death of a houseplant (Rowdy’s Revenge)

photo courtesy of Josue O. Colop


Beside the chair
of sweatstained red
where I watch the city’s
freckling swelter
on sticky noon
Tuesdays, a lily
lies dying. Nothing
noticeable, mind;
a faint fading into
the badly primed
walls; a slow
yellow march
into composted
tomorrows. Wilted,
ailurophilic leaves
pulled floorward
by a gravity that could
kill us all. A lily lies
dying, and no amount
of hydrostatic
pressure-infused dew-
drawn drippings
can save it nor sweet
lullaby reverse the
slow spiral
down. A lily
lies dying; a lone brave
blossom lifts its
lily-head above the decay,
perches birdlike
poised for bloom,
an unfurling of pale
trumpets some unknown
dawn from now,
a defiant farewell.

present tense

unprogram yester-
day, its yellowed heavy
footprints. reset, re-
the borrowed air
he gave you in fistfuls
until sighing it drips
purified by sleepy gasps
of oblivion.

never was a forever; gold
greened with a patina
of rust-encrusted openings,
tetanus in a tumbler
you needn’t
carry with you
though the weight
pounds systolically
after your shadow
like a one-legged man
left behind
at the bus stop: lub-dub,
lub-dub, crutches
on hot cement, a coronary
noose you’ve
slipped up and over,
to land
on two feet, square.

you needn’t carry it with you,
the whiplashed flagellation of
if only,

up the slopes of
tomorrow’s mornings
and into your first
real today
in years.

untame, still

Her eyes
are like young mares,
dashing wildly for some escape
to the chains her body has thrown round
tomorrow, tying it down
to this sad bed, these muted

It wasn’t like this,

There was a house with a garden
and a man who tended it.
He planted figs in the side yard
and brought home fried chicken for lunch on Sundays.
Together, they sat by the lake
and in the summer, the kids would
feed bits of stale bread to the ducks and turtles,
or string them on the old cane lines
to catch little sunfish.

There was no pain.

No drifting off into morphine clouds where
maybe, she still dreams of these things,
of painlessness.
Can she smell summer in her sleep?
Taste blackberries? See the walk
lined with purple flowers, hear
the wind over the water?
She scratches at the oxygen lines
as if at mosquito bites, moans.
Her eyes, underneath
pale lids, are like young mares
searching for some lost meadow.
Can she hold my hand
and remember