Some Poems

ROOTLING

Little wrestler,
you snort, snuffle
and lunge;
latching on
like a cat
snatching and worrying
her prey.
Once attached,
you drag on me
like a cigarette,
puffing between sucks,
nose pressed close,
somehow catching
your wheezy breath.
Between rounds,
in your white wrap
you arch your back
for a rub,
like I’m your coach,
readying you
for newfound strength
in the ring.
Your fists flail,
fingers hooking
my nursing bra,
your feet curl and kick,
toes a feast
of tiny action.
There is nothing romantic
in this vital ritual,
yet I crane over you,
a loose sack,
liquid with the loss
of your form,
with the tears of labour
and lolling hormones
making me gush
along with my womb,
still churning out afterbirth.
So when
you dandle my nipple
with a gummy smile,
I tell myself
your grin’s for me,
even if you’ve got
that look
of a seasoned souse
on his most
delicious tipple.

DAY OF THE DEAD, NEW ORLEANS

for Lar Cassidy

You would have loved one last night
of the syncopated “Funky Butt”,
with Big Al rolling
his great, luscious voice
out of the massive black mountain
of his chest,
the boys lifting their silver trumpets,
the flush in their cheeks
going right up to their thinning hair,
while the tomcat on the piano
sends his hands a-jitter
for the “Charleston Rag”,
and the sweet molasses drummer
drops his long lashes
and shimmies his cymbal.

All the vaults in the graveyard
are rollicking their brollies
with the beat and swish,
twirl and flourish;
in the voodoo haunt on Bourbon Street,
the obeah woman’s hair stands up
with the tongues of serpents,
the clay ladies open their legs
and little heads peek out; even Christ on his crucifix
has all the time in the world
for dixie.

My tears roll
when I think of the freezing day
we tried to warm
with our drums and poetry,
when we laid you down,
and carried your jazzy hat away.

In this city
where your shadow
takes a closer walk
grief brims
like the upside down grin
of the Mississippi
with its sad, booming boats,
and I think of you as a great craft
powering down the current.

until your light failed
and you ran aground,
and we stood on the shore
in our Mardi Gras masks,
watching you sink,
wringing our hands;

and in your big marshmallow
and sweet potato voice you said:
“Laissez le bon temps rouler,
laissez le bon temps rouler.’

1997

CONFLUENCE

Beneath the amber hood
of the street lamp,
beside the black gates
of the somnolent park,
we are eyed by fanlights,
flanked by motionless cars.

In this blind Georgian lane
you lean in
to claim a kiss.

I offer you my goodnight lips,
staying like a shut purse
in your embrace,
wary after years
of opening too fast
my burns still hurt and proud.

Yet the sweetness of your mouth,
and your tongue — a luscious,
sinuous sea-creature –
is a feast I cannot resist;

nor can I pull back
from the strength in your arms
as you draw me close,
loosening your coat
to fold me
in your cinnamon heat.

Here it is, timeless,
a scene on a street:

a man and a woman
tongued and grooved
into one.

2000

Yearn On

I want you to feel
the unbearable lack of me.
I want your skin
to yearn for the soft lure of mine;
I want those hints of red on your canvas
to deepen in passion for me:
carmine, burgundy.
I want you to keep stubbing your toe
on the memory of me;
I want your head to be dizzy
and your stomach in a spin;
I want you to hear my voice
in your ear, to touch your face
imagining it is my hand.
I want your body to shiver and quiver
at the mere idea of mine.
I want you to feel as though
life after me is dull, and pointless,
and very, very aggravating;
that with me you were lifted
on a current you waited all your life to find,
and had despaired of finding,
as though you were wading
through a soggy swill of inanity and ugliness
every minute we are apart.
I want you to drive yourself crazy
with the fantasy of me,
and how we will meet again, against all odds,
and there will be tears and flowers,
and the vast relief of not I,
but us.
I am haunting your dreams,
conducting these fevers
from a distance,
a distance that leaves me weeping,
and storming,
and bereft.

Entering the Mare

(The inauguration of an Irish chieftain, as observed by Gerald of Wales in the 12th century)

She stamps and shivers,
her white coat vainly shrugging,
as the would-be chieftain
plunges in, burying deep
his puny, acrid man’s seed,
between her fragrant haunches.

The Goddess lives
in her fine rearing head,
the pink stretch of her lips,
the wide, white-haired nostrils.
Her hoof
might have crippled him,
her tail
whipped out his arrogant eyes.
Instead she jerks clumsily,
trying to escape
the smell of his hand.

Later he swims
in the soup of her flesh,
sucking on her bones,
chewing the delicate morsels
of her hewn body.

He has entered the Goddess,
slain and swallowed her,
and now bathes in her waters –
a greedy, hairy, foetus.

Rising from her remains
in a surge of steam –
her stolen momentum –
he feels a singing
gallop through his veins:
a whinnying, mane-flung grace
rippling down his spine.

Riding off on the wings
of the divine Epona,
he lets loose his dogs
to growl over her skeletal remnants,
the bloody pickings
in the bottom of his ceremonial bath.

Separator image Posted in Poems.

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