On My Side of Sea: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 25

Across the sea,
where I have never been,
I hear there are ladies
much finer than I,
who dance in red dresses,
give kisses for money,
make bargains that I
never could make. I have
no velvet gown, nor lace,
and only my oven bargains
with me — will it burn
my loaf, my flesh, neither
or both today? But this
is its own kind of dance,
its own splendor, and I
want for nothing here
on my side of sea.


The Mummified Head of France’s King Henri IV: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 23

The mummified head of France’s King Henri IV was lost after the French Revolution until a few years ago, when it showed up in a tax collector’s attic.

— Mental Floss, “10 Facial Reconstructions of Famous Historical Figures”

Why was your head in the attic,
and why did you smell like
“garlic, feet and armpits” —
enough that this fact would
go down in history? Maybe
you had bigger fish to fry
than a modicum of bathing.
Maybe you were busy being
a good king, dancing at
the peasants’ garlic feast,
waving your arms and making
various proclamations as
your feet strained against
your stockings. I confess
I don’t know much about you
other than your stink
and your mummified head.
I guess that’s what
a life comes down to:
Some idiot like me
writes a poem like this,
ignores the fact of
your murder by zealots,
whatever it is you tried
to do with your time, and
whatever put the twinkle
in your reconstructed eye.


White 10 in a Red Swimsuit, White Swimsuit Perfect 10: NaPoWriMo 2015, Day 23

White 10 in a red swimsuit, lines everywhere of coke
you look like a Coke can sun rays bouncing off your
curves all around if I hated you then, I hate you more
now in your white swimsuit perfect 10, Bo Derek, the sun
rises and sets on you these are not elephant days
these are not days to write home about
these are not days when I feel flesh-colored
and fabulous and sit by a pool eating Twizzlers
and drinking Tab and not caring about cancer
or anything else that I can’t see and don’t have
to care about yet, not while we all still live in this
apartment complex Shady Arms, where you are
the godforsaken queen someday you’ll get wrinkles,
someday you’ll get moles, someday I’ll look down
at you in your box and still be jealous of you
because just like any other day you will
still be the finest one of all.


Paloma in the City: NaPoWriMo 2015, Day 22

She pieces the morning together,
this pigeon; I hear her beak
clack against the sidewalk
outside the city college
each time she tries to burst
a brittle plastic wrapper that holds
a few small crumbs of something.
I double back and offer her
a bit of crust from the leftover pizza
that I’ve brought for lunch.
And I wonder a few things:
If anyone saw, if I’m now part of
the Urban Pigeon Feeding Problem,
if I’m bound to get a ticket,
and also if it was best
to fill her stomach with dough.
But I gave her something—
what I had—and she seems
glad to take it, shaking free
one bite at a time as people
weave around her work.
The next day, I’ll recall
a drink I once had in Mexico:
tequila and grapefruit soda.


He Pierces the Morning with Fresh Urgency: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge

In our courtyard,
in the tortured and trimmed
hawthorn tree, whose blossoms
send their stink into our front window
every early June,
a male cardinal puffs himself up
in a topmost branch
and sings so loudly,
so persistently,
that I worry that he’s calling
for his lost mate.
So often, you see them
first one and then the other;
when you spot the flash of red,
you know to look also for rosy brown,
winter, spring, summer, or fall.
And now there is only red,
and he pierces the morning with
fresh urgency.
Maybe it’s only an announcement:
This is my tree.
But then, where is she?
Maybe in the bushes below.
Maybe waiting until I go away,
until I stop watching and listening
for the answer to his call.