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.

Florida, State Your Name

You carry our secrets whispered into cardboard boxes tied tight with candycane twine
(That kind you find in old-time kosher bakeries.)
Tall cakes topped with buttercream flowers in new-fatigue green and suburban-Mustang blue whose
Stemless petals rise above yellow spongey layers with strawberries.
Pure as curbside snow. Pure as little girls with pinch pink cheeks.
Too early for my birthday the trail of a mistake runs upstairs from cheap paper doilies.
Pin striped suit coat and sea glass blue shirttails waving gooodbye, or hello,
(I never knew the difference.)
My hair twisted into a gilded fist as you push my resistance down,
Down into the drowned warped boards.
Raising my right hand, I swear you found a pushover:
A raggedy doll tape and bubble gum, of bare burlap, plaid, and buttons, of red yarn
Covering my torn skin where I stitch myself up and over
(And over to hold myself in again.)
A stray calico cat sits in the window right above your shoulder, startled by your loud heart.
I can still hear you slapping your thigh and then,
Distant laughter cries at your day-old jokes jokes and overtold stories.
Your hysterical, foul, scorn defers a look at me.
I hated you for that minute, then carrying on again I forget you already told me.

My face looks tired, uncooked, undone.
While white hot light sheds the palmetto scrub
Covering the non-natives invading our country- bright boisterously green parrots.
Which fly in on an uncommon flight schedule,
Catching a torrent of wind the turkey vultures wind into a tornado
Turning up higher and faster into the late afternoon rain.
Here, every shower comes in on time right at four.
Bursting open ladies with umbrellas, with daisy dresses, tulip capris, white rose tanks,
Waltzing by the front porch screen doors squeaking,
Slippery dimpled thighs sing together,
All sweet, easy, glide by leaving their perfume behind.
Then zipped into black patent leather hand bags powders, compacts,
Glossy rippled heat waves us in on a 45 degree right angle sun ray.
Show up the hidden mildewed sinews of ductwork,
And the hum of air conditioners masking our words.
Slowly dripping outside busy windows pelted by huge mosquitoes,
Or rain?
(Probably rain cries outside)
Only two minutes, like soft boiled eggs on timers,
Now done cooking. Her eyelashes, false
Newly bred widows sit with spidery eyes,
Single fingers silently making reservations for you.
They reapply the glue, so unkind, that damned humidity.