Side trips, said Lenore, take you off the road
and you end up nowhere you said you were
going when you left me with my nightgown
around my neck and my pussy wet with heat
and frost on the windows, the cats on the bed,
maybe this, maybe that, but silence for certain.
Lenore smoked another Kool. She had a jones
for men who worked with their hands, she liked
to smile. Driving up the perilous mountain path,
eyes shifting from side to side searching for deer,
staring hard into the dark–moonless blackness–
turning into the curve and correcting in time
to stay on asphalt, a man must have his woman
between two arms and two legs and let go . . .
Lenore, you were straight from Poe. Wet rose
of time to be remembered in a solitude of dust
curling in motes up the laddered air in daylight
and with one hand on the door you lean out
breathe in take a step, pitch forward, but catch
your body before it falls the rest of the way
down, and here come the men just in time
with beer and cigarettes and conversation
when the main man, not me or you or any one
she knows, but the one she loves, arrives home.
Lenore, you love the working class, literally.
You could have sold yourself for good money.
Lenore, you had a future and said, Fuck it!
I’m going to do what I want, nobody can stop
me, they all should give up before they start
in on me telling me how to live and how to die.
Up the road to the top, then. And off the road
to reach the house in the woods where Lenore
never left, she had so many beaus, and a friend
who came mornings to act the part of mother.
She leaned over to kiss Lenore on her dry lips,
gussied up the house, talked a while, then left.
Lenore, Lenore, Lenore! Your body was dead
but your words brought them all back to life,
the men of no home, the woman who mothered
and fathered all at once your childhood’s end,
your womanly motherless beginnings without
end . . . and I have said of her what I have said.
(29 September 2010)