Talking To Him

I can’t call it chat;
seems to light, too free-
and it wasn’t but

it was good
in a self-searching way
that I wasn’t prepared for
or aware of until
skin was already peeling
away in painful strips,
bloodless yet weeping-

I felt them fall,
drifting in dry and dusty piles
beneath my anonymous desk
somewhere in river town
and I wanted to
gather them up-

stick them back
to my naked self, shivering
and unprotected,
weak and wanting.

idle words bared me
like a lover couldn’t
like a confessor might
like a surgeon skilled at the craft-

and voices screamed
from the opened wounds
voices with names that can’t
be counted, faces that won’t be gone.
Their tongues scrape my edges,
dig furrows through the bone yards
that carry my weight-

and I stumble,
I tire, I wonder
will it always be the same.


Bored With Pink

She wears black everyday,
widows herself
from the Ivory girls,
scrubs the scalloped parts
until they’ve lost their seashell hue-

At night she sheds,
sits cross-legged in blue shag
and draws scarlet bracelets
from her wrists, Exacto circlets
around her throat in crimson beads.

Blue On Blue

3:16 AM, emergency entrance, county general-
I was propped against the rear doors of a rig
parked in Bay 5, close to where the docs smoke
with cigarettes tucked behind their palms,
furtive anarchists flicking ash at the don’t-do-that sign
while people shift back and forth around them
and I was thinking about this tweaker kid
we brought in on a dead run; skull a cracked vault,
his secrets betrayed on the floor beneath my boots

I was thinking about how he wouldn’t
stop breathing; how the noise of anatomy
dogged collapsed lines in fibrillating waves

I was thinking about a girl in a dirty blue skirt
sitting on a curb with his blood on her knees,
how her face pulled away in the rear-view like a scream

I was thinking about how an intern
with two silver loops in his ear hummed ‘Blue on Blue’
under his breath as we gave our report to a nurse

I thought about these things
I watched the guards watch me
I didn’t clean any secrets from the rig
I did sit down on the step plate
I picked at the wick of my Zippo
I whistled the intern’s song

somewhere behind me
a girl with bloody knees sits on a curb
pulling threads from the hem of a cheap skirt.



She takes the six-forty
everyday, a real zaftig mama
running register at the Slavic Grill;
slack tits and hair and broad, flat teeth
stick perpetually to cracked lips
like the biting aroma of onions and cabbages
sticks forever to her skin and

it floods the bus in sudden clarity,
passengers think of home, of sweet sausage
for supper and tired wives with tight asses,
angry husbands with hard hands and
nobody knows her name is Zinnia;
sour old maid but somebody’s flower

and no one will guess
she takes the six-forty everyday
on a three-stop ride to see her daddy-man,
fat black butcher who strokes her heavy head,
kisses dry lips slick as they slap needy meat
together until their pores spit vinegar,
until the starving empty tastes onions, cabbages.



Loretta wears an Angela Davis sphere
picked to perfection atop a broad skull,
colored insolence-orange to compliment
her red-bone tone and the white boys love it-
or so they say when they say something at all
to a picayune yeller waiting table for tips

she saves for three months strong to buy
suede kitten heels and a rayon fluted skirt-
fine as anything the white gals sport
down at the legionnaire's hall on Saturday nights,
kicking ankles and hems to black-balled beats;
but she can't go where she can't go so

she dances to echos in the outside lot while
old men pass bottles on benches nailed to brick-
they blink like Lazarus as she bumps and grinds,
their laughter cracks across the gravel like
cartridges jacked into waiting breeches,
as cold as a cocking trigger.