X: Rivers of Sky



it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I'm telling you about it
-Frank O'Hara


Alone in the dark I burn
houses you leave, my beehive
mind making lovers
helium-float away, mothers
evanesce into wrist-
poised instruments, slips
through self-ish fingers.

In the dark, Alone
slowly chokes me;
moss on tree.


Four paws hammer
the span of my plywood back.  
She foots me
with a millipede's mil
shakes me awake
in a ritual I love to hate 
ending with her, a circle
in my circle, flower
off the long, curved stick.


Frank, in my dream, I say 
write me a flower.
Make me your kind of boy.
Find this body in your back.


White bowls stacked bowl in bowl
brimming in the hutch like nesting dolls,
like white: we know within it
roils a prism of color
though all we see is light.


Geryon's wings veiled by a trench coat 
shushing adolescence like balled sheets burke 
a wet dream—  Baby,
I wouldn't want anyone to see me either,
all my red monsters licking their wings.
Soon, my body will fit its jeans.


How I know a heart is fisted
is your ear on my chest in the morning,
warmth between us like water
in a wet suit, disquieting
beats like a woofer in a club 
and still you name this ire not ferocity
but love.


I use a battery-operated – insurance 
against oversleep come
from an outage's corollary
noon-blink on the digital –
even though it means I cannot snooze
(no lazy bars on these tocks)
risking oversleep anyway
since when it rings my body
turns it off without waking.


Don't wash in the morning
just let water make runnels out of you,
keep coffee from the spray and decide
what to wear while the hot slowly goes
like clicks on a timer
whose final tintinnabulation signals, only


besides being my shoe size
is the number of hours I waste
five out of seven
days a week, like this:
one to check email.  One
to drink coffee. One to write
a poem and half to lunch.
Then it's food and the dopamine 
eye of my mind in which I see 
a small and glimmering 
you that makes the last four drag 
like a sermon.


At 10 a.m. I know
you're still sleeping in the bed.
I read off someone's paper
pinned man lifts 10-ton vehicle off self
and surely this is a miracle,
you still sleeping in the bed, me
more than a mirage away, sweltering 
like a rolling summer road:
there I am (see me!) so small
in the crook of your arm.


Your solar plexus
is the origin of scent

and your hip bone
to your belly button to your hip

again, in figure eights,
is the origin of me.


Sun through spaces
in an overpass: bread and jelly
in the air on 14th;
sausage spices dueling down Duboce.
A pigeon just misses.

When you can no longer see the skyline,
that means you're in the skyline.


My dentist says I have two
small cavities back to back
like twins arguing height

as if two primordial cavities
is the sum of gaps a life
of decamped lovers leaves.
     At two o'clock I laugh
at cavity, another word for longing.


I want orange like a dragon in my mouth 
so when I open to speak,
sunsets burn your lips.


When nuns said idle
hands are the devil's
matchbook I looked
at my celestial palms,
knuckles on formica,
a spill of stars in the lines
like thrown dice
and knew she meant
idle minds
like mine,
staring at my hands 
knuckle-up on the wood grain desk.


We open windows
in the corners of our office
to river wind, as if air
could cut carpet 
the way water cuts a valley.


You are a river of sky
I tether to, my heart a bowl 
of your making—

my potter, my pour.


The stuttering train,
the miasma of the too-close
rained-on folk, the flickering
lights keep me stuck
at this line, this one
fucking line, hand
on the cold metal stanchion:
I make the birds sing – listen!...but, for you.


Twilight, the blue wash 
Magritte-ing the sky 
over China beach,
where you and I become

take me on a wet, black rock.


Is there a word for what's done
by adding a suffix, as in flowered,
then making its opposite by mirroring
the suffix, as prefix: deflower?
you ask me on the aerie,
wind in the thistle.

I could pick you.

Floral Rest / Leslie Marcus


Your two cats on my calves like laundry,
you around me like a pea coat, and scarf—  
I don't dare pump the bellows of my lungs 
for fear of smothering what small fire’s 
born between us. 


My slew of kin living lives
three hours into my future
simply means
when the phone rings
too early
someone must be dead—

I can't roll out of bed
with sheets that freeze
when you leave them
the way snow crusts after rain.

Whatever it is will have
to keep 'til eight.


The rats' race begins
on a wire outside my window
at 11 p.m. I mistake first
for UFOs,
black disks against blacker black,
then for a lazy metaphor:
me in my nine-to-five.
But they are just rats, running
the shortest distance
from roof to tree,
like me (awake
when I should be) sleeping:
the shortest distance
to tomorrow.


Cold without snow, my cross, 
for moving so far
from family.  I miss
the white muffler,
the storm to run out in
nine at night, no shoes;
I miss my red-raw feet
with which I could steal your heat—

But there, there is no you.

Next : Two - Melissa Fondakowski / Leslie Marcus

Ours in a Day - Contents Page
Three - Fondakowski / Marcus
Four - Fondakowski / Marcus
Five - Fondakowski / Marcus


Current Issue - Winter 2004