THE CAMERA’S SIDE OF THE STORY
According to the photo album,
their marriage was all
cruise ship railings,
cheap souvenirs from Caribbean ports,
the main grandstand at a NASCAR race,
an unknown beach,
some kind of fairground
where pigs were being judged.
Nothing here of the arguments,
the drifting apart, the divorce.
When the bad stuff happened,
they just weren’t posing.
The woman picks out
a slinky black dress
with tight-fitting waist,
sequins that sparkle in
the department-store light.
My wife invests her paycheck
in something far plainer,
One shops for the wear and tear
of the office,
the other for a feline saunter
into a club or restaurant.
I want, so much, to see my wife
in an outfit that clinging,
that overtly sensual,
once in a while.
But she makes her purchase
and we leave together.
This is also what I want.
OBITS AND ME
Rachel swallowed a bottle of blue pills
and the dark swallowed Rachel.
Cam was found, discovered,
unearthed – take your pick of verbs –
but everyone knew it was Cam on that bed
Kate’s end was more romantic,
at least to some people.
She floated to the lake surface
like a painting by Millais –
the most precious Kate
in anyone’s memory
though Kate’s own memory
was absent Kate.
They were all people I knew
and who knew me.
And now I’m stuck
with all the knowing.
THE OLD BLUESMAN
He calls himself a jive cracker.
The pissing dogs don’t care.
He likes his hootch.
And he’s a one for stepping out of line.
The women flirt with him.
They call it intrigue.
But they’d do better to serve him up
some of that crawfish bisque.
The bookies are into him.
Their ‘gimme gimme’ is like the breeze.
And he don’t sing so much
as flap like a farmhouse door.
His guitar is old
but the strings still come together
like old war buddies,
approximate a tune.
He sits on his veranda,
on some Carolina ridge,
in sunset the color of a pitcher of beer,
cracking open the blues
with his gargle of a throat.
Cypress wind don’t stop blowing.
The moon just can’t contain itself.
It wants to pick him up and carry him.
WOMAN ON THE BEACH
Lost and your eyes are puzzled,
already falling through houses
painted different colors,
too weak to emphasize their sameness,
though you burst in periodic explosions
crouched on a yellow rind of beach,
shy like a filly when I sit beside you
and, without a sound, brush the
thoughts away from your brow,
let your teeth show bright in your
satin-tanned face, return to life
with face like just-finished sculpture,
a window left open at the whim of circumstance,
I can tell a blonde from a mirage,
you fear the frailty, a darkness
where only your eyes are visible,
those of a frightened adolescent,
trying to remember where you live.