Monday, November 29, 2010

Eyes Look Your Last - Part One

Punk Rock Girls,
wearing nothing but kilts,
studded leather belts;
and chain mail. Punk Rock Girls
eighteen to twenty one years of age,
and smelling of Ivory Soap –
hover over my head this
Saturday morning as I try
To read Thomas Merton
on the Downtown Local.

A Retired Anthropologist
rides a bicycle through the woods
on his eighty-third birthday.
He stops to tell me a story
from his terrible childhood.
Then he tells me a story
of his stint in the Merchant Marine
Then he recites
Shakespeare’s 29th Sonnet –
pronouncing “deaf” as “deef”.

The Ecuadorian handyman
From the school where I teach
Asks me if I like the new principal
As he hangs blood red wallpaper
In my mother’s living room.
I tell him I do, silently marveling
That he doesn’t have to watch
What he’s doing. He smiles,
Serenely, and says, “You know what:
A new broom sweeps really good.”

In 1970, my mother’s aunt –
My beautiful Auntie –
is watching me for the day.
She pours me a lukewarm coke,
And introduces me to her uncle.
He waits until she is out of earshot,
he calls me to his side, and he says,
“I killed one hundred men, and
I drank their blood from their skulls.”
Then he falls fast asleep.

An emaciated, hollow-eyed man
Paces the Cathedral steps,
Handing out pamphlets.
He says over and over,
“God is love, and only love:
This is what I used to preach
In 1938, when the Coglinites
Would beat me up, and the police
Would do nothing to stop it.”
I can't bear to chase him away.

She is lovely, and petite,
and as mad as the seven seas.
She is also what was
Once called easy. We hang out –
For the most part – until her
Insanity makes me feel
As if I am in a coffin,
And her tall tales swipe
What air there is to breathe.
She insists that we split the check.

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