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“Watch out,”

he said & disappeared into the crowd – “Nuts,” she thought but later in the day when the big brown dog chased her down the alley & a man waited with a van & . . . & by the time they got to Tucson the last she remembered was the radio & a voice that said the border was closed & he encouraging her to dance ‘in the light of the moon’ as it was full & when he took her in his arms & whirled her across the desert floor she gave herself to impulse & married him on the spot – for that night at least – & that’s what he’d tell his friends in Harry’s Bar until Sunday when she stormed the door & dazzled them with her footwork & backed him flailing into a night of no return when the lights went out & he’d never be seen again.

There Are Mothers

wheeling buggies over hot coals, messengers high on blue smoke & tabloids greasing the gears of genocide. There’s a father further down the boulevard dancing belly to belly with a boy in black who offers a chocolate kiss & hisses in his one good ear; his tongue a torch to light the way to heaven’s gate. There’s a mother practiced in cures for an ailing head but nothing for a heart awash in dread who worships at the door where a mouth delivers a basket of lies. This is no time to question authority, shutter your windows or leave in the dark. & yet, there are mothers huddled with children in the woods who barter themselves for a second chance. They’re tough & they’re wanton . . . between screams & whispers, they have & they will abide.

Haunted

There are men & women who cannot see the sun rise without suffering a crippling pain between their eyes . . . those who fear the ticking of a clock.

*

An out-of-work carpenter in Sicily sets himself on fire on the steps of the Palermo Municipal Courthouse. His note reads: I am ruined.

Dimitris Papadopoulos, a recently laid-off insurance exec in Athens Greece, shoots dead his two kids, his wife & himself.

*

Where there’s a garden in full flower, some see only the falling petals – a viper where a young kid pirouettes & prances.

*

Andreu Font, a Spanish geology professor who lost his job when his college was forced to close, hangs himself from a mid-town lamp post.

In Toledo Ohio, in front of a glass factory where he once worked, Robert Hall props the muzzle of a 12-gauge under his chin & pulls the trigger.

*

Where the mountains meet the sea, there are those who dread the untamable rage of the catapulting surf – the tranquility of the receding waves.

*

On May 25, 2011, Fay Yee calls her neighbor to ask her to look after her Collie pup then leaps to her death from the Golden Gate Bridge.

*

There are men & women who cannot see the sun rise without suffering a crippling pain between their eyes . . .

After John Zorn’s Masada (Live In Taipei) 1995 Disc #1
Shebuah

What does one call the ones who breach the gates, the ones who whip the dispossessed, drag our young women behind the wall to shame them with their fondling? What is there in our slim vocabulary to drive pain up the spine, to churn the bowels, cause the retching blood? Shebuah! & spit in the dust between their feet. Shebuah! & raise a furious fist that will never be mistaken for peace. Shebuah! & burn their first born behind their eye . . . where they are sure to find them crisp & cold.

Shebuah – Curse – An Oath

After: ‘Six Marimbas’ Music by Steve Reich

Water: Flowing. Falling. Running. Water & Air & Fire & Earth &

They circle twice & come in low. Their ears twitch. Tongues dart.
From the brush they walk to the edge:

Take my eyes & run with them. Take my arms & craft a new room.
Take my legs & beat a path to the waves.

In your hands I’m liable for death.
In your bed I birth the lame & the mute.

Speak to me of fire, of the scars on the belly. Speak of flames in your bowels, your hot rejections.

Care for her. She’s the feather in our last nest. Wear her with pride.
Take me under the bridge & tear out my tongue.

Breathe through your mask. Breathe & at arms length dance & as you glide & spin you’ll turn & slip over the wall.

As the sun slows to sleep I feel your breath on my back & open my hands to offer the last bowl.

Here. I have made it for you. Drink.

After: ‘Punch Press Pull’ No Stars Please Music by The Trummerflors Collective

Can you remember that first drum, the one with the metal rim & those sticks with their cotton knobs & how you proudly marched around the living room & the freight train that whistled by at precisely four thirty every Tuesday & Julie’s eyes which were alternately blue & green & how she taunted you across the fence & her dog Buckskin who howled into the night & running home to mom with a broken tooth & no one home & blood in your mouth & the long climb to the roof where he was hammering away at his homemade boat & Jeremiah practicing his saxophone & the sun heating the tar to soup & that time Andrea fell through the skylight & had to be stitched quickly & butterflies on the milkweed & the sheriff coming after you with a warrant & everyone staring & pointing their fingers & turning away & how you left town & hitchhiked to Canada & the waitress who thought you were from California & offered her bed & stole the money from your boot & the last day of July when you won sixty on the slots & caught the bus which crashed in Detroit & the war games with live ammo & a jazz band on a flatbed & the B & O which ran all the way home & no one there to meet you except a guy playing bongos on a bench & a small girl asleep in his lap.

It’s Wednesday

& the corner grocer has once again invited Marcos the elephant trainer to prepare a feast for the holiday & we’re all invited just like the time before when Maria & Nancy strutted naked in the rain & Betsy proposed a nasty rendezvous with Harold’s elegant valet & your kids began a food fight that ended when Irene was shot in the face by Bernard who had stolen his father’s S & W .38 & was known to detest anyone with black curls & that included his mother who wrestled him to the ground but not before Irene’s brother Jack shoved a bread knife between his ribs – But – this year will be different with grilled octopus all around & guards at every gate & two mixed cases of Rioja from Bilbao, beer from Finland & Grappa from Tuscany where they say this year’s vintage will be sensational & we’re all invited to Bob’s gallery for his opening & a horse race where the loser must sleep with the mayor’s wife & perform all the erotic acts she is known to demand & expects.

You, Who’ve Come To The Gate,

will notice his skin which their fires have charred & you will see his nose
is not…but a plastic snout & wires & his ears no longer & no texture but a yellow waxen shine &

you will notice her stumps where there once were hands which could sew & stir the pot & stroke a young boy’s face & you may note her silence but will never ask, “What have they done with her tongue.”

After: Kosovo 1999

At The Side Of The Road

he waits with torso naked for the passersby to see &

touch if they dare

this man yoked, with a gnarled hump &

twisted frame

who comes day by day to offer himself

as the least of us

to remind the strong of the lost, the violent of the humble,

the proud of the weak &

though the air is brittle & the ground is wet,

he comes with cup in hand & alone

as are we all

who wait for our bus that will arrive soon &

with it the inescapable & most perfect fact

we are bound to a future we know not

& will only taste once.

How It Was

It was a lie. In a foreign country. By the side of the road. Oleanders. Under cover of darkness.

It was a lie. Rummaging around the hayloft. Through the brambles. That gold coin. Molasses.

It was a lie. & she told it well. Like an artist disguises the truth with her pallet knife. Like snow drifts.

It was a lie. Fumbling under her skirt. Wishing for water. Drilling for oil. Hunting. His last clear shot. Smoke.

It was a lie. Begging to be discovered. Ratcheting up the odds. Sterile music. Open sewers. Sweet cream & Karaoke.

It was a lie. How did we come to this? Why would you say such a thing? What’s really troubling you? Hopscotch.

It was a lie. Preamble. Sequel. Sequestered. Sold. Into bondage. Smothered. By mother. Love in the time of Jihad. Quarantine.

It was a lie. In your dream of falling. Naked she came & naked she went. All about Eve. All about Jessica. All about . . . Does it matter now?

It was a lie. Daylight’s waning. Here’s the map. We must go. She smokes a thin Cubana. Blowing smoke-rings, blowing, blowing . . . up & gone.