Torture, Cancer, Betrayal, and Flight, Four Poems

bohemianPoetry Month, Poem A Day, Poem Nos 18, 19, 20, and 21

Scavenger’s Daughter

Their marriage was like a scavenger’s daughter,
each day the pressure greater, doubling
her heartache. She was broken, her ears

bled. He said he’d let up. It was just that he hated
his boss, job, dog, car, kids, the mayor.
As soon as things looked up, he’d let up

on her. He would. Fired from every job:
he called hourly, threatened co-workers, bosses,
certain she fucked everything, everyone,

but him. Always checking. Checking. Sex
a guillotine whirring, each cog bringing orgasm close.
When she screamed he thought she was excited

that she wanted more. He sold her car, phone,
radio, television, bought her a typewriter, told
her she was so good with words. Write!

She rolled her long yellow hair into the carriage
until her forehead hit the “y” over and over
and then she bled from that hole, too.

My Mother Quit Smoking in October

Locked tight in a capsule,
rotated and blasted,
with music for the pain
of cancer therapy.

Yellow lines, a face full
of ink strokes she trusted;
if they slip, hit the brain,
no more Pauline Murphy.

Blood poisoned with chemicals,
stomach ripped and twisted;
raw throat ruined, her saliva’s gone.
Slothful recovery.

Her thin hair’s gray, face pale.
No more Nice ‘n Easy red.
Mouth is bare tooth and bone;
but she’ll see sixty-three.

Old Friend

Your hair is soft, waves, your skin
sags like melted ice cream.
Buttery to the touch and still
tempting. You dress
like the end of a rain storm
flowing pastels with green
and gray hues. Your chosen
mode of speaking is whispers
between sips of certain clear
drinks, vodka or gin, from
your thin wet lips sharp
darts hiss like a whip
as if cutting words didn’t
didn’t didn’t bite so, didn’t
burn       your disdain rides
the bare back of your judge
with black leathered legs
layered heels heavy and ready
to press into the tough hide
each hard beat of the four-
step canter collides
and stomps upon the now
dirt-crushed remains
of friends never knowing
what hit them.

Cleared for Flight

We talk late on Saturdays
you walking an inherited dog
me listening to the frogs behind you
thinking they are crickets and you’re
in love again or forever
ripping reality from your moments
because we all know even the voice
of an old girlfriend will never soothe
decades of life and loss.

You’d love to see the sway of my hips again
you say between croaking or crickets
and I am flattered and afraid; we are taken
we are always taken when we love each other
by bad timing and other temptations
you and I have never been cleared for flight
our journey has always involved the betrayal
of someone. Never each other.

We relish the 1600 miles between us
the sound of amphibians that keep
our sighs muffled safe inside the sky
we danced under years ago
one time I proposed meeting in the middle
so we could have a donut and coffee
in some café and hold each others eyes
you said Elk City would be too ‘Okie.’

I dream of your wife, your kids,
the perfection of who you are in my soul
that has rested for years knowing I will never
know the you I knew on Prentis St.
where I fainted when you kissed me
and listened to you read Truman Capote’s
short stories and the Detroit rain
pounded on my third floor windows.

We cannot fly this love never cleared
for flight. One red flag or another waves
behind each call of the amorous frogs
and no pilot in their right mind would get
on board this jalopy of smooth take offs
and tragic landings.

Photoby Leni Sinclair at The Detroit News 

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