Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Street

They led me into the street, the others.
The little one gnashing her teeth,
eyes flickering under the sudden sun;
the suave guard with his collection of keys
sounding when one struck the others
like a call to prayer or to silence;
the tall, burly fighter, no one’s brother
now that he no longer climbed through the ropes,
posturing now only for sycophants;
San Francisco poeta with brave words
that could find no test equal to her charge;
and I could no more have written this then
than go to sleep when I was not walking,
find the hour of night I could call my own,
the hour of seeing my Irish lover
cavorting with her other secret men.
The street, how I loved to roam its borders
as though I were back in the fields again
listening hard, seeing through, tasting the air,
smelling water now, the street touching me.

(15-16 April 2014)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bobby Goes South along the Coast

She tells Bobby she loves and misses him. Such pain
runs deep down in both of them. To heal, he hitches
to San Francisco, that place in the West he loves.
His bedroll and little steno books are ample company,
with the money he’s earned over the years playing clarinet,
singing blues in the same places, but mostly Hotel Congress,
sleeping in La Iglesia De La Puta, practicing his alchemy–
what Paula calls what he tries to do with words–
but the music provides him dinero, like it does
his mother, who waits at the end of the line to see him.

There are girls who look across the room and he looks back.
There are women who see him hitching beside the road
into the white city; they stop their Lincoln Continental
and wait until he’s nearly there, then go on without him.
In the city he sees Paula’s sister. She’s free from meth,
got a new man whose sax she loves. She’s herself again.
They talk about Portland and Paula, Sanchez and Co.
He asks her to call Paula and tell her the good news,
she says she has. Now he goes to see Henrietta Murphy,
his mother, singing blues for a living on the edge
of La Jolla, a brittle edge. He sees Donna, still dancing
mostly naked at The Cave, Mission Beach, where they met.
He drives Henrietta’s car to take Donna home,
Imperial Beach. She rides him sinuously. Then he sleeps
beside her Afro, her dark body, her agile dancer’s legs
celebrating his return, however brief. And it is brief,
though like the last time he was here Henrietta makes dinner
for him and Donna, and then like before they cross the street
and lie on the sand in the shadows beyond the moon
bright as a sun with the tide coming in to spill
over their sandy bodies locked together. They come.
She takes him home for one last sleep before he leaves.

He misses loving her on the the East Coast.
In the dream, they've never met. Will he wake in time?
He sent off to Thomas Wolfe’s birthplace for a map.
Asheville looks almost part of the Smoky Mountains.
She lives near the Atlantic, though her town gets hot as hell.
In Seattle rain makes words and pictures on his window glass. 

(12-13-14 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, April 11, 2014


One of numerous stones sifts through the mind’s seaweed
wavering in the water when a body moves through vertigo
and the current brings the tide in as sleep returns.

Years go by. The intern from Seattle sent north
from Minneapolis to this paradise of fish and deer
says the names of the stones strained through seaweed,
weightless before the middle ear freezes,
the shifting of stones become a slowness now,
heavier. The brain chatters, When will thaw come?

Through the body’s channels leading from head to legs,
one in sudden pursuit of the other
turning too quickly, the body tumbles.

Many years since the first such fall, the verbs
outnumber nouns, vowels the consonants,
and fear of the tic, the bloc on a d or t,
the poles of the inner ear melting that bordered
terrain with its white bear, its frozen deer, fish thawing, 
creatures seeking higher ground, waters rising.

After falling he regains the feet their ankles do not aid..
Vestigial memory knows how he learned to fall young
on the field, primordial body wedding flesh with bone.

(11 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fascicle of Amity: 20

This is the last
and least among
these unnamable
bundles of billets-doux.

She lives with corporate plague
so near I never go there

The character of her skin
is a pale shade now.
So many,
two men most,
sought to suck her beauty dry.

She learns fast.
Come too close to her, they die.

(10 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Fascicle of Amity: 19

                    One must imagine him happy.
                                    (from Camus)

Leave it to him to stir the air,
slake his thirst with the dew from leaves,
eat roots, shit where deer were their delicate
hoof prints. He sleeps once clouds shut out

In the sun and rain and winter furies
he remembers, love was all that changed him.
Hitching to town, walking most of the way,
in the internet coffee shops
he wrote

on napkins, sketching words, hammering sound
until music took shape. He read
aloud the only truly serious
philosophical problem, how to die
with grace

but by your own hand. The ideal
must be drained until it was real,
the blood in the rain your own blood
when she called from the other side,
Come here.

She hoped you would keep your promise and die
once she left you with the city's
levees burst asunder from hurricanes.
That was the city she loved like it was
her own.

(9-10 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fascicle of Amity: 18

I have sleep to do.
I have work to dream.
–Bill Knott (1940-2014)

’case it all gits outa hand
make yerself a mask ’n be sumthin
yer not
(who could not spell let alone talk)

It’s pleasant on Pleasant Street.
Besides, I love to walk,
go to the Jones Library
read in the Sir Francis Drake bar,

the one upstairs.
Downstairs I meet Charles and Mary
from Lowell: he’s black, she’s white,
they love their life. 

I walk over to Cronopios
where the book required, Cruelty
by Ai, “is selling like hotcakes.”
So I’m told. I’ll tell the students.

Next door, in the Quicksilver,
Tricia comes by for a kiss.
She asks me to go home,
it’s not a question or invitation.

I have pickled herring aplenty,
I say we can hit the mattress
and sup later. 
She says OK and doesn’t move.

I could go on. Patrick Johanson,
Paul Stevens, Lance Walker
of Amherst’s VVAW chapter, ask,
How was Korea? I answer, I was too young.

Lance was on the DMZ, with LLRP
(or LURP): Long Range Reconnaisance
Patrol over the De Militarized Zone
and into North Vietnam . . .

Johanson (of Saigon) works as bouncer
where Paul (from An Loc) is 86'd . . .
whereupon he got kicked bloody and bruised
in the cellar of the Drake

by a gang swearing he raped a woman
in ’nam, “Where were you?” Paul asked.
“What’d I look like? Why was she there?
How come you’re still alive?”

Paul cruises floors in town for lost money.
Johansen comes on duty. I leave with Tricia.
Night surrounds us. We have love to do,
I have work to make.

                            To the memory of il miglior fabbro
                            Adam Hammer (1948–1984),
                            who once roomed with Bill Knott
                            in Boston
                            –May the gods bless their old souls.

(25 March 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fascicle of Amity: 17

You chisel ice from the windshield
after starting the engine and 
gloves on, turning the heater down
once you’re on the road,
I wake by the time you are there,
thirty miles down the freeway where
you teach another day and drive
all the way back where I am not
waiting, I am nowhere, not here
nor there. I keep scribbling, hearing
actual voices around me,
curious why I was led here
to her house. All the others knocked
on her door, read dust in the air
and listened hard to the silence
whip the wind into dust devils
in no country you have come to,
though still you hear rivers flowing
and see the waterfall falling,
and say what there is you feel here
or you die too soon, you give up
but why when you have all the snow
and ice New England has to give.

(24 March 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander