To Dream Of Byzantine

She admired Byzantine architecture, having studied it
one long ago summer under a young professor
whose ancestors lived and died in Crete;
he had carried in his suit pocket a Justinian coin
that he claimed was real though it bore no date.

She bends brass and copper wire
into facsimiles of the Hippodrome, of Hagia Sophia;
she sculpts the Theodosian Walls from toothpicks
and hides her face behind their structure.

On days when clouds bank the sun,
she fashions a toga from a lilac sheet
and dances circles around the courtyard;
the empress Theodora in scuffed sneakers
a wreath of yellow pansies for a crown.

Neighborhood boys sometimes toss tomatoes
plucked from their mother's gardens-
those that do not burst into ripe flowers
across lilac and brick she gathers up;
leaves them in a woven basket outside the gate
for the mailman or the milkman to enjoy.

She kneels every night on her polished floor,
carefully glues colored glass and stone into complex patterns
that grow from the baseboards in widening arcs.
She has a cat named Constantinople
who watches the process with calm indifference.
When she sleeps she dreams of San Vitale,
of mosaics and obelisks and reflected light.

Angelica Noir

lili Marlene Wore Red

fishnets and meted out blowjobs to guys in Soldat suits
on a screen ripped in the wrong places
while secret gentlemen sat scattered beneath the grainy show-
their names tucked behind faded faces,
and Lili had top bill above the Angelica,
where goodtime gals with cherry lips
circled outside under streetlamps-
lost things waiting for exodus.

Alice Found Mitchum

in a Noir house downtown; with maroon walls
and sprung seats and a projectionist named Mick
who spilled Captain Walker from his window on Wednesday nights,
pinned him to a hillside with Warnicki and Ay-Rab;
the weight of dead men hooding his face,
their shadows bone-deep behind his brow.


Two Sevenlings


Late peach pies dress sills, whistle-thin
voices gather in empty rooms and whisper
beneath doors, around corners, behind the cool

of cracked windows. The dead have come
to reminisce; they tell stories of our futures,
pat our heads while we sleep sepia-hued.

Outside, broad-crested elms click near-nude limbs.


In the long hall, dark descends on sock feet,
beyond the past where everything is perfect,
where time does not fall from trembled nightstands

to shatter-stop against a perfect hardwood floor;
where a cat does not roll, or purr recognition because
everything is as it should be, nothing has changed,

and hushed sounds behind doors ajar are always there.