Bellwether

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When I was seven, my mother pried me away from the porthole. They had told me Uncle Ezi was gone among the stars. I did not understand then that they meant he had died. I wanted only to hold the stars.

At twelve I learned the stars’ names, which ones belonged properly to the Alliance and which had gone colonial. Colonial was a dirty word, low-caste and anxious. We walked the line, miners, stealing from planets too small for the name, among stars marked firmly Alliance on the maps.

You can have the stars, now; I’ll take the space between.

July

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In the summer, when the power lines ummmmm
and crackle, when the tar
melts underfoot and the world is fragrant

with the smells of summer, fragrant
with heady lavender and the rose bush is full of the ummmmm
of bees carrying home their weight of honey-tar:

Your eyes are black as night, as coal, as tar
and the dark space between neck and shoulder is fragrant
with salt and sweat and your mouth is full of yes and ummmmm-

In summer, ummmmm, in summer the smell of pine tar in your hair and the world is fragrant.

An indiscreet moment

I tangoed up to the Vice President’s residence
wearing no more than my makeup and skin
and soon the Vice President entered his residence
talking malarkey and reeking of gin
But when the Vice President’s presence was evident
I became tongue-tied and half-paralyzed
and that’s how I toured the Vice President’s residence:
thinking of talking points high on my thighs

(we were discussing problematic crushes at the #DNC when someone who may or may not have been Joe Biden said “the Vice President’s residence” and, well, this pretty much wrote itself after that.)

Swallowing

I never heard the sound of it
but when I listened to you speak
and then it was my only truth:
I could not look away from you

I watched your lips adopt its form
your tongue reshape itself to fit
around the thing between your teeth
as liquid and as light will do

I mapped it out from north to south
and east to west between my hands
I traced it with my fingertips
this alien, this fledged cuckoo

I would not change the form a bit:
the shape of my name in your mouth

 

 

Trying on a bref double for

Privateer

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When all the world was made of wooden ships
And night was scarred by pools of lantern-flame
I tasted words like honey on your lips

My voice was made of swords and pistol-grips
Of weapons brought to wound and scar and maim
When all the world was made of wooden ships

But all my force could not force ownership
While occupation I swore and proclaimed
I tasted words like honey on your lips

I wrote a travelogue with fingertips
From here to there and back from whence I came
When all the world was made of wooden ships

I mapped my journey out upon your hips
And charted lands I’d later come to claim
I tasted words like honey on your lips

Though over the horizon I have slipped
And can’t recall when last I heard my name
When all the world was made of wooden ships
I tasted words like honey on your lips

Clockwork

We fit against each other
In places where her
Memory still chafes my skin

Your eyes are brass, your fingers
Carved from pine and fir
Your hair is fine-hammered tin

You tighten a bolt, tinker
and fiddle; falter
when I’ve begun to begin

Strongholds

I’ll bar no doors against you, dear
Though high stone walls surround me here
My moats are filled with bitter rain
Watched over by a barbican
To test your will to persevere

And when you creep with bandolier
And bayonet across the plain
Expecting steel and lock and chain
I’ll bar no doors against you.

When in the closing of the year
You come again to commandeer
My citadels, my heart’s domain,
These keeps I’ll yield to your campaign
You’ll need no sap nor bombadier
I’ll bar no doors against you.

Little rondeau here for the poetry slam at yeah write.

Oświęcim

It is 1997. The room is full of suitcases chalked with names, dates, numbers.

“When first I came,” the professor says through his grey beard, pointing, “I resented hearing always it was our fault, Germans. But this little boy, with my birthday.”

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