Cafe Pantoum

The bell rings, another customer.
Smile plastered in place, I look up;
another hour, another dollar.
The things we do for love.

I look up, smile plastered in place,
How was your weekend?
The things we do for love
aren’t always comfortable.

How was your weekend?
“Mostly we just slept.”
–something not always comfortable
to admit, with your lover working beside you.

Mostly we just slept,
but there’s still tiredness under my eyes,
even with my lover working beside me;
it’s like a forced march into tomorrow

with today’s tiredness still in my eyes;
another eternity, another dollar.
Like a forced march into forever:
the bell rings, another customer.

augury for the beginning of one of the coldest januaries in living record

the day we left dad’s, snow
ghosted down across the back deck,
slowly painting the grey wood
white. swaying heavy
on skinny limbs overhead, vulture after
vulture fixed a black stare out
into the yard at some death,
some dying we couldn’t see.
no thrashing of a creature in pain,
no blood, no movement:
all we saw was the rust of dead leaves,
the bony outlines of oaks at the end
of another long year. and still
they sat, and still more came, and sat,
and waited. at least 20, 30, their backs to us
as we looked up, and wondered,
as we loaded the car and drove away slow.

unseasonable

 

in the street, a small boy hums the twelve
days of Christmas under a hot June sun.
cobwebs gather like cotton in the windows
in a matter of days; i stay
up too late reading stories i already know,

wage war with my body, long to sink
drowned in a hot bath, or back down
onto the cool stone floor
of the kitchen where
you made me forget the heaviness

of my skin, where gardenia slips
through the screens– the plant
they said will never make it
through the frost.
every movement of my hand

is hedged; even dreaming;
even sweaty against the tile, there
are still more clothes to wash,
still more doubts to run clean.
it is hot for this time of year, we’re told,

no relief in storms.
it’s five a.m., and a firetruck screams red
& white through crust-eyed darkness, winding
its labyrinthine, becoming distance,
still; soft; threat.