Midlife in Four Cantos

I. Miami Beach, New Years Eve
We cemented our rites
and I ran down hallways
climb up 16 stories
look now – displays
minor pyrotechnics
rushes of electricity blue
hectic eyes jotting
down the body frenetic
calls to empty
himself of blood
spilling me out like syrup
over pancakes
Funny things
and sour stories of line
caught harbor crabs
stilled in brine, time
in a Singapore sling.

II. They Move
Circling station wagons
The Western front seat
Ticket to the stage where
I bought you a slave,
And waited decades for you.
Sprinting a photographers
Flashing finish
Mine with an expired warranty —
There’s no repair stations
For another 125 miles.
Nothing grew from sand
But deserted lawns
Wheaten with drought.
Expectations make such sad pets.
One oriental rug
Meticulous as a prescription
For narcotics,
12 vases filled
Weith cheap baby’s breath.
So disgusted by the
Pathetic, sorry little flowers
Now the rug runs
Color from red to the
Coward yellow Angel’s trumpet
Marking the gang plank.
Blindfolded and
Coerce me home with two keys.

III. Bee Swarm
Call a beekeeper
Then dead air
My mesmerized heart watched
A swarm from the 300 year old
Hive that rush to see a blaze.
Some silent sirens ring
Up the street at the fire house.
Paratroopers empty one by one
Dropping from the hive
Now growl as one great
Carpet to cover the windows
Door handles and locks.
A bee moat.
Moist and musky, the white
Sided bungalow
Protected from the flame
Now extinguished with
Rancid old vase water.
Shotgun shacks, powder kegs
Rotten elm leaves on the porch
Swinging slowly with twitchy legs.
Those bees site their patron saint:
A queen scurries through
The swarm parting
Like a sea for her scented thorax.
Just as fast as a hive can
They disappeared. (I’d once read
A Beekeepers’ sacred scrolls.)
A few stray behind to thin the
Hive of the dullards, the confused.
Dutch orange parrot tulips in
Illegible newsprint tied with twine,
Now sipping water through
Hollowed green straw legs.
Quenched, they crane towards us.
Running over cobbled blocks
Rushing to the sounds of breath.

IV. The Louvre, Paris
I stop and sit at the feet of Winged Victory, royalty,
The high ranking headless queen, she’s mad you know.
Follow her lazy outstretched arm where sensuous grand ladies,
Courtly jesters, and tawdry boys all come to find heaven.
Some stairs usually leading to a window where I watch,
Quiet crowds pour, queued, into the pyramid below,
I’m startled by a many storied room overrun by alabaster
White, milky skin, robed shoulders, un-uninformed guards,
A crack here, a small nick there, and a careful cleaning,
Before long they leave with what they came for –
Cruel beasts, goddesses, poets, beggars, tinkers, thinkers,
Any and all creatures alike, alone under watchful passers eyes.
Their new coats and incarnadine daybeds – park benches,
Hurriedly restored for await their revival.
The permanent residents at the Richelieu arm, the medieval cellar,
The baroque hallway, the glass palace,
Cold, white and black veined marble limbs and sad sightless eyes,
They all return tonight.
Unlike the rich blue irises stolen by the brush of a madman,
or a life still still in vein on those bodies waiting, arms struggling to cover up,
Shame replaced their youth and lively, graceful likenesses.
Bloodless, stolen by angry hammers and chisels somehow
Unimportant, they share rooms with boys riding turtles,
Mary Magdalene, the prostrate bodies of lovers’ locked
Limbs forever in uncomfortable embraces.

Follow the Queen

My room unlatched
Releasing shirts, slacks
To hungry closets for
New black suits.
Drawers devoid, empty,
Open for guides and
Maps. A single dirty window
Opens to a brick wall.
My memory of the word
“Defenestration” fell out.
My mouth shares the doubt
Of an incomplete education.
Underneath paper thin sheets
Uncover my form asleep dreaming,
Murmuring bird breeds.
I fly into the diaspora.
Street artisans took to the
Deep sea once, yet to which land?

I hold the receiver and
Wish for a revolver.
Legal language defense
Foreign escapes
Hold up in court.
Unknown room numbers
In a delicious series of
Chambers marked 12, 31
Maybe 2004.
Remembering a stone cold six story
Buddha in a wide open gin palace.
Cigars and molten cherries
Jubilee. Bananas foster
Charles Foster Kane,
His full name from nothing.
Mother’s greasy brunch pumpkin
Markets and street tchotchkes.
Snow globes from America where
Going down South the snow
Attracts curious tourists.
Temporary neighbors
Angry without rose beds,
Lawnmowers without preteens.
I learned the names of
Chateaux. Bordeaux, Chablis
Pure sunshine Chardonnay.
Tastevin and Caskets
Down in the catacombs
The same town underground.

Rise up and run off
Spilling me like syrup
On pancake embankments.
A cooing stewed pigeon
On an expired warranty the
Black dial telephones,
Hissing tube televisions.
Anonymous but you only
Would send such indifferent
Cheap bouquets of sprayed
Carnations and baby’s breath.
Such sorry little pimples
Those flowers, like calling
Cards for bill collectors.
Or foreign exchanges between
Currencies for emergencies.
Ladies wearing smart suits
Tahitian pearl chokers
Rhinestone bangle bracelets
Bengal tiger-print hot pants.
A real mistress
Ends in a whisper
Her knowledge sits stuck
In the back of a cab.
Like all irrelevant souvenirs.
Bees swarm from the 300 year oak
Guarding the fire department.
Emptying from the hive
Growling as one great
Carpet to cover the daylight yellow
Moist and musky bungalow.
Shotgun shacks, powder kegs open
Their queen, a patron saint
Leaves her scent, thinning the
Hive of the dullards,
The abused and the confused.
One last time, dressed
For success the top opening
For California mornings air.
I sneak out the back and press on,
Press on emerging into traffic.