Josep+Paloma

Paris is Raining

Water is raining down Montmartre, rivulets leaking to the Seine. Josep feels like a martyr, the slow torture of wet feet. The stitching of his leather shoes is rotting; that’s the kind of winter it has been. Paloma hugs his left elbow with her two impatient hands and leans her head on his shoulder like Suze Rotolo as they go freewheelin’ to déjeuner. Little birds scatter from a puddle, a flurry of wings, les oiseaux she says under her breath, in kinship. She could live on bread and butter, and strong coffee, bien sûr.

Brooding

Paloma and Josep sit silently, side by side in a black car, each watching a world blur away through tinted glass. Her hands worry in the nest of her lap like brood mates. His spine is a ramrod. The world is desultory, patches of olive and dun and abandon. Her ring is a dew claw — functionless, prone to catching on things, to getting caught.

Josep Is Away

Paloma is crossing the Pont des Arts. They took down the iron grillwork and the thousands of love locks. The brass Abloy with J+P scratched into the side. Last fall they locked it beneath the third streetlamp and tossed the key in the Seine. It is too hot for September, 30 and humid. Paloma stops, scratches at the bandage wrapped around her left wrist and hand, pokes her fingernail under the flesh-toned wrap and rakes at the skin of the back of her hand. A pigeon flies off with something in its beak. She is staring into the water, how it flows around the footings in ripples that are never urgent. Beyond the shadow, the surface of the water is too bright, full of sky and clouds.

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V

A girl named Bambi
left a heart-shaped box of chocolates
in my locker in sixth grade.

The photo of the nurse and the sailor
on V-J Day by Albert Eisenstaedt,
the woman dressed all in white
and arched like a crescent moon.

Eve Ensler with black bangs,
black dress and bright red lips.

Dating tips for Conservatives:
“Take her to a gun range.
Shooting some rounds with your girlfriend
is a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.”

Cartoon caption:
“If I can’t buy you dinner,
at least let me pay you for sex later.”

Eros with arrows,
again with the shooting.

Shape of a Heart

We play the game called Exquisite Corpse —
you with the curlicued lust lines
of your tragic fine-point pens,
I with charcoal-smudged
weather reports and raucous blackbirds —
two sides unseen of the same
folded paper’s fearful symmetry.

I hand you the scalpel, Dottoressa,
and turn away at the first red spots
beading along the curve you cut,
a rotated cardioid, the rolling circle
that traces a two-lobed valentine.

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Still Life with Dead Birds, Fruit, and Vegetables by Juan Sánchez Cotán

Better you should hang me by my feet
so the blood would run out faster
when you cut my jugular with your knife-

words, and scald and pluck me good
so everyone can see my pink naked skin,
than to hang me in your Spanish pantry,

bodegón, just another interesting shape
in your arrangement, the way my feathers
contrast with your sweet blushing apples.

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Gathering

I am gathering old poems for my next book…

The Properties of Light

i. dream light

I dream you drenched in river light
hazy       opalescent       matutinal
flickery moth wings in your strawberry
hair      then lightning      sudden cloud
burst     drenched again     cotton
sticking to skin     a reason for
disrobing

ii. sunflowers in fall

Their round faces
hang heavy, Earthward
like yellow-haired angels
weary of Heaven’s light.

They are big flowers
made of little flowers
arranged in spirals
like little galaxies

The way all Creation
descends from the same
mitochondrial code –
some call it God.

Bees feed on the pollen
and are yellow and brown
same as the flowers
of which they are made

So that every living thing
is suffused with light
and becomes light,
blooming with radiant energy.

Beneath the small flowers
that already are falling,
having given their gold,
are neat rings of seeds

Awaiting winter, when birds
will peck them apart
to feed the hunger
of that lightless season.

This is the miracle,
how light feeds flowers
and bees and birds
who scatter the seeds

To grow anew next spring.

iii. light, its opposite

A beam of light
passing through light
casts no shadow,

Is the invisible thing
that makes visible
all other things.

Love, too, is invisible,
but always casts a shadow,
even on darkest nights.

Especially.