Friday, August 29, 2014

The Designated Griever

I was always, finally, the griever.
Her father long gone, she sought him.
Then a lover came to make her young.
Art saved me from everything.
Playing his soprano saxaphone
Straight out to life, Sidney Bechet
Was happy. Love's little death
I called the body's Ponce de Leon
Fountain between my legs.

Call me cunt, she offered in
The beginning. Call me anything
But love me, I heard her say.
She mothered me with anger
Once I transgressed her code
And she had no need to fear
My absence. I floundered,
Regret releasing a flood
Of shame she chided me for.
Growing small, I asked forgiveness.
She said, Don't worry about it.

During the time I knew her,
the last half of that year she was
welcoming a lover to her bed
to restore her youth: braiding her hair
with red ribbons, prancing naked
to lure his cock between her legs.
Her last words to me, I want you
inside me. August led to New Year's:
Oh, did I forget you had a birthday?
she said, leading me to the door.
When August returned, her tongue
said only what she could measure.

I was prepared by the lady in white
upstairs, or so I drunkenly thought.
When I knocked, no one answered.
I had come to Amherst as the war
in Indochina began to reach its end.
I was here to read and that way have
new dreams: Jonathan Edwards
snuffed out by the pox the Indians
around him suffered, his Sinners
in the Hands of an Angry God left
in his grave when he climbed out
and in my dreams returned one night
to the Connecticut River all the way
back from the River Styx. On the bridge
between his town and hers, Edwards
forgot Sarah Pierpont, his true wife,
to marry Emily Dickinson, who wrote:

Much Madness is divinest Sense--
To a discerning Eye--
Much Sense--the starkest Madness--
'Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail--
Demur--you're straightway dangerous
And handled with a Chain-

Esperanza I saddled with Preciosa
since she sought more names
than one, had forbidden me to send
couriers to her newly minted door,
put her hair back in the pigtails
I had admired; the rumpled bedsheets
she covered her two breasts with
smoothed and tucked: her many
still-life moments of loving those
who had come before me
to be the father, lover, brothers
she had sent away to their lairs.

(29 August 2014)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Year Is Over

Poems seem to disturb the spirits--once at Gogarty's when I was reading out my Calvary and came to the description of the entrance of Lazarus, the door burst open as if by the blast of wind where there could be no wind, and the family ghost had a night of great activity. From all which you will see that I am still of opinion that only two topics can be of the least interest to a serious and studious mind--sex and the dead.
                      --W. B. Yeats, to Olivia Shakespear, October 2 (or 4) [Postmark 1927]

I learned to lean on one side
and ingest the waves of luna

I learned to lie in the space
of the hollow of your body

What did you learn, winter
window with your curtains

Did you weep with loving
someone like me or was it

no one's business, not mine
who taught you to fuck sex

when I went over into death
and left you with your boys

Today was your birthday love
forever too far off to be young

Floyce Alexander
(August 28, 2014)
to her

Blue Night

This is
the smell of the place,
beauty to cherish
and put you to sleep
knowing she was there,
your first sight waking,
the sound of her voice,
not needing to hear
what she says but you wait,
knowing you will know
so much more than before
she arrived to keep
the promise of her youth, having found you
too late.

This is the song
that has no ending:
Take me under cover, shine the flashlight where
Mercy doesn't live but pity does, and fear
Out where in the light of the moon
The dogs of death snarl and slaver and swoon

Here's where it ends.
The truck backs up to the door
The door in the back slides up, it's easy
You almost hear the voices as a choir


So goes the first day of her disappearance, folly of my doing nothing.
God damn, I mutter, she was not only beautiful but her mind was
And her heart if heart is the color of her eyes
And I don't know, I put her portraits where I could find them
Once I learned to run through the register without grinding
The gears, a year old now, cutting out at one hundred twenty.

(Wednesday, 27 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Memory of Earth Moving; or, 6.0 on the Richter Scale

                                                  for Jonah Raskin,
                                                  remembering talking about Rudy Wurlitzer's novel
                                                  Quake, walking the hills outside Sonoma, California,
                                                  Summer 1984

In Napa, rolling hills crumble,
The earth beneath opens and wine fills
The sun's frantic shadows moving side
To side where the fall sweeps gravity
Like a broom wielded from the sky
By precipitous, inconsolable
Fingers forming a fist out of a hand
Bone by bone.

Wine country Napa struck by a quake
As one waitress was talking with
Another, the day idling by,
Moving toward noon gone moribund,
Memory hard up for words to fill
The gaps opening where once we talked
In the mold of newfound friends unprepared
To be angels, ever!

                                                       In Napa riddled 
With grape stains mimicking sunset
Pouring down.

                       Summer 2014

                      (24-25 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, August 24, 2014

6.0 Richter Scale

In Napa the rolling hills crumble,
the earth beneath opens and wine fills
the sun's frantic shadows moving side
to side where the fall sweeps gravity
like a broom wielded from the sky
by precipitous, inconsolable
fingers forming a fist out of a hand
bone by bone.

Wine country Napa struck by the quake
as one waitress was chatting with
another, the day idling by,
moving toward noon gone moribund,
I am so hard up for words to fit
the gaps opening where once we talked
in the mold of strangers unprepared
to be angels now, in Napa riddled
with grape stains mimicking sunset
pouring down.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Veronica Guerin

                                                                          for Gypsy Queen

There are women like her still, the rowdy ones, fearless, will walk up to you and kick you in the shins or haul back and coldcock you or whatever a brave woman does who refuses to be silenced. If I know one I know a hundred, and it's time you know and call their names, the bloody sea is rising, the truth is like an eel, who else but her will bear your heart to the grave . . . Who but the gypsy in my dream, in my country the lass who spurns the queen . . . 

I woke at three, having slept since midnight the deep sleep, yet shallow as the soul. On the screen was Cate Blanchett who had climbed inside the Dubliner's lovely body and made herself at home, knowing full well the price. Why say it's only a movie? and an old one at that. Its music reminds me of my mother, and you. Like her, who also loved me over a half century, you wake in the wee morning hours and go to sleep with the pre-dawn light . . .

(4:15 ante meridiem, 20 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Buena is off to the right
or to the left . . .
the direction the car
is traveling the back road
to or from the dam
the salmon run, hurdling
the falls to reach the calm
spawning waters
if first the Yakama don't spear
them climbing the ladder.

Buena is where
the Guzmans live.
Frank talks while I take
an hour to eat my lunch
on the grass
outside Employment Security
in Toppenish. Frank's wife
Geri takes classes
with Cathleen in Yakima,
at The Beauty School.

Frank knows I live here
alone, where Cathleen was
better-looking than the others.
You need a wife, she said,
I've got a wild hair up my cunt
I need to tame.
Frank asks what I do for pussy.
You mean, Where does my
Little Man go? (Cock is his word.
Polite brothels are my style.)

Frank launches into
his long dream
to be Geri's pimp.
That's a wet dream,
I laugh. Sure, he says,
but she's real, she's not a dream.
And I: Does she know
what you say about her
behind her back?
Frank: Sure, she loves me.

He wants to buy me a beer.
No, this's my only job.
Breathing booze gets you fired
if you push your luck.
Frank pulls up green grass.
All his life he's wanted to pimp.
Geri's a good girl, he says,
she'll do anything I want,
and adds: You'd get off too, 
her skin is alabaster white.

Naturally our conversation
shifts to Manson.
Guy filing his claim today
needed to talk about love
and death, Sharon Tate
and the lifestyle of the rich
confronting the poor pimp
with his bevy of girls
holing up at the Spahn Ranch
in Death Valley.

Guy said, Charlie's girls killed
for him, murder earned them
like an eagle-scout badge.
He's got his boys selling
dope on the streets of L.A.,
up and down the canyons.
And on all of San Francisco's
Roman hills, those St. Francis
named before he left town
to rid Ireland of its snakes.

That was St. Patrick, I said.
Guy: Oh . . . So how much
do I get a week? I think,
That's like  Frank
asking me what I thought
his wife was worth
on the meat market.
Me: She's your wife, Frank.
He replies, I want her to work
on her back for me
so I can keep control.

Better than eight to five,
he swears, doing hairdos,
painting nails. Hell,
floycealexander (he says
my name fast, like I ask),
she's a good piece,
she needs to sell it.
It's up to you and her, I say.
I go back to the claims window,
and here's this lady with tits . . .

(19-20 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander