Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Supplication

A hawk stands on a branch beside the river,
a gargoyle atop a cathedral of trees.
The congregation stills itself, and whispers
in the thin October foliage, not me.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving at the Portland Art Museum


Soutine's little pastry chef is doing his best
to prepare the meal with the ingredients at hand. There's no turkey, 
but the Lipschitz Prometheus is strangling a vulture
that could pass for some kind of poultry,
and Courbet and a couple of the Dutch offer a variety
of fruits and vegetables, looking more real
than the ones the rest of us will be eating.
Father Wood's stern portrait will be there,
as well as Soyer's poor Russian woman, though they'll make her
chainsmoke her menthols outside.
Dinner will be served in the Native American wing, of course,
where the hollow Kwakiutl masks will hover around the feast dish,
trying to work up an appetite.
The cardinal will deliver the blessing, nearly yelling
to be heard over the cobbler's children
who wiggle at the card table, tickling all the baby Jesuses.
Afterwards, everyone will return to their hooks and pedestals
to sleep it off, leaving only Hanson's poor dishwasher
to clean up alone, until the Russian woman shyly approaches
and asks him for a cigarette, and if he'd like her to help dry.

(Thanks to LaValle for the idea)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saltines

We waltzed across the surface of the cracker,
stepping across the stones of salt, cautiously skirting the holes.
You and I, tiny Fred and miniature Ginger.
Your black toes gleamed, your construction paper tux was immaculate.
My gauzy gown furled and unfurled like a morning glory,
clinging to my curves. There was cellophane stretched
across your open mouth and when we smooched,
my tongue smashed against the barrier of smooth plastic.
All four of our hands were shoved inside a single pair of kid gloves.
Arthur Murray would have been proud
of his pupils shrunk to the size of cake decorations.
 Foxtrot, cha cha, samba, quadrille;
we danced them all across the cutting board,
our countertop dancehall lit by the orange glow
of the stovetop spirals, and at the end of the night,
when we climbed back up into the cupboard,
we fit together perfectly; one of us the slot,
the other the flap inserted to close the box.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Desert Windfall

Stationed in Kuwait, ostensibly to fix generators,
you steal apples to feed Adam, 
the base's lone resident camel.
If caught, you could face a courl marshal.
You stand before a wall of sand, hair too short
To be ruffled by the wind. Your fatigues
appear splotched with dust and vomit.
Your emails are agreeable and bland,
No doubt rifled through for digital contraband.
Still, you tell your wife about the apples,
And she tells me, our conversation
Punctuated by static and silence
No doubt the army brass has more pressing matters to attend to
than pilfered fruit, than a dromedary's cidery diarrhea.
There are wires to be strung across the desert.
There are driverless caravans to command.
There are steel-tipped seeds to plant.
Finish your job and come home, my friend.
Your house still stands intact outside of Denver.
The wildfires you watched from your porch 
Have been extinguished
Keep humping your toolbelt through the dust.
It's autumn here and the orchards burn 
And burst with apples waiting to be picked