an arabesque penchée,
I lean for my love
with all that I am,
spread for a satisfaction
Will couldn’t pen,
wanting so far that toes
slip their grip,
tipping me tulle
over heels,
and on over a

So the nightingale
she drops  
but soft
through an air,
the cobwebs of notes
pretty pirouettes
of tethers unheeled,
past the inconstant moon,
with its cold, wary eye
under a hail
of applause
on this bone-
splintered night

Ay, me

So here I thud,
without any lark
or midwinter night's dream,
in a crumpled split
of pages pressed
upon cheek,
the line of drool
escaping my lips
too weak a poison to
kill the sweet sorrow
that I am not Juliet,
but Rosaline

Of the prosaic fate
to march my steps
up against Mrs. Hayes
and her multiple choice
English exam
to be taken first thing,
on the ground story
of E. Cleveland High,
west wing

You know the room,
second door on the left,
it has a grille over
the window
in lieu of

Friday, February 12, 2010

Silly Love Songs

("The Knife Thrower," from Matisse's Jazz series)

“Your hands are cold.”

“Your thigh is warm.”

“No thanks to those penguin fingers of yours.”

“Um . . .”


“Never mind.”

“That's what I thought.”

“It's just that, if you'll notice, my penguin—fingers—was it?”

“Keep it up.”

“Are now folded neatly in my lap.”

“The other penguins, in their other penguin cars, thank you for considering their safety. I'm driving here.”

“Of course . . .”

“Out with it.”

“It's Valentine's Day.”


“And you're wearing that dress. With those heels. And . . . stockings.”


“And it's Valentine's Day.”

“You said that already.”

“And I've fallen in love with you, Jenny.”

The car swerved across the dashed line.

“I'll say it again if you like. It's always been a dream of mine to die in an old Impala.”

Her lips twitched.

“I love you, Jenny. And not because it's Valentine's Day. And not for the stockings, either.”

Her mouth opened. Then shut.

“Christ, I don't know why. The why's not really the thing, is it? I just do. I'm like a teenager again. This entire month.” He shifted in his seat. “It's disgusting, really.”

She drove. He watched her face, illuminated by headlights, from the corner of his eye. Those lips still dancing.

Finally, she cleared her throat.



“My thigh is hot. Not warm.”

“No argument here.”

“No, I mean it's stupidly hot. I think I'm on the verge of spontaneous combustion, or something.”

“Oh. We can't have that.”

“No. We can't.”

His fingers grazed black silk. And climbed the sheer. Until they met with an unexpected ridge. Elastic. One inch, and a mile, across—

From rose petal skin.

“God. I think I lied. Before.”

“I know. You love me for these stockings.”

“A little.”

“It's okay. I wore them for you.”

“You did? I mean, I know.”

“Now you listen.”


“I'm going to pull off the road up here.”


“Because this is my kick-ass '78 Impala.”

“They really don't make them like this anymore.”

“With a backseat the size of a bed.”

“I love this fucking car.”

“And that's my glove compartment.”

“Also really great.”

“With my mixed tape for you inside.”

He flipped it open with his free hand.

“That I made for you the day after we met.”

He plucked out a cassette.

“Because I'm a silly, silly girl.”

He smiled at the first title.

“Whose knees are shaking.”

He looked at her, looking at him.

She slid deeper into his hand.

“And you're the guy who makes me believe in love songs again.”

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Tomato soup,
blood smooth,
rounds a spoon
like dewdrops
clung to a
spider's web,
upon the
seventh dawn

And baroque notes
kneel on
the windowsill
like votives
called to pray,
as her arm
stretches distance
at cost of speed,
in a draw against
cold gravity

The red sea
flows swiftly
through parched
and parted mouth,
dark eyes hold
tide with hers,
she nods but once,
his head falls slack,
and she draws
a breath
for two

Peeling the
sour cloth
from his breast,
she dabs it
along his chin,
taking the
savory basil
from his lips,
where kisses
once stood
like flames

And as the music
surrenders its glow
from someplace
lost below,
she hears
a darkness
start to scrape,
like branches
on windowpanes
at the turn of
some wayward

So she speaks to him
of simpler times,
recites his favorite lines,
while spooning
more warmth
between those lips
as a small,
act of faith

That fate
might bleed
some other
and leave the