sedoka* : lost love

the anatomy
of memory is subtle —
the parietal cortex

is linked by neurons
to the hippocampus through
networks of lost love lesions

 

*The sedoka is an unrhymed poem made up of two 3-line katauta with the following syllable counts: 5/7/7, 5/7/7. A sedoka, pair of katauta as a single poem, may address the same subject from differing perspectives.

A katauta is an unrhymed three-line poem the following syllable counts: 5/7/7.

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Turtles All the Way*

of the salt and the light

(reprinted for an old friend)

talk of salt
that preserves
and salt
that stings the open wound

love is
the most terrible addiction
biochemically
my neuroscientist
agreed

and she would know
so I thought
of salt
from the side
of the deer
and the garden slug

as I traced my finger
slowly my tongue
around the rim
of the glass
fingers to lips
slow circles
tongue
salty skin

around the rim
of the world
the salty sea
like blood
flowing
in the river
of the arid land-
scape of my heart-
ache and

it’s the salt
in my eyes
or the red light
of the sun
drowning
at the rim of the world

where I peered
over the edge
to the monster-
ous tortoise back
and I asked her
what’s below
and she said
it’s turtles
all the way down

 

*title of a new bestseller by the YA author John Green

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.

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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