Eros Conversing on Riversbetween Life and Death
She is nipples and need,
Neruda, she is flowers and little deaths
and your river born in the Chilean Cordilleras
is no more or less than her creek
born in the Trinity Alps.
They are waters from latitudes
as strange to one another as you, Pablo,
who was born the year you
turned forty-three. She is now
sixty-two. Pablo, Pablo. She wears
your words in the froth of her skirts,
in the pink dawns of her thighs
where your music rubs days
into delights of darkness,
enters a womb of papaya and pomegranate,
of seeds ripened and scattered and rising,
and where these waters come
there is salt and there is beginning.
There is ending too.
Memory, alive as coyote
with no pheasant or vole to grip
with hungry teeth,
leaves her sere, this bone
of past days,
bleached as a skull
where water has been, until
she dreams the long tremulous windings
of your breath, Pablo, in her hair.
Then, what is inside softens and swells,
extends and ripens like plums fallen
with bright, heavy fleshing
to split and glisten,
to feed lemon bees, apricot wasps—
and they eat
as if no feast will again open for them
and glut them with such sweetness
bite by bite by ripened plum.
and the heart of the tree
is an amber bead pulsating
through the rings.
For this reason she wears your words, Pablo,
in the green days of dying and age,
the scent of static waters too close,
where moss hides the mirror
of sky from itself
and she will be soft sediment
pillowed on bedrock
without current above,
growing into all that has ever been
from her own bones.
But life breathes
moist from your Chilean lips, Pablo,
even across the miles of death,
your kisses, your tongue, Pablo,
between and upon her breasts,
of her heart like a ship’s bell on a rocking sea,
the ache she will satisfy
when you come to her
out of jasmine,
out of horizons quivering gold.
Who will care
that she is learning to smile
under water, laughing
beneath the snow melt?
Her flow will take her
to buoyant salt
and the river
from the Cordilleras will bring you, Pablo,
to meet; translucent hands
The sea is an orgasm
coming and coming and coming,
smoothing the broken glass of what has been
into jewels of nuance and grain,
shadow and light.
The hinged mussel opens,
releases its succulent self,
as does she, Pablo, raising her skirts high,
the looseness of the sea gliding in
and through, proving
you live, proving
she is alive.
Raoul’s TownWhen loved ones call, tell them I keep my head down and stay in at night. Do not detail the dead man you saw beside the green dumpster on the road shoulder near Tijuana, how his dark jacket was coated with holes where dirty fleece poked out or the angle of the bill on his ball cap which might have been red but looked like a shade of used motor oil, or the idea, after you’d passed his remains, of a puppet collapsed. And no details about the joint on Boulevard Benito Juarez where a drive-by left blood on bright cobalt tiles.
Does your uncle or son need to know this killing ground is on our way to pay another month’s phone service? Or how many died or how slowly or how quickly red turns to dust?
You should exclude the dark trucks with four and six men draped over cabs and tailgates holding guns, aiming guns—at the ready. And leave out the skateboarder who pushed clear of their steady path, and the girl with dark braids who practiced controlling that soccer ball, the girl who waved as they passed, and they, in their balaclava ski masks tipped their guns to wave back.
If they hammer you hard What’s going on? tell them the ocean continues to come forward and recede, erasing the sand of past deeds. Detail the shades of bougainvillea coming over white walls, wind in the palm fronds, halos at sunset trembling color for hundreds and hundreds of miles.
Say, I keep my head down. I stay in at night. Don’t tell them you listen for sirens. No. No need to mention that.
From NellTell him I have rum.
Tell him I have moon.
Tell him I have sun.
If he asks: there are horses the color of dun,
the color of sand, the colors of noon.
Tell him I have horses the color of rum.
Tell him how they run.
Show him their shadow on the face of the moon.
Tell him I have sun.
Tell him I ride hard. Tell him I am young
if he asks (but not too soon).
Tell him I have rum
and bamboo umbrellas unopened
but they could open, they could, and soon.
Tell him I have sun
to solder, moon to mend, horses to run
dunes the colors of midnight noons.
Tell him I have rum.
Tell him. I have sun.
Her QuinceañeraThat five-story billboard of Coronacerveza
on the face of eight-story hotel Festival Plaza—
is cheesy to the point of charming—most days.
Tonight, it’s enchanting. Curbside, she’s left
her carriage cocoon, a long limousine,
discarded. A flutter of balloon-skirted girls,
all their dresses snowy white, circle, as if
she’s the rose queen of a singular garden.
Shoulders bare, a gown of pink burnished gold,
tiara, four inches of diamond light blooming
from rich coffee hair—she glows and seems
aware. That courtyard beyond Festival’s doors
says this night is hers, festooned in firefly
lights and white gifts for her fifteenth season
of being. Now her fingers press down
the volumes of gathers,
her attendants hush their buzz,
the youths in their white tuxedos
straighten buttoned vests and shoulders.
She is moving from sidewalk
inside, that girl that is now woman,
hands loosely quiet, open,
a bevy of wings at her back.
Dia De Los Muertos ConversationsThere are the marigolds bunched to earth with flounces de amarillos, castanets on their sepals, dust narnaja on the garden fingers where little bones baille on headstones and sugar teeth are azul. There are the sombreros negros laced with silver, pumpkin seed pearls bleached blancas, cinnamon and manzanas rojas. There are the little bones turned of dust, noon or sunset, la noche y la mañana. They become the trickle that feeds stones and sheep with song. When they laugh, the wind sighs and silences, sighs and silences like bells hung on a new moon when la bruja’s skirts flash past.
The Lady of the Dead is dust and whispers to dust, telling them who sits with marigolds blossoming from their chests. She loves the sighs and silences between fists and bowls of grain, how the grain plays armónica, y el perro thumps la pandereta, and all the little bones dance.
When did marigolds learn flamenco? When did they don castanets?
When did I hear the little bones singing on their way to dust? The child girl with ears as long as a truck has climbed up the ribs of the woman to hear what she heard at one. And a smaller child, who nests inside, has climbed up the ladder of neck to hear the bells toll on.
I will hear them talking, one speck of bone to the next, and the next, and then they will turn to me, me with my azul teeth, me with my marigold skirts y camisas rojas, me with blossoms amarillos floating over this cabeza del azúcar where loco thoughts once curled, and we will dance, the way little bones dance, until we are singing water, until we are dew on the bells of the moon.
[first published in Nimrod, Univ. of Oklahoma, Tulsa]
A Request from la MesaChisel my grain with names,
she tells the knife, and asks,
also, for initials, wings, arrows
through hearts, and plus signs
of hopefuls. In the knot and
burl of all that I am, riddle me,
cross-hatch me, cut clean lines
with a clean steel blade. Script
a history for her friendless days,
please knife, and on scarred planks,
strike the stains. To each leg:
vine down time. Salute hours
with heart-shaped leaves. Grass
the minutes, knife, and rye them
high with seeds. Plant a tree (with
pears) where the missing can sit
at prayer, rattling clavicles and
absent tongues to the whittle of
what is, and never was. When
my grain is flooded, no more
a droughted pond, find her, knife,
ease into her palm, draw, with her,
a sorrel horse tethered where the
pears have dropped. Let her gallop
up from Baja to another field.
Six Poems by Lynn Doiron
Part of the PoetryCircle Showcase series.
sentimental, overblown, and scattered images to the four corners of the known poetry world.
one solid image:
toss everything before the neighbors come looking for an uptight poet who speak of Eros simultaneously with death.
The neighborhood cats wait at the butcher’s door,
and upstairs his curly-haired wife
has settled her breasts on the window sill,
watching the evening.
Half-light, spotless sky:
smack in the middle sits the evening star
sparkling like a glass of water.