4 Poems: shots / Ceto / sleeve / sev’n

shots

 

Death drops onto the stool next to me
nods
(can you doff a hood?)

 

psychopomp arm reaches into the well
grabs a Heineken
pops the cap with curved scythe
sighs & takes a slug

 

“Long day?”

 

Thanatos nods

 

“I get it.”

 

Mr. Reaper wants to tell me how I don’t – how no mortal can know the burden of carting off C/overscore souls each twist of the Mother to a wobbly ferry raft – just the trouble of coming up with enough coins – I can almost touch the smooth sorrow in his sockets

 

“bartender, shots for me and my friend – neat”

 

the keep fists two shot glasses
onto the Dutch elm bar
leaves the bottle
we use jiggers
blue label precision sinners

 

“look, Pesta-Hel, I know you think no one understands. But let me tell you a tale.”

 

3 a.m.
driving home
cat in the road
flat feline
crushed left of middle
pancake flat
crawling forepaws
reaching like a three-toed sloth
to drag itself out of bone-crushed misery

 

it begs for death
just inches over the curb
O, the infinite lap

 

Death cocks an as-if brow
runs a phalanx along the blade
remembering?

 

“that’s right”

 

180
pushed the pedal
aimed straight for the head
to save that miserable beast

 

* clink *

 

“cheers, to mercy”

 

skinless smile

 

and then what?
that Grim bastard
walked out on her tab
stiffed me

 

still, I’m not cross

 

 

*****

 

 

Ceto

 

vessel filling at the sink—
scale too slow to build
F – A – C – E
so many drops
drips to line, inching inching
upward in epochs

 

white noise
left it running
right foot plunging
amaranth skin

 

I spend a century
redirecting Hudson Bay
into my tub
but still it could boil eggs

 

then there are the days
when clouds encircle the Jericho of your youth
you pull your ball cap down past your nose
and cast glowing coals at the gods

 

because the rain
because the rain
because the rain

 

water takes its time
its time
every ancient drop

 

because it can

 

 

*****

 

 

sleeve

 

i

 

Please pick up the stem glass
that I left on the yellow curb stone
Zinfandel
a tribute to you
an oblation
to moths that sacrifice themselves
to torch fire.

 

I reach down to Hades
I sing Orphic hymns
I search for your eye,
Eurydice,
to pull you back to all your possibility.

 

mourn
sackcloth
pack my pate with dust

 

I invent us daily
I imagine a world
with you whole

 

I would trade my victory
for your resurrection,
Anastasia,
and then erase that sleeve.

 

O, the interjection.

 

O, the unloved love.

 

ii

 

You can never outdrive the moon
Jezebel’s eye
that pocked pearl

 

You can outrace the king’s chariot
down the mountainside

 

But the queen
moves in all directions
from her color’d square

 

She’ll swoop and slice you
raze rooks
bewitch bishops

 

It’s all a game to her
that sets
with the coral morn

 

iii

 

wash me in coral
and accent of carnelian

 

it’s a beautiful day for a funeral – get out the ironing board

 

add some softener
spray that stain
rub the Egyptian cotton until the Ra comes out

 

a hush falls over the crowd
liquid sunset

 

bouncing on the diving board
star-spangled speedo
twilight cap

 

open the lid and dive right in
final gainer

 

the bugler purses his lips
and plays

 

iv

 

lady in the niche
marmoreal
& lithe
she moves
deft
like a partial eclipse

 

blur

 

supine?

 

blink

 

demure.

 

there’s always a body
beneath

 

somewhere in Amsterdam
a tourist snaps shots
o’er the top of
Rembrandt’s bones

 

somewhere in Rome
a student sketches
in the margins
of Raphael

 

sentinel
whose bones
or skin
do you
stand
over

 

lay me down to sleep
lay me down

 

 

*****

 

 

sev’n

 

On a day approaching Twelfth Night,
When the shadow of the ribbon on the wreath
struck me as the tail feathers of a kite,
I heard the call of plastic blooms.

 

So I walked among the cheap tombstones for a time;
each plot gleamed like a penny.

 

peck the flesh. peck. peck. bob.

 

A wake of vultures,
Turtleneck’d Carrion, the Guardians of al-Jabr,
cleansed the Earth
of an orange and white tabby

 

peck. peck. bob.

 

Feline medallions. A bit undercooked but can’t complain.

 

peck. peck. bob.

 

There’s still a manger under my tree,
There’s still a skeleton underground,
There’s still a cat under Chevron tires.

 

But I’m under the impression that I’m above it all.

 

Yes, I’m under the impression that I’m above it all.

 

 

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