What is it about Paris, that grande dame
with her jolie laide smile and her je ne sais quoi,
saucy hips of soft blond stone and
marble décolletages enticing love birds
of all sorts?
Sunlight filters through suspended cotton,
reflected in puddles that splash up her skirts.
Her eyes—windows of galleries and antiquaires—beguile
and bat their lashes, fluttering letters signed by Cocteau,
Colette, Flaubert, and Hugo,
or display Modigliani look-alikes.
Your ghost strolls with me through the Tuileries.
Among picnicking friends and lovers
the occasional lone wolf casts his eyes about
for the comely waif.
I imagine your touch boiling against my skin
as we walk, arm-in-arm, heels echoing on flagstones.
How our fingers would tingle with heat in the aftermath,
skin cooling under the sheen of sweat, listening to Piaf.
Non, je ne regrette rien…
and still I ponder the what-ifs.
it blistered, barefoot
that polaroid summers day
we stole your brother's car
and drove out to the lake
in the valley
where i nearly drowned
as a child
the rusted-to-fuck car had
no tax, no insurance
nor a handle on the passenger side
to work the window ..
you had to pull the glass up
or push it down
to close and open.
neither of us had a license to drive
nor were ever going to get one
i rolled joints and we smoked
while you steered and looked cool
in the shades i bought to filter
the sky into high definition;
you looked as good as the morning
we sat naked in the dawn sunlight
outside Tim the hippy's tee-pee
at Glastonbury Festival ..
his girlfriend Lizzie
had her eye on you, the sort of eye
that saw you under her,
eyes closed and a smile
on your mouth ..
mix-taped into Happy House
out of the crappy speakers
on the rear window shelf
vibrating through the frame.
i thought of Medusa in a cave
dancing with her snakes
time changes with the landscape
as we drop into the Cotswold shires
household to civil war Cavaliers and Puritans
market-towns and ancient pig-farms
- we slow to a crawl in keeping with
the moment that viewed us like owls -
domain of the overt villager
and private school boarder
where once i was
happy to burn smuggled tobacco with friends
in a boundary hedge
feeling the power of breaking rules
while remaining in the confinement
our bones, one day, will adorn quiet graves
in rural churchyards
only the rich can afford
how curious the fact
that the filth of the truly depraved
offers a pathway to understanding
where we go to seek experience
transcending banal convention
i saw through the lie that justice
only belongs to those with power and
knowing this i could die right now.
i am comfortable with that
but, i don't want to drown
that scares me more than dying
scares me more than you
the only sex
i could taste
final stage orgasmic disconnection
rocket boosters falling to earth
every childish thing i threw away
the contrast of that long-ago day blurs
as some memories refuse to come into focus
staying soft round the edges
when i was underwater
the long, flat weeds reach out for me
wrapping around my arms and legs
grasping the corners of my mouth
trying to steal the last of the air
in my lungs as i sink into silence
of never knowing
always drowning you
and beneath a quaint English sun
oak trees become witness
to something on the water
which makes you laugh out loud
the shape on the water
can be nothing else
floating like that
back to sky
and we drive to the nearest town
to call the right people
then return to the lake and unpack the picnic
to enjoy dry lemonade
and red pepper quiche
while forensic ghosts
poke and prod the wet hump
just above the waterline stinking the air
the perfect counter to this idyll
to your beauty
stoking my furnace
incinerating what little shell
i could muster
in the circumstance
the Body in the Lake
A tube of Brylcreem. A brandy
old-fashion sweet. Two oars
from a bass boat. Dirt from Ireland.
A Tiger Moth. Rope, some sky,
some lake water. Stations
of the Cross. Pall Mall straights.
Dirt from western Wisconsin.
North. Radio tubes. The bishop,
the knight, and a few pawns.
A circle, a line, a square. Assorted
words. Roses. Slowness. A Sarah
Vaughn album. Dirt from the corner
garden. Birch leaves. Some words,
some numbers. Some corrugations.
Golf clubs. Golf tees. A sleeve
of golf balls. Daisies. Weather.
Rain. An old window-frame.
Crickets. The pine rocker to sit in,
look from. The key to the mantel
clock. Hand dexterity to wind it.
Look at my hands,
aren’t they for picking wild daisies,
trapping a dragonfly?
My nails still short, without paint,
fingers thin, curling,
palms for all-day street begging
just enough for coins,
mister, why are you asking me
to feel the calluses
of your skin, touch its sweating,
a hint of your motive,
bear the pricks of your whiskers?
Look at my feet,
aren’t they for the grass drenched
right after the rain?
My toes missing the froth of waves,
the scratch of sand,
pale soles yearning for the frolic
of the morning,
mister, why are you soaking them
in your saliva, urine,
the viscosity of an itch, bare urges,
your shaking grip,
the malady of your sweet doting?
Look at my lips,
aren’t they blue from swallowing
the air, songs?
My mouth sealed, its ambivalence
to speak like a pipit
chirpless in our backyard, a grave
of bitter oranges,
mister, can I just take off my shirt,
close my eyes,
recall the noises before nightfall,
bite my tongue
while you watch me, then quiver?
If her wrists ache, forgive her:
They are freshly chiseled.
If her head rings, maybe it’s the hammer
somebody just laid down.
Others are quick to admire
her newly gaunt shape,
her willowy thighs,
the slope of her nape.
But her waist stings from the rasp,
and it appears she will forever be naked,
no hint of clothing in the scheme,
bare toes clasping a block,
that remnant of her soapy seam.
The sessions are long, and when she’s
left alone under a drape,
she recalls a coppery darkness,
the scrape of shifting plates,
the song of gems, and how she wept with aquifers.
Now her arms seem to be reaching
up for something - she worries
they haven’t finished her face -
wants a good nose -
She believes they will send her
birds to perch on her shoulders.
She believes her hands will become bowls.
What is her mission here on Earth...
...and do I even waste what chance I have
lounging beside my locker, checking-out
the girl from Mars? Nobody ever saw
her father's car: so maybe she gets dropped
at five a.m. by shuttle-pod somewhere far
beyond the football ground. She has no clique,
not even in the default group for freaks
and friendless geeks--I know; I've run with them
myself. How can you stand outside outsiders?
Unless intelligence, so alien
broods silent in one eye? It sees but does
not do; it won't join in; her hands so thin:
she writes machine-like, awkward and a touch
frustrated, as if paper with only two
dimensions is so quaint. She ain't stupid
in maths, she writes the answer first, before
the working out. And think of Martian sex!
Does she have tentacles...? Scratch that. Relax...
Focus on facts. She's drifted through these halls
for three years now, with always half a smile,
an emissary from mission control;
or maybe robot telepresence rig,
that sort of thing: space-probe or bomb-disposal
mechanism driven by a soul, distant,
the far end of a string that's pulled so tight
out of an empty tin. I'll ask again:
What is our mission here on Earth?