DivertimentoHe's drawn to her professional tango voice, honey-slick for a precise number of minutes, an equation, a sequence, an interlude to amuse, to divert himself. Divertire, divertere, divertiss, devertir. In between turns she watches the sky for signs, cleans the chimney in case he drops in, lights the fire, always waits and tends the fire. She is a rag soaked in gasoline. She is instrumental, a chamber work in several movements, hears Mozart as owls fling themselves from linden trees under magnetic influence. He swings, an erratic compass needle. He feints, admires the symmetry of her breasts, her arched eyebrow, the timbre of her voice singing arias from the bath, Don Giovanni, all the blood running out. Ebbi le mie ragioni. È vero?AviaryShe lives now with stutters & whores just as her grandfather predicted, [fire eater, human blockhead, bed of nails] watches the neighbor's window dim or festive at dusk, drinks a bit more wine each day, empties the bottle by six, speaks her father's language the closer she gets to affection, to drunk, [appellation d'origine, cru classé, vin de pays] finds owls in the cupboard or gripping the towel rack in the bathroom, asks them to leave, uses a polite voice, open vowels. Her chair scoots three inches to the left every night & bites her wrist when she sits [blind bite, jewel line, torn cloud] thinking earthquake, the floor thumping up like a fist and she shivers, gold and red, folded into herself, belly full of hummingbirds.The Margaret Poems
At The Lucky Day LaundromatSix turquoise chairs were welded at the hip. The whole row moved when Margaret nudged it with her foot. She sat on the floor by a dryer, watched the circle and fall of a striped sock, rocked a bit, hugging her knees, breathed the antiseptic scent of fabric softener, bleach, shirts spread like cormorants on green hangers, the basket's tussle and squeak as the attendant wheeled by scraping lint from mesh screens. Margaret wanted to burrow in warm clothes; sheets, towels, trousers, the shed skins of children. She pressed her cheek against the plastic door, then her mouth, flush and open. She swallowed the servo hum, ate motor, churn, cog and oil, the ping of coins sliding home.How Margaret FallsShe falls again, splayed on hands and knees in the parking lot of the Italian restaurant. In the car, she digs small stones from each palm, the top of her left foot– a botched stigmata. It's like this, she says, I got up too fast, dizzy from gin in a glass thin enough to bite. She lights a cigarette, throws her ruined stocking out the window. I lean across the steering wheel, lick Brazen Raisin lipstick from her mouth, tongue her overlapping tooth. We are not, we are not, we are not what you think. Margaret presses fingers to eyes, arches her foot once, twice, against the dashboard.Margaret Watches The MisfitsIt's the way Marilyn's mouth moves; upper lip swabbing her teeth, a constant undulation. Her long breasts slope, loose against the white blouse, its little darts tucked for women without breasts. Margaret unravels the fringe on her bedspread one braid at a time, fanning the frizzed yarn. In a year she has made it nearly half way around. She sips port from a child's plastic cup, hair a brown scrub. All that Nevada dust presses into her clothes, pushing, insisting. Clark Gable's paunch sloops under his cowboy shirt, new jeans pulled up to his chest. Eli Wallach pumps his fat, clumsy legs against Marilyn's ass. Margaret pours another cup of port as they suck at the blonde's mouth, lift her off the porch, their white arms soft as bread. The mustangs kick and jerk at Margaret's ribs. Hooves, sharp blades, pummel her heart. She curls fists against stomach, dry hair wisping as she leans toward the floor to smooth the bedspread with her hands.Margaret Trims Her WicksMargaret has a plan for becoming famous or at least knowing someone famous or fucking someone famous. The details aren’t clear. She controls critical aspects 1. dirt/mold along the window sill 2. organized cupboards/closets 3. under the sink 4. bathtub rim 5. something happened She doesn’t give a ratsass, she says, for men. She cleans and cleans her house, hands rashy with bleach. This has been her job for months. That, and being sick 1. eu-phe-mism Margaret makes lists, thinks this might speed things up. She listens to the police scanner at night, all channels clear, squelch, dispatch voice bringing crime live! into her house 1. Ocean Charles X-Ray copy that 2. suspect drives a dark blue Ford sedan 3. woman finds her front door kicked open 4. what happened in her bedroom what It’s not a very good plan. Margaret reads all the latest how-to books but does not follow directions clearly, does not meet the required skill sets as stated in her behavioral profile 1. nursing home aide 2. fry cook/mechanic 3. await further instructions 4. composite drawing/identify Her face is beginning to wear. She still looks young but the muscles around her mouth sag. She hates this, wants to find a new face, practices saying her name in the mirror as she tweezes her browsNOTE: "At The Lucky Day Laundromat" first appeared in Stride Magazine, 2004; "How Margaret Falls" first appeared in Avatar Review, Summer 2000.
I - Simple Equations
II - Sleep Screen With Lavish Proportions
III - Defining Borders
IV - Bodies in the Rain
Current Issue - Summer 2004