Hours Associated With Harm
Four o’clock, when midnight blue descends,
Shuts down the fragment of accomplished
Living, way before actual midnight,
Melatonin surges on the sharp curve of parkway
Along the mountain pass. Creepers don all black,
Begin the shuffle through parks,
Where moments before
Color jumped, bats, and swings and shopping carts
Hustled. This is a different kind of hustle.
(But the hour changes with the season.
Body selling doesn’t begin as early
In Summer and Spring).
Three o’clock, the liquor kills cells,
Brain, spinal, central system slows,
Sopping up all the good liquid
Leaving nothing in its place.
The slosh down the street,
The heavy petting in public places,
Strangers become friends;
Everyone loves everyone else.
This is a different kind of love.
This is a strange kind of friendship.
Nine forty nine hunger approaches.
Cold macaroni and cheese stick to aluminum.
Warm milk burns the bottom of the saucepan.
Unease grips inside the organs, creating
Great Debate. This is the bad kind of great.
Nerves grate against grinding teeth.
Chains to the bedpost are not enough.
Notes hide under dust
fallen with breeze through doors
that should be closed.
Windows left open.
Bruises appear inside calves.
Broken glass on steps, ice in chests.
Mangled ankles and wrists on
ice in cabs, on gurneys.
Duffle bags left, purses stuck
between seat cushions.
Messages rushed, not left, unheard,
on wrong machines.
Wake up calls forgotten, not set, too late.
Full bed. Dented pillow. Shower running.
Metallic tongue. Tinge of brown.
No coffee. No kiss goodbye.
No morning paper. No chair.
The Agonies and Humiliations Of Circus Clowns
1. Stench. Mostly elephant shit.
Some horse shit. Some horse in general.
Some other wildcat shit. Bloody raw meat.
2. Hives. Discount white face paint.
Ingredients obscure and unpronounceable.
Must wear the paint all the time now to hide
the allergic reaction. That causes more hives.
3. Heat exhaustion. Polyester ruffled
jumpsuits do not breathe. Synthetic
orange afros trap in temperature.
Rubber red nose allows no exhale.
4. Puke. From children. From animals.
From adults. From each other.
The new ones overindulge in candied apples,
cotton candy, popcorn, candy corn.
The seasoned ones stock up, load up,
large soda cups filled with Absolut,
Bacardi, drink boxes and boxes of wine.
Christina M. Rau is the founder of Poets In Nassau, a reading
circuit on Long Island, NY. She teaches English at Nassau Community
College where she also serves as Editor for The Nassau Review. Her
poetry has appeared on gallery walls in The Ekphrastic Poster Show,
on car magnets for The Living Poetry Project, and most recently in
and Contemporary American Voices and Handful of Dust. In her
non-writing life, she practices yoga, line dances, and watches
reality tv (of which she is only slightly ashamed).
James H. Duncan