BLUE EYES, RED HAIR Eyes of ice, hair of flames – yet I burn when you look at me, I freeze when I touch you. I want to be the last man to make you cry. My arms can be a cradle. I want to be the only man to stay another night. Eyes of ice, hair of flames – I stare into you and you crack; I run my hands through all that cold fire. FLOWER CHAIN She put the flowers in a chain But she never wore them As a necklace or a crown. She kept the flower chain in a locked drawer Below a book of Poe given by a dandelion, Beside an engraved corkscrew given by a mangrove flower, On top of a stack of poems written by this moon flower. One flower rarely touched another And when one accidentally did In her shut drawer She just denied the existence of the other flower As a whisper in the dark. She put the flowers in a chain, Never wearing them As a necklace or a crown But hiding them in a drawer Away from the light. Removing them one at a time To wear behind her ear Solitarily In the dark Before the mirror, Feeling at once sad and powerful, Sexy and unfulfilled, Needed but alone. GOD IS JUST A MAGNET IN THE SKY The wind came up along the rain And whipped around the house As I waited for something to happen But nothing happened. Just rain and wind And music and laundry And the alarm clock That will remind me. You were born in the memory of the poverty of earthquakes And the wreckage of civil wars While I was born into a little house on a dead end street Where the trees were sick and yellow But we could play roller hockey in the street without defense. Along the way we found the same music And we found the same empathy, then When we met a seed was planted. Neither of us went to the prom, both of us lived our lives Riding the subway to the MidManhattan Library And now here we are, as far apart As the day you were bitten by a rat in your crib While I learned about dinosaurs in Kindergarten class, Where I met Michael Blair and Marc Gonzalez. If only we had met while staring at the same painting In an art gallery during your time in college As I toiled unloading trucks and ordering sundries. Maybe this would be different. Maybe our bodies would still be beside one another. Maybe we would be hearing the same song While I made the meatballs and you boiled the spaghetti And added to the gravy. Huh. Maybe. But this is what is. The wind dies down, Drowned out by the sputter of the washing machine And the music always playing In this room that is otherwise silent but for my sighs And my swears. Now there is a violin and an accordion here While your home is filled with anything or nothing at all. You are just a little horse in a small stable, Unaware of the magic you are capable. And I am just a little horse in the wild, Pretending to be a thoroughbred, Kicking around this little hostel in the middle of nowhere. Neither of us will ever run free Or find one another again And so be it. Let it be so. My brother used to tell me that God is just a magnet in the sky And that makes as much sense as anything. If my heart was a compass it would point to you As True North As I move toward there But never arrive In this life Or likely any other. We are both born in the mud of slaves And slaves we remain In this life. May there be another lifetime where we are us And free With the sharp rocks still under our feet As we refrain from complaint. God is just a magnet in the sky. I’ve yet to see a better argument why or why not. PRETTY BLONDE LADY SITTING AT THE COUNTER IN THE DINER I look up from where I am sitting At the booth in the back And you have already come in and sat down At the counter unnoticed, Sitting and staring and typing into your phone, Your little pale feet in sandals and curled up a little Under the stool. I put my glasses on so I can watch you Without you noticing me from my perfect angle In the booth. I can hardly see your face but you look good everywhere else With your shoulder length blonde hair, staring straight down At your phone, occasionally typing but never looking up. Stout body, about 30 lbs. overweight – but aren’t we all? About my age and growing old – but aren’t we all? You frown into your phone until the waitress comes. I keep watching you. I can hardly see your face. You give the waitress a smile as you order. A pained smile Of politeness, that grin that is close to the baring of a predator’s teeth. My food arrives and I watch you as I eat it. You can’t see me or feel I am watching. I am insignificant. I cannot hurt you and maybe I can help you but we’ll never know. You won’t turn around and look at me and I would be afraid if you did. Your food comes and you eat without joy, in a hurry, Sucking the orange juice into your mouth through a straw. Still you look down at your phone and frown and type. Is your husband a bastard? Are your kids not coming home for Christmas? Is your job asking you to work today? Is your mother dying? Maybe you just frown all day. Are you in misery? Are you a carrier of misery? So many of us are both. I watch you and sip my coffee, Imagining your naked body under that ghastly Christmas sweater, The soft gentle roll of fat on your belly you cannot remove No matter how hard you try And I would not hesitate to put my hands upon, Standing behind you in the bathroom as you are topless In just your panties, combing your hair in the mirror. I finish my food, finish my coffee, refuse a refill. I get up, leave the tip, walk right past you And you do not notice me. Your mannerisms do not change. I pay at the cashier and turn around to finally see your face And you are still looking down, concentrating, Done shoveling the food in without an ounce of pleasure. I still can’t really see your face. I turn around, get to the door, Walk out into the late morning sun, Imagining you are beautiful but sad, The way I imagine I am, Will continue to be. YOUR BOOK I bought your book because of the picture of you on the back cover. I looked into your eyes. I felt your body all along mine as my heart flip-flopped in its cage. I want to luxuriate in your presence while you write poems of taffeta and poems of steel. Sewn by you, forged by you. What kind of dazzling words await me between the pages of your book? How deeply will I fall? Your book is sleeping now on my bedside table. I give it a nudge and it opens to the first page but I’m afraid to read it, knowing that you cannot be the you I am so certain you are. I close the book. I don’t want it ruined just yet. Perhaps tomorrow my curiosity will overtake my fear and I can destroy it all then.