X: Rivers of Sky



          All the immense
images in me—the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and un-
suspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods—
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Violette / Leslie Marcus


I take a pillow,
and set it, like caulk,
into my side.


I keep dreaming about hair:
braid-length on my ankle,
leprechaun-red on my face,
Wayne's line skipping 
like a needle on scratched vinyl—
when men don't shave their faces
at first, turn green, like cash;
my thicket sticks itching so bad
I make fire in my sleep.


My eyes dilate in the last darks
of day's escape from blue
as the digital sparks
the room with cardinals
whose mouths ghost
write my walls with too early, go back,
you still have time and I can't remember what 
I have forgotten.


My stiffness echoes into ache at my ear, jarred 
from its press in the pillow, from the dream 
where you're leaving, my hands like question marks,
palms skyward as if sallied by rain,

and I'm standing there, prostrate,
for a really, long time.


I have a Pentium III
and it's pretty slow
but my mind has a Pentium Pi
that only dreams of slow
during Night's uncalled-for 
hours so I can sleep instead of fast-
forward through the story I made up—
the one where you run off 
with someone who is thinner 
and doesn't do this.


I've heard less electromagnetic
rays beam through your body
if you use a battery-operated…
but its 6 a.m. chirp isn't any less
offensive and still
brings me face to face
with a cracked mirror, puffy eyes,
and all that necessary.


Every morning my eyes face
the same white walls.
Who painted this slap-of-a-bathroom,
with its whites-of-their-eyes-white,
its White Light Walkway-white,
its clean slate-white blinding me, 
like saying a word so much
you can't remember what it means
or how to move your tongue.


O train, you are not sad
for you're in motion! and
everyone knows a body
was meant for motion 

though we move 
through this tunnel these stations
we're not moving at all 
which explains these faces.


Outside my office someone slams
the copier; the fax is out of paper;
the mail needs metering—
work is a thundercrack 
in the quietest part of summer.


Do I want you more
because I spin pencils
on the slick of my wood grain desk
and can't be in your bed just waking,
coffee, paper, cats in circles?


Start counting now, for it moves
slowly, this sworn-for day,
and be glad for your thermos
which keeps things hot long
enough for you to savor.


Six blocks down Valencia gets me
Modern Times in ten, leaving twenty
to thumb journals for my friends
and twenty to get back on time 
with my legs acting like a dodge ball
game and work is the ball.


Leave it.
You cannot sift 
the wreck because 
what hurt leaves

is hard,
and deep,
like a vein,
in a rock.


Push papers with your hands
you don't need them here
in the mind's panning of last night
for a reason to wear this hair shirt:

How can you love me?


Three o'clock pulls
a neck ahead
of my drowsy body.  I am
a lump in the office chair,
waiting with a hand on the mouse, 
like a hound, alone,
in a small, dark apartment
who curls in a circle
and presses closed his eyes.


I will see you in an hour
and the hazel idea draws me
like a bumble to bougainvillea—
not for purpose, but purple.

Joanne in Thought / Leslie Marcus


What is it that makes time
though it ticks hitchless, same
each day, sun arcing its usual
formations, moon rising
from its orange harvest—
what makes the train
so much longer to your house
than to work?


The sandalwood echo of your hair 
swirls around me like the thin 
blue smoke off a joss stick, want 
commencing its hot tea crawl from my center
moving out while we eat edamame, 
spicy tuna, and eel, our knees 
touching under the counter.


There is a spot at dusk
just past the last bon
fire where the dune cascades
into beach leaving a soft 
hill perfect for the imprint 
of your body, proposing
not with ring, 
but with recline, and arch.


Close enough to smell
your skin, I worry
about the eight-and-a-half
sworn-for hours.

Slouched in an ergonomic chair,
worrying when I'll see you again,
I am the surfeited vessel of my mind,
bloated, like a body in a river.


As soon as I get the number
I am going to call the pet
psychic and ask why 
you meow so much
you burned your chords
and sound like whiskey
going down.


Please teach me Einstein so I can stop 
making some hours long while others 
stop short.  I want to be like you: 
bird or no bird in the window, stroke 
or no stroke of my hand – it's all the same, 
all day, all night.


At least my father
who worked this much
had things: children, wife, house,
Pepsi, Oreos—all I have
is pieces.


I cannot make you stay the night.
They said have big dreams! 
and then but what will you do 
for money?  so I set the alarm
for six and still cannot convince you to

please, stay the night. 

Next : Three - Melissa Fondakowski / Leslie Marcus

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


Current Issue - Winter 2004