Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Grace Cavalieri


Whenever one said if you give me this
I'll give you that.
The other said how can I give you that
until you give me this...
I want you to give me something to prove
you love me. That reminds me
I hate it when you say that's a good point.
Oh yes I see. That's a good point.
Just as the Japanese bow before they
take out their swords so did these move to embrace.
There was a fang growing out of the heart like
a tooth. I can't remember which one,
and when they hugged, it pierced them twice
but don't bother about this--
just words--and what words are worth our feelings
anyway, or theirs for that matter.


I slept under the electric blanket
with the dial up HIGH
before I ate some fried chicken with the skin on
Sitting next to someone smoking a cigarette
after I petted a strange dog
instead of flossing my teeth
deciding to eat real ice cream instead of yogurt
on my drive downtown without my bullet proof vest
to kiss a stranger right on the lips
without washing my hands afterwards.


If you use your time well, you wan't want it
to come back, the psychologist said--talking
about systems of thought, legal systems,
educational systems, marriage systems. The
mystic said "In the true sublime a sharp
consciousness of inadequacy is required...
" The social worker says many people die of
disappointment. It's a matter of record. Luck
came their way today. There wouldn't be a
speaker. They could put on a play. Quick.
Everyone into the costume room. A tableau.
Today they could make a tableau. Mr. P chose
Gobbels. Mrs.--Eva Braun. They called it "a look
into the 20th century." No one guessed who
they were. Who cared for the stony hearts of
the unimaginative. The theater was for those
still alive in its broth. Rummaging in the trunk
they found some old wedding clothes. How
beautiful to find them again. The victrola played.
I'LL BE SEEING YOU (in all the old familiar places).
A stopped up stomach was just stopped up words.
And all books and stories are just about what is
lost and what is found. Nothing more. Love, not
lost now between them--It flowed like the sunset
reflected in the dinner knife.


Cover up, all the time, cover up.
Mr. P was always covering up. When he needed a
piece of paper to write on he tore the top off the
window shade, and then had to hide the bottom.
But where? And how about the time he was cutting
the plug off the vacuum cleaner in the hall and had
to stop midway because someone was coming. He
was only trying to invent electricity. He forgot to
tell them it was halfway off. Mrs. P was real nice to
him because she didn't show people what he did, or
where. Then again, she just may be trying to get
more flies with honey than vinegar but where's she
going to find all those flies, he worried.


Mr. P decided to announce
their engagement. Some people clapped. Some
woke up. The accordian man played "Honey"
("It's funny but it's true," went the words).
Wouldn't it be fun to have that built into
the automatic song box, so
when someone stepped on the grass, it'd start
playing "Loved you from the start, Honey...
Bless your little heart, Honey...
Everyday would be so sunny, Honey, with you.
"He'd do it for her so even if she was underneath
the ground, she'd hear and think of him. And
no one else! He felt young and alive with possibility.

-all poems previously published at Beltway Poetry Quarterly

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