Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Book of Sudden Life

There is everywhere to go when you stay
in one place. I enter the door you open.
I stand where you are when you stand with me.
There is always the sound of the seabirds
at noon. If I were there what would we make
if it’s not too late, and if it is we may
still try. There are many kinds of weather
where you are. I bring my own, which is no
better, my ice on your tongue and your heat
filling me because I fill you and one
balances the other. If I could stay,
sun would glow all night and even the moon
would warm our sleep. I cannot tell you how
I came to this but there are the books
where I gathered you, and you me, and closed
between covers what no one is given
to read, its name The Book of Sudden Life.

So no one knows where this book can be found.
Only you. Look in your heart’s rooms. See there?
Appoint them with all that love cushions close
to your body when you let it free you
to breathe with me through the netting you brought
from your other country. What we bring stays
until one or the other may be filled
and if both are, it’s called, finally, love.
Or until one or the other has held
all the love, all the life we are given.
The end does not mean beginnings never
return, if this book is the only one
to arrive after all the others have
been read. I stay half the night with you,
you with me the other. There are creatures
sleep here we do not know are here until
morning, if luck is our daily portion.
They live like any being that will die.
Why look for the name you already know?

If I’m the soul in my skin, here it is.
Take it. Give it back to me when you want
or once you have tracked this voice to its source.
No matter, love. I wanted you that much.
If I knew how to keep you, the creature
I am, the fire would fly through my fingers
like any blaze whose sparks leap from your eyes.
Tell me of the land where we are. Do you
toss gulls scraps of bread they can pluck from air?
Do the fish leap here? How do men love you?

(31 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Keats Reading Shakespeare

He was looking through Shakespeare’s sonnets
and found some memorable memories,
how the child in his man’s body refused
to acknowledge the way he wrecked his life
in two years, here in a funk for twenty two.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; , . . . Before, a joy propos’d;
behind a dream. 
It was the old poet
reciting, not drinking, hoping to sleep
his noon food off and hinting you should go . . .

Who could blame him wanting you out of there,
too kind to say so, resorting to the Bard
whose blue genius you could not fail to hear.
Blood's dirge, what men sing when they love more than
themselves, live below and go up only

for the suicides sprawled on the sun deck
where the bad boys and wild girls of our youth
prepare the deep grooves of their wrinkled skin
to sleep in original dust, those damned
only to swallow your words, you sweet man . . .

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?

music to fit together the spaces
between his body and the brief way back
past the pond and waterfall, on the road

home where he sat in the long, wide backyard
whose two old trees bowed to one another
while he sat reciting as night drew near . . .
What of his own imperishable line
When old age shall this generation waste . . .

Why do the old envy the young dying?
Where is the love of the only woman?
When are you too old to cross the ocean?
What eats at your heart like a rose, a thorn
in your eye, poet preparing his death . . .

Youth cannot choose to live, only die.
The ode to the Grecian urn, its force spent
when followed by the address to autumn,
goads the nerves to hum with the rain’s thunder
wading the river to catch the lightning

naked among pale flowers, their wet sleep
a nudge to wake and cross the river back
before time runs out to renew your bond
with your refusal to waste your own way.
I, the storm raged, will not waste my power.

So that day. Night’s other shape. The cratered
moon mirrored in the sun’s sleep on the trek
from west to east, how he got here, kisses
rolling on the bed, oratorio
in the morning, bodies fused with bright sky . . .

(31 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Alzheimer's Disease

I had a friend in Seattle who came back from Manhattan.
And from the Dominican Republic and Vietnam,
a journalist there and co-creator here of People.
Back at the P-I where his father died on the job
he became managing editor where before he was cub
reporter. Life had sent him to the wars. Out of Seattle
fifteen years. The volcano Mount St. Helens erupted,
he wrote a book about it, his children were all here,
their mother in the East, he remarried the Indian
lover of a lifetime, teased her with Sacajawea,
she came back with a word he did not know, it meant white shit,
and he knew it, she told him, that’s all he needed to know,
don’t forget it, she laughed, and off they went to fish rivers,
. . . when she said the word bantering one day he asked what
and that began the thing he did not know what to do with
but mix martinis and sit on the dock, fishing alone,
and she gathered him to her and the doctors told her
what seemed to be happening, he was now another man
suddenly old at fifty-five, run out of memory’s
lifelong tape, stopped before he noticed, so where would he go
with her when she was here, and she stayed home to care for him,
did he know she loved him, his wit, the way he told stories
that were nothing but true, she could smell war when she heard it.
Now he was fishing with his father and drinking again
two pitchers of martinis between them, and caught nothing
but he smelled the death his father missed, even his own . . .
She hired a woman to watch over him, she went back to work,
time passed with the tides, the lake washed up fish already dead
and he quit drinking, maybe fish could stay alive then,
pulled his line from the lake, looked in, and her word came back
and as quickly left the moment he slid over the side.
He had forgotten nothing, only what her word meant.

(30 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where Marlene Hatcher Is

I was in the Quicksilver Bar the day she took sick. Same place where not long before she looked over at me and stared. I was staring back, else I would not have seen the way she looked at me. I may have been just about there by then, but I was not too drunk or high to know the look of a woman asking to be addressed by her name, how she first said Marleen-ah. She was sitting at a table in that dive, with people to whom she was paying little or no attention. I got up the gumption to go over and ask her, May I buy you a drink? She arose from her chair and sashayed over to the empty stool at the bar next to my beer. We had a stiff drink together. She said she ought to be going. "May I see you home?" She thought that "would be right nice." "Is that a Southern accent?" "Southern California."

She had that slow, lazy-looking amble when she wasn’t drinking. She was a sight to see. You can’t imagine. Nor can I remember it exactly, though there is enough to say a few more words. All I knew when I looked over and first saw her looking at me was what the cojones in Hemingway know, but that’s bullfighting and this was a different mode of grace . . . This was whatever it became, but it did happen, as they like to say, "at first sight." For me at least. She asked me to come on slow, she had work to do. Call me sometime . . . I did, many times. I don’t recall how long after that she took sick. I do know the day she asked to go to the infirmary we were talking animatedly in the Quicksilver when suddenly she said she felt poorly and wanted to see a doctor.

When I’m asked where she is now I have to say I don’t know. I know where we were that first day and I know I called her and saw her after that I don’t know how many times, and when she took sick I escorted her to see a doctor and went back to see her many times before the day she must have felt better and wanted to resume what we had been doing in the privacy of how many embraces because her ten bare toes prodding me meant what we knew from before she landed in the infirmary. Those toes as creamy as her voice indicated, well, I won’t tell . . .

Even though she’s alive to me now only in memory, I don’t know if she stayed in New England or returned home, where she could see the Watts Towers from her mama’s house. I do remember the texture of her skin, the timbre of her voice, her own musk, the slowness with which she moved, saving up what was coming. I may remember nothing more, but that, in itself, stands for all of her. Ask any dying aging man, some younger than me, and they’d tell you how precious memory is even though they can’t remember what it’s called.

I don’t want to go on talking about her, makes me miss her more. Marleen-ah Hatcher . . . la-di-da lady, if you see this call me here . . . some days I feel like what I’m doing I need a little encouragement from you to keep going. You know, like wetting your finger before you turn the page to say what never fails to surprise me, or smile when I say "Oh," and you do what you want and one or the other of us–it’s my move usually–goes on from there beginning in earnest what was promised but who between us could have known for sure?

(29 March 2011)

Epigraph to Water in the Forest of High Romance

Well, la-di-da, Marlene Hatcher . . . I came up to the infirmary to see how you’re faring in shaking the hepatitis, you been heavy on my mind languishing in the park smoking ganja, thinking up the next song, something about water in the forest of high romance.

How fetching you are in your robe showing a little cleavage, but my gaze floods with your African sheen as you lick a forefinger to turn the page to the next sepia-soaked photograph, remarking your people were also a little Navajo, and I say Oh? and you prod me with ten bare toes.

(28 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, March 28, 2011

Water in the Forest of High Romance

Bringing the height of romance down to size,
eye level say, you see what’s missing is water
meant to quench a body’s incessant thirst
where the dry forest, nearby, looks easy to find.

Poetry is about to disappear for word weavers
whose thread is prose woven with a loom
in the room where I wrote poems,
where Betty no longer wove wall hangings.

Because high romance is too much to bear,
we have our good sense, our sheer acumen
expanding moonlight to view how others
find tricky little phrases for their verse

that never drills holes in quest of water,
no steel-whorled auger biting through rock,
and Betty long gone took her loom with her,
I stayed with the gig in smaller quarters.

Any cadence resembles a death-knell
where a love of life is expendable
and water over the falls great peril
when elephants trumpet the herd to bathe,

a pride of lions tires of being observed,
giraffes look wherever they want but down,
tourists recite pretty little verses
aping Kipling’s white-man’s burden.

(28 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

The Sun Out Loud

Smell of the end of winter,
warm weather beginning,
warmth cut through
with echoes the soul craves.
After the first winter here,
between its end and new
beginning, a rush of surprise,
a body's joy never there
in warmer climates

Winter in Massachusetts
rain followed snow, bone cold.
Other than there, and here,
you were lucky to have
so few winters in your life,
continual warmth that held
as long as you sang to the sun

I was happy: One warm day
I said to myself, I am alive!
walking the landscape
of birdsong, of horses
switching their tails, neighing,
cropping pasture grass.
Animals and weather,
silences to calm
what was startled

Now the end of winter
echoes from the first year here
living someplace never
to be known. Is there time
to know life alone is enough
in the only skin there is
and will ever be

(25-28 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Mojo Is What a Man Has, She Said

Irish Cathleen should know, but Juan told her
she was always around men, not women,
and what would a man say about mojo
but swear only he had the black magic . . .

When you go someplace you never write back
but once. No one can be sure a letter
arrived, thus the legend is created
by others: you are happy to be gone . . .

The year he went south Reynolds did not know
espanol. Two years later he knew well
the language of the bastards who beat him
until he was silent, then sent him back . . .

In London Isabel wrote poetry
the Nobel poet Octavio Paz
praised. There was death etched in each imaged line.
She spoke English while Reynolds wrote his down . . .

After he met Adore in New Orleans
Ira never wrote home. Virginia was too far,
he could not say he loved a black woman
who loved him. Who there knew such happiness . . .

Willie had many women. Some were his
to keep if he wished, as long as she liked.
Yes, she gave herself completely to him,
but nothing lasts. He demanded too much . . .

When a man has mojo is it better
than a woman’s? Juan has no way to know.
If he could put his body in a mask
and be woman, that was the only way

to know what he had never cared to know.
He would take Irish Cathleen’s word for it.
No reason why mojo was only men’s,
when Irish Cathleen could keep Juan in thrall . . .

When Reynolds returned to America
without Isabel, he wrote a poem
set on an island where the doctors were
always working up magic of their own,

the chorus at dawn no more than at dusk,
all the weather in that world held at bay
by words. He mailed the poem to her place
in Mexico City. He heard nothing.

The envelope returned Address Unknown.
You can’t hear what’s not said, Reynolds knew that.
Better to let the body have its say
like Willie did, then waiting for her

she let him come. Every woman who loves
a man wants him happy so he cherishes her
and always wants to return to the nest
between her legs where the mojo happens.

(28 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Young Jackson

Young Jackson is from wherever he is,
mostly from the country near the levees
where lights are dark, nobody walks but him
only because there is no other way,
and nobody sees the stars anyway.
He likes to go to town to hear music.
He’d stay home and listen but he has none.
There’s an old falling-down house no one claims,
no one knocks down, no one sleeps there but him.
One day he heard these men doing music
not far from his house, you can call it that
if you don’t have a home, and there they were
with drums, bass, sax, and horn, and did they jam . . .
He thought he knew how to talk about what
but not how, besides he wanted to play
not talk, he wanted to woo animals
back where they belonged, humans took over
too soon, crocodiles, pelicans, and snakes
four legged, two legged, and no legged,
and they might eat you up, land on your head,
or slither up to you in bed, but men
beat hell out of you if you didn’t mind
what they said, and you know, I never did,
he said one day he stopped me for a dime,
I gave him a quarter, he followed me
to Adore’s, she invited him inside
and after an hour she said he could stay
if he didn’t steal, do that and you’re gone
for good . . . He would mind the lady,
he would be quiet, he would leave his friends
where they were, in the river, in the marsh,
even in that bed that sure was no match
for this day bed in Adore’s living room.
What’s your name, honey? Adore asked. Jackson,
he said. You don’t have no last name, sweetheart?
They call me Hey kid! Nigger boy! you know . . .
That’s okay, Jackson, That’s like what they called
Adore here: Nigger girl! and I let them . . .
Then I found this house out in the bayou
where I didn’t have to hear that no more
and found a baby bird that went with me
to town and all over that lovely place
I made my own until I grew too tall
to justify my girlish ways and here
I am. Jackson went over and kissed her
and put his arms around her and held on
for dear life as she held him tight to her.
So Adore and I slept in the back room
when she was home and I was with her there.

I slept in HO HOTEL when she was out
in New Orleans with that Questionmark,
whom I saw only that once the loas
must have led me to him or him to me
bent over like his name, older than death
but Adore loved him because he loved her,
besides he wasn’t as old as he looked,
she declared. She learned new potions for love
he taught her and she made them up for me,
Juan Flores who abandoned his old loves.

Because Jackson was gone during each day
we made love in sunshine as though nighttime
was for traipsing around . . . when she was home.
Eighty years, she looked like a girl again,
this time tall to start, but a way with her
mojo no man is gonna bitch about . . .

(27 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, March 26, 2011

After Long Waiting

A little whisper in one ear is all.
Who will believe a storm can come of it?
She is in his arms, or is he in hers?
This throbbing, heartbeat, counterpoint, love’s ache,
And what else is there to do on Sunday?
Surely the days of the week are equal . . .
There is this wildness no matter how old
a body gets, arousal as ever,
consummation to keep from dropping dead–
that’s a barroom quip turned on its flat head . . .
And she’s no occasion for laughter.
Wears a dress that leaves nothing left to dream,
gamine smile luring you to her own street,
wearing nothing underneath, like she said
in better days, before they quit speaking
body language. He thought he would leave here
before she arrived, going to bring her
where she was dreamed, between sleep and fever
that’s called insomnia in all the books,
cradle of drugs for any occasion,
where once he could see out in the alley
cop cars driving through turning right, dead end
to the left, and this woman with her dress
coming off asked him to help get it on,
and so the annals of marriage are filled
with insignificant moments purloined
from the law, and she could attest to risk,
too young to be here but in fifty years
another lady hooks her arm in his
and leaves, there’s too much to do together
before the coach arrives, midnight striking
its fiery warning, where do they go now
but one place or another: the stars blink,
meteors fall, for the first time their lives
mesh like skin molded to a lover’s touch.

(26 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

To You

If I can say a word that stands for love
I will. The night is swallowing the day,
an act of homage (humans call loving).
There are these bodies that need attending.

Praise your mind that imagines my body
Praise your body my mind can enter
If there is a word for oasis
your name evokes the smell of water
and drop by drop your lips with their resin
kissing the tree concealed by shadows
with their rays of light jarring the darkness
If you tell me what the word for home
means in your fingers (another word for love)
devotion is nothing like what it is

in action. The night is giving back
to day what it loved. There is that word love
one time too many, the walls of letters
falling away to show how bodies move.

Look at the phases of the moon break up
Give what you can to the sound of the sea
too far away but for memory’s conch
whose soft roar is the tide a body loves

and once there the day gives back to the night
all that never arrived until now (love)
though I never speak of the moon
and you never say the sun’s name.

Age riddles bodies still kissed in their sleep
How long will it be before I touch you

(26 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, March 25, 2011

For Leila Shulamite

So much of our history means nothing,
which is to say it means no more than yours.
I will find a sunny place in shadows
to smell the end of winter. When the spring
vaults the sky and lands on both frozen feet
and begins thawing, you may think I see
what is not there and never will be here,
but that is a raw dish of death life holds
tightly with fingers arthritic to touch,
that cannot grasp or be grasped without pain.
There is nothing certain to come of this.
The birds have forsaken the missing tree.
The sky fills blue chests, the ships fill with sail.
I would hope something awaits to learn from.

Chicana sephardi, listen to songs
as though you could hear with your mother’s ears.
They are all old songs. You listen and love
the dip of a knee, head held high, the old
sounds running water heralding the warmth
of her eyes, her lips, all of her is yours,
you want to follow the beat of your pulse,
you remember while waiting in her womb,
already seeing the shape of your life,
Leila Shulamite, how the shadows fall,
your fingers drumming down their splintered length,
the work of days and nights come to bless you,
sleep delivering you from all that’s gone,
waking to breathe the tattoo of morning.

(25 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

History Is Only Another Skin

In Memphis Ira stole the money and went south.
Rich woke Abe and Dave and they looked for him.
Resigned, they went west, as planned, horses fresh
from the livery stable, fed, watered,
rested. Crossed the Mississippi, rode days
to the Arkansas, put up in Fort Smith,
looked for work. Nobody worked here. Outlaws
roamed the countryside and came into town
to spend their loot on the usual fare
history records of all renegades . . .
The brothers McAlexander found work
in Jenny Lind, the Swedish nightingale’s
coal mining town Abraham’s son Manuel
would be born in when it was Mine 19,
his father’s labor underground passed down
with a cotton tenant farm legacy
on the other side of the Arkansas,
crossing the river twice each year for work
to feed five boys and one girl, then two sets
of twins, the first alive before Abe died,
the other twins dead not long after him.
Family at the end of normal life . . .

and in the life that died with Abraham,
imagine the family going on,
if the past was but half of the future,
no going back to Virginia or south
of Memphis to New Orleans. Beulah
and Lahoma gave birth on the red dirt
of Oklahoma, living in Fort Smith
where the first married and then the second
followed into the servitude of wives.
Imagine Manuel going through high school,
Hitler, Hirohito, Mussolini
names only, the first son, Bobby, living
to die of old age, without a brother . . .
No one would bother writing anything.
Day would begin at dawn and night at dusk.
The old feud between white and black would go
unnoticed, Jim Crow not even a name,
for nobody may roil the populace
with impunity, the poor whites taught well
from birth to label all blacks with the name
that has never disappeared from the earth,
proving history is not fantasy . . .

When I wake I go straight to the bare desk.
The night leaves papers strewn over the floor.
After this is done I will gather them
and read what I dreamed, all the wild stories
not even I can believe easily,
and go back to the pulsing screen to write
what was left from sleep, I a lucky man
nearing life’s end, gambling that my four score
and ten will stretch to twenty more, ninety
an age ideal for sleeping sitting up
and beginning where the dreams always end.
The woman who shares my work, who does all
my sloughed skin did and all she must do now,
I move so rarely from my perch up here
spreading my arms upon waking, flying
across the page that is eternity
beyond the Preacher’s promise of heaven,
mine own hell composed of cotton’s thorns, coal
dust, a widow’s tears, all the wars over
until the next, war the health of the state
said the hunchback Randolph Bourne dying young
in this country I never give up on . . .

(24 March 2011)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Samantha / Savannah

Her mother stripped and did hand jobs mostly but straight fucking too.
She didn’t know about any of it
and, if Roosevelt could help it, wouldn’t
ever have to deal with those cesspools of shame. She could stay whole.
He needed to take her and Virgil out
of New Orleans.
Their mother’s name was Samantha too but worked as Savannah.
She never cared to see her little girl or her little boy.
He knew she stayed doped up to keep going.
He wished he didn’t feel like he’d failed her,
she had been a perfect wife to him and mother to their kids
until they left Arkansas and came here.
He looked in vain for work and she stayed home
because he believed that’s how it should be.
One day she went for a walk and ended up on Canal Street.
With her children, one holding each of her hands, she walked right by
this place with STRIP JOINT in neon, making a note to herself
to go back and look inside. She went home, fed the kids, put them to bed,
Roosevelt arrived, he had been drinking,
they fought, he struck her, she fled, returned to Canal. The STRIP JOINT
operator liked her looks, hired her on the spot,
after hours she learned firsthand the back room.
The guy who hired her, Roscoe, said she could sleep with him for now,
which turned into an eternal present.
Roosevelt found her not long after, he’d heard she lived in there
and made a scene one day, punched out Roscoe,
and fled the scene when he heard the sirens.
He told the children their mother had gone back to Arkansas
and asked him to tell them how much she missed her sweet family
but her own mother was dying, her father feeling poorly,
and it was only right that she care for them, she would be back
as soon as she could.
By the time he got the job at The Saloon he was desperate for a paycheck.
Now he made sure to have a woman come in and care for them
and walk them to where he was, it was on her way home.
Every night or early morning, when they should have been in bed, he walked
with them to get ice cream, whatever they wanted,
and they all laughed, cracked jokes, and were happy
all the time, day or night. Samantha was the one missed her most.
She wrote letters to her mother, Roosevelt said he mailed them.
He dropped them off at the STRIP JOINT, left them with the bartender
trying to watch for Roscoe to leave before he went inside.
He never saw his wife. He heard she whored
after hours. He hoped she read the letters.
He would soon have money enough to move back to Arkansas.

(24 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


I went to see Ray. He was down on all fours crawling toward the door, which wasn’t locked so I opened it before he got there. I said, Drunk again? It was not a question. He rolled over on his back and raised his hands and feet up making them look like four paws. I got him off the floor and he offered me a drink. I asked him if he had gone by John Biggs’s tomb lately. He slurred something that sounded like I don’t haunt cemeteries . . . I laughed. He poured himself a drink, clumsily, splashing over the edge of the glass. I sat on a chair and watched, tensely. I asked him if he wanted me to take him to detox. He waved me away, almost falling. I was there fifteen, twenty minutes; luckily, I had promised to help Roosevelt close up. Ray slurred in reply something that sounded like How’s he doing . . . I told Ray why I had to leave now. I promised to drop by later to see how he was. He waved me away once more. This time I left.

The ordinary is rare, I thought, walking to Bourbon after taking the cab back to Canal, where I bought a pack of smokes, for old-time’s sake–hadn’t had a cigarette in over twenty years. I had stopped drinking again, and I wanted to be suitably miserable when I looked in on Ray. I chuckled at such a thought.

Roosevelt was happy with the night’s take. Virgil and Savannah were eager to leave. I asked if they were going to have some ice cream and Savannah replied, We get a milkshake! Roosevelt said he’d had some trouble with "these three young men who said they knew you, one of them said he’s your son, they were drunk when they came in and could hardly walk when they left. I asked if they needed help and they started calling me nigger this and nigger that, I said they better get out or I’d call the cops, and when they kept on I had to follow through, and I guess they wound up in the Tombs." I didn’t tell Roosevelt anything but "I’m nobody’s father," and was happy the kid and his buddies File and The Driver were out of commission for at least the rest of the night, and I told Roosevelt he had handled it all the same way I would have . . . He was too polite to remind me I was a white man. He knew I was well aware of the fact in spite of my Spanish name, which didn’t mean either that I was Latin American.

I was going to take the cashbox home with me but I realized I’d told Ray I’d be back, so I asked Roosevelt to look after it. He hesitated, then said, "Well, all right, Mr. Flores . . . " The two kids were pulling on him, one on each arm, and when he assured them they were going, I put the box in a bag, drew the drawstrings tight and handed it over. They went one way, I went the other, and because The Saloon was locked up by now I walked back to Canal to call a cab from the drugstore where I’d bought the cigs.

That night I delivered Ray to detox. That would take a while, I was told by two people at the center. The man looked like he’d been an inmate here himself. The woman was a little used up too. I looked in on Ray before I left and he was passed out.

I went to Adore’s house. She was there. I asked why she was home tonight. She looked at me and said, "None of your business, lover." We had a fight then. She wouldn’t tell me what she’d been doing and because I hadn’t seen her in over a week I was angry. She didn’t give in. I kept on and she told me, "Get the hell out if you need to be so disrespectful to me." I snapped out of it then. I went over to her and tried to embrace her, she resisted, I shouldered my way in and she relented, we embraced, and soon we were in her bed.

I learned when it was light outside that she had broken up with the man I called Questionmark, which name she found hilarious, even reminding me that he wasn’t as old as he looked, smiling wryly as though to say something more without words. I asked why, and she said again it was none of my business, omitting "lover" this time. She looked happy enough. I still wondered if I was as good with her as he was. I didn’t ask, though. I learned long ago to keep my mouth shut about other men when I was around a lover with a long line of predecessors in her memory banks, however well remembered they might be . . .

(24 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander 


Artemis slayed Orion. His bearskin
rose into the night sky, where stars outline
his body’s margins. You can see him there,
hunting. I do not know his prey now,
nor do you . . . the myth says he died for love,
the love of Artemis who was jealous
and if she could not have him no one could.

When I drove at night I parked in rest stops
and looked up and there he was, hunting.
In motel rooms I watched Some Like It Hot
and The Misfits, well, any movie
she was in, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,
even The Asphalt Jungle, her first role.
Like every young man I was in love . . .

imagining myself an old man, rich
and possessive of her charms;
or young and buying diamonds
for her (or my other love, Jane Russell);
or the aging cowboy hunting mustangs
only to find his last love on the plains;
or in drag, wooed by her in dress

diaphanous to the eye, her breasts
in outline like Orion's wife on earth,
her lips on mine, the web between her legs
too newly woven to have been there long.
But I was betrothed already,
my beloved and I clandestine
creatures of night in Seattle bistros.

Three decades and we were married again,
the first had failed. We lived in an outpost
of the Great Lakes, where she had come to teach,
I with her. There is one story only
she taught me, when she was not even home . . .
the Lakota breed Nancy looked across
the room at the photograph on my desk.

I didn’t know Karenlee played softball,
she said, startled. I turned around, looked.
My beloved’s hair had been died blonde
before she came here. Her Danish grandma
stopped nearby on the way west. She was hired.
New Scandinavia, she called it.
I wondered, she would quip, if that was why . . .

In the photograph the blonde was swinging
at a pitch. In bed Karenlee asked me
in California, What will you name me?
Daddy called me Kee, and so did Mommy.
I’m known by that name here, in Marin.
But it makes me sound like I’m still little.
, I said, conflating her names.

Nancy gestured when I asked, Where? . . .
I never understood why she married
the white guy who worked as a janitor
except they had two boys together . . .
She was a looker. I saw where she looked.
That’s Marilyn Monroe . . . Nancy said, Oh!
. . . a story I never tire of telling.

Karenlee reminds me her intellect
won her honors throughout America,
in the west, in the east, the middle west
where we were living now unhappily
but closer than ever in our one-flesh
biblical fulfillment. It was our past
we could not overcome, that long ago

time all lovers may find a burden
as we did. I had been some Orion
back when her husbands were deserted
when I came to California and she
was whom I called, hardly able to wait . . .
She called my wives when she was in town.
Now she looks up with me at the night sky.

                              (for Karen Lee Clarke Alexander)

(24 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


You couldn’t be something you’re not,
not easily, that’s for sure.
You let the stock get low,
the alabaster windows on Bourbon
glared in the late afternoon sun,
Ray came by to say you ought to hire
a helper. He posts a sign on one wall.
The only applicant who knows
what to do is hired.
Juan knows this is the break he has needed,
and he sets to plannng to sell
what he doesn’t even own yet.
The man’s name is Roosevelt and he's black.
The tourist trade doesn’t slack off.
After his first week Roosevelt opens
and closes. A month goes by. Ray is pleased
Roosevelt takes responsibility
for balancing the till after hours.
Juan doesn’t try anymore to sober
Ray up, the ring of alcoholism
is in his nose. Pull and see him go off
wherever home is, you don’t need to know . . .
But it’s not a woman who owns the ring.
A little boy takes his sister
by the hand up the street to see Daddy
home, keep him safe, away from the demons.
Where’s your mother? Juan asks Virgil.
She went to town, she don’t come home.
Virgil adds, Samantha don’t know where
she is. Virgil talks as though their mother
couldn’t find her way back and had to stay.
Roosevelt confides in Juan there’s no harm
raising kids alone, without their mother.
Did you call the police? Juan asks.
Roosevelt says there was no need,
she had a wild hair that grew much longer
the more she hung around Canal,
the strip joints. You go over there now,
he said, you can catch my wife working out
in the back room when she’s not on stage.
Samantha pulled her daddy’s arm,
Let’s go, daddy, we can have some ice cream,
you promised . . . It’s enough to exhaust Juan,
the life he never reached, he might have found,
but too busy going from coast to coast,
from one woman to the next,
filling the holes in his soul as fast
as yet another opened gaping wide
. . . but what did he know,
it was already too late,
the train had arrived on time,
the conductor went through the cars
punching tickets. This was better than
going out to wait where the crossroads met.
This way Roosevelt could tell his children
there were also good white men in the world.
Ray liked him saying that. Juan didn’t care,
he knew reasons men wanted families
were too abundant with no need to catalog,
a mother who leaves her children stays off
in the shadows at first, watching them grow
and forget her, you can raise all her kids
you want to have and never get started . . .

(23 March 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander 


                         nicest thing anyone ever said to me honored you:
"your voice reminds me of that guy," he said, "what’s his name?"
there were lots of people heard me read, you were proud of me,
I didn’t stutter even once, I found the words down there,
brought them up, declared my love for you how many ways
I don’t remember, nor do movies say, A Place in the Sun
or Giant, or Cleopatra, the one that truly counts
as manna in this wilderness, where your eyes, my voice,
a body together with a body, my man’s, your woman’s . . .
how does it go? our friend Elizabeth in Kansas:
"I tell all my friends about you, Kee, I say go look
at the actress you resemble, and they don’t have to look"
at her death mask now, nor do I, you are more alive
than when you were twelve like the girl in National Velvet
who looked like you at ballet or playing piano,
your father at the race track, your mother with other men,
but nobody stopped you from becoming anyone you were
in a big city smalltown Spokane unlike Raintree County,
the shrew Martha asking Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
confessing, "I am, George," and he whom she married twice
walks the bridge between suites in Puerto Vallarta leaving
before you come home to improvise with chords of normal life

(23 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


You could never catch her, she was that fast.
She wore such long dresses in the country
animals hid under the overhang.
I did not know her well, let alone love
her legs ascending where someone might love
her. And her long neck, Modigliani’s
woman, the left bank come back to the farm.
She shed her clothes, walked into the water.
I didn’t even try to follow . . .
She waded so far when she was naked
she controlled the current like a woman
insists she give a man all she has
until either she is gone or he is.
Her eyes glittered, pearls caught in the sun
to warm her on the other river bank
where I wanted her but had no courage
that day, the last day, the furious day
you never recall you don’t rue the light
she let surround her, drinking it in slow
as dust mixes with ashes in the rain.

(23 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Only the Past Has a Future

Don’t tell me the future because I worry
what the wind says when it howls
and why the rain sprinkles then pours
until I see nothing new in the sky

This is how poems start looking for rhymes
at a slant, off the edge of of, like if
it don’t bring in money how about yourself
giving up this pansy practice for crime

The last woman I loved tells me you make five,
I insist it is only four I loved
and now I must ask the witchereen
if I pass muster, if I am still sane . . .

Let’s get into a little action . . .
Don’t worry if you seem to be shunned
in the silence following the cry of a loon,
it don’t mean you’re no beautiful woman

None of any of this is a poem
though it constitutes space and time
. . . the doddering masters of rhyme
know art is more difficult than it seems

and death comes for you far too soon,
you are walking down a country lane
when out comes the water and rainbow man,
one to slake your thirst as the other rains down

(22 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


                                           for Naomi Radunski

I don’t know where the sky ends and you begin.
Pale saffron of dawn, deep crimson sunset.
The great waters falling over the edge
of the world. The planet is breaking up.

A hippo in the mud snouting its way
across, middling along, pausing, diving.
What was it like to be born and reared here?
Dr. Livingstone, I presume, you learned
at bedtime, your favorite story told
until it could not possibly be true.

Mugabe ruined Doris Lessing’s Zimbabwe,
she’s in London mourning her childhood home.
You’re in New South Wales, with your bakery.
You love a man down coast who plays congas.

You are thinking of going back home
where elephants are happier than when you left.
You would bake cookies as an act of love.
Maybe by Christmas. In America
like any other year, then Europe,
finally Zambia, Livingstone, home . . .

(22 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

The Horses

He went to work as usual.
Every night of the week, between sundown
and closing time. The Saloon prospered.
Ray’s drinking habit grew worse. His wife left.
Thirty years of marriage, and grandchildren
and all the lad had left was a bottle,
one at a time until they were empty
like him passing out. Juan took on the shift
Ray had worked, opening and cleaning up,
sixteen hours a day. Adore was not home
nights, but HO HOTEL was always open.
There was just enough left of him
after a day and part of a night . . .
He walked the dark streets, the back way
and up in his room collapsed and slept long.
The desk clerk, as requested, awoke him.
There was a shower and a private room
in back of The Saloon. But no bed there.
Every morning, before the day started,
he called Ray and left a message.
Ray called back when he was sober.
Ray came by in late afternoon
to say hello and go across the street
to eat at the Absinthe House.
Juan didn’t bring up leaving town.
Ray said he was leaving the place to him.
Juan asked where he was going,
Ray said, Hell probably, Heaven maybe–
depends on who’s running the place by then.
Juan said, Tell the truth and shame the devil.
One thing though, Ray added, it’s in your name
Johnny Flowers. That OK? . . . No,
Juan Flores is official now . . .
Why don’t you bring Cathleen out here?
Ray asked as Juan rose from his chair.
I would be afraid for her life,
Juan replied matter-of-factly.
You remember what happened to Betty,
the year we met? Irish Cathleen loves men
more than life itself, or at least as much.
Juan left the House, and crossing the street
realized he must have told Ray the truth.
The days went by like horses breaking out
of sleep’s corral. He dreamed Cathleen
was here. She had brought no clothes. Nakedness
becomes you, he said to her in his dream.
She did with him what she wanted.
In his dream. The dreams as old as they were.
Then the horses were gone, and here he was.
The corral empty.

(22 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, March 21, 2011

West Coast Recall

If it was me, Adore said . . . It wasn’t.
He called San Francisco. Irish
Cathleen wanted him to come. He could stay
with her and drive her car, she would take care
of his needs. He knew she had needs.
What would she do with her bevy of men?
She wasn’t asking how long he would stay.
For years they had tried to love. When they met
he had just turned twenty-one,
she was a month away from eighteen.
Dear reader, you can find the whole story
elsewhere, why tell it all again . . .
Forty years and more had passed.,
Irish Cathleen had already left there
to go to Massachusetts with him.
When Carlos disappeared, she fought with him.
He could no longer remember why.
Would she? That was twenty years old,
her flight back to the West Coast.
She drove. In Wyoming she got laid.
Guy at a restaurant on his way east.
Juan thought it was fitting she would tell him.
She was beautiful, and knew it–
her olive skin, her dark hair, black Irish
painting her nails red, everything he loved
in a woman . . . she was bright as the sun
at noon, her voice gentle yet strong,
her body voluptuous, her step light
from ballet, fingers carved for piano.
Irish, men said (not adding Cathleen,
only Juan said both names), was a woman
no one would pass without a second look.
When he got off the phone it was all planned.
He would fly out for a week, stay with her
on California, near Golden Gate Park,
drive her Morgan to the peninsula,
see Monterey and Carmel,
and stay near Cannery Row like old times.
A story you know already, reader.
I surprise myself going over ground
where once around already ages you.
Don’t ask me what I mean. Just remember
the year 1962 and the girl
dancing through the dutch doors
into the street, empty once she was gone.
That happened near midnight in Monterey.
Carmel had more sun. Next day he drank wine
on the beach and when the bottle was gone
he slept. He woke. Sun charred his swarthy skin.
He rode the bus back to the city,
white buildings looming above the blue bay.
"A man in himself is a city,"
the good doctor Williams of Paterson
had said. Juan remembered and wrote it down.
He didn’t need to reopen the book.
Irish Cathleen wanted only one thing.
Any man could fuck her, wine and dine her.
Only he would make her life worth living.
A day with him, she forgot years without
him. The only man who never bored her . . .

(21 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Outside This City

Maria Teresa wrote to say she loved him still.
And Irish Cathleen sent him a reply
to a letter he wrote to her.
He already knew where Paula was,
married and happy, but he did worry,
it was so hard to keep on going straight
when you still loved the unexpected thing
happening to you. And Betty was fine,
he guessed, married last he heard, so OK,
between Chicago and San Francisco
and Portland and New Orleans
he chose the place where nothing worked
as well as before Katrina.
A woman in Russia named Katrina
wished him love and a long life too . . .
Betsy loved him every way to Sunday.
He missed Adore, her body’s velvet skin.
When Betsy went back to work Juan returned.
Adore happened to be there. She had time,
she said, to let him know what had happened.
He told her, I’m not sure I want to know . . .
When she smiled she glowed. She said, Come to bed.
Nothing could dissuade her, nor him.
The spark that lay in ashes rekindled
as though they’d been hauled, and they had,
and Adore didn’t need to know, she told
herself. When they were through she told him this;
She’d been treating the same man who walked by
that day the loa found and mounted Juan . . .
You know, the old guy with the questionmark
his body made . . . he was younger than that,
young as you, Juan, maybe even younger
where the blood flows like a river through flesh,
and I never stopped loving him ever,
he came to me, said he needed curing,
I cured him all right . . .
Juan told her about Chicago,
he told her about San Francisco too,
and she told him he ought to get away . . .
if it was her, she said, she would go west . . .
Get out of town and let yourself go

(21 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


Juan was back with Betsy.
Madame Peggy’s was bustling.
Betsy worked the nights
and fucked and fed him by day.
Juan stayed away from Adore.
He wanted her to have some fun.
If he were eighty and half his age
in bed, skin still tight to the bone,
Juan would do what she had done
the night her client was echoing her
incantation: leave by the back door,
let her young man go his own way
and she hers, and how long was up to her.
He did walk by from time to time,
seeing no sign of her . . .

The kid came back to The Saloon
with The File and The Driver
in tow. Keep me from these three,
he muttered to Ray.
The kid wanted to know why
Juan couldn’t call him Son.
Or wouldn’t.
The File listened practicing his skill
in filing down a table leg,
and Juan told him to stop
more than once.
The Driver was the only gentleman,
if you could rightly call such a sight
by that word.
Juan told the kid to figure it out.

He wanted to be no one’s father.
The loves of his life were not barren
but their bairn were no part of his own
blood, semen not his, but ovum hers . . .
maybe. It was a great dilemma,
he knew, to those who worried
over such matters.
He had to get his work done.
Adore had twenty years on him
but she was the master of longevity.
There was no difference at all
in bed, only in his mind, and why
would he waste time thinking that way?
As for Iroquois, that New England drunk
in his bed once upon a string of nights . . .

Betsy went with him to sleep at HO HOTEL.
That’s how she spent her vacation time.
She fucked and sucked and tea-bagged him,
let him do her any way he wished, and ate
with him in the little diners nearby.
What more did Juan need out of life than love?
For one thing, everything Adore
possessed by either birth or taking note
with her own eyes of the way of the world . . .
Betsy knew all about New Orleans
on the surface. She could tell you
who was who and why . . .
She had not noticed the neon sign’s
three dark letters until Juan laughed
about her being here made him a pimp.

Then one day before the week was out,
Paolo came by. Their mama’s coffin
might have been found in an estuary.
The authorities were running tests
on what was inside to find out who
it was, not much else remained
but bones. Juan knew it wasn’t her
even before the results came back.
Mama Nell would have better luck
than to end up in an estuary.
At the very least she would be out
among the sea birds and the porpoise
floating beyond the Gulf of Mexico
and as far as farther could take her,
maybe all the way home to be reborn.

(21 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My South

In the movie Sweet Dreams Jessica Lange
does what Sissy Spacek does
in The Coal Miner’s Daughter, only worse,
she dies. Patsy Cline’s husband Charlie
dances alone, Loretta Lynne’s waits
patiently. It’s the origins of these people
magnify the tragedy and comedy
to equal history’s deep wide screen,
and it doesn’t hurt to know one,
like a son his father, to empathize
with the great heartbreak and void of the South.
All wastelands between islands of beauty
haunt the heart that hurts from so much torment.
My mother was an abandoned child
but loved by the man who reared her mother.
Men in white hoods and coats rode horses up
the road past the house. She asked who they were,
and Pap said someone was not taking care
of his family. What she saw close up
when the Ku Klux Klan rode through her childhood.
Her beauty stayed inside her. The man came
to father one who died before the one
lived to write this apology for being born.
I know the seed would never have taken
the ovum if brother Bobby had lived.
There would have been no need. Bobby
would have been all things I was not,
the diesel mechanic our father wanted,
the Baptist minister our mother dreamed.
I didn’t care, I went my own way,
no one would stop me before I ran out
of luck. Never did. The road was too long,
laid out so Kansas straight you went to sleep
if you forgot the narrow Southern roads
nobody drove who wasn’t drunk or wild
for a woman, opossums hanging by their tails
from the trees arching over the highway.
Neon letters announcing the night’s fare
in every sweat-hot city drew big crowds.
I went home. I saw things I never knew.
Everything true I had already dreamed.

(20 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


Let us imagine her lover. Or better yet, yourself . . .
You were young once like her, you had no need
to walk away without loving
or being loved. Specify loved body
not mind . . . The images come later,
after your body fountains into hers.

Where she lives is not named for Lord Byron.
Nor the women whose love he could not cure
himself of. Nor the passions of friendship . . .
Mary in his castle on Lake Geneva
caught up by her monster Adam
beginning and ending where I live now, icily.

When it’s not raining she takes off her clothes
to enjoy her body as immensely
as a woman can. It doesn’t need to rain . . .
If only you would drive the thousand miles,
let me be everywoman to your man,
endure my tongue, slake love between my legs,

I would be a happy woman till death
took you or me from the beach to its breast,
I your succor, you mine, ah the bright leaves
I will never forget, the tree you are . . .

but some images never arrive.
She is shelter or storm, never both.

I put on my manhood. It strains to be.
If it had asked I would reply, Stay home . . .
In the scene in Priest of Love, where his cock
is cast as a shadow on the bedroom wall,
Frieda is waiting to love and be loved.
He is the shade kneeling between her legs.

Lawrence did not live long. Nor did Byron;
Shelley’s life the briefest of all
these wild ones. Their women stay behind
to keep alive whatever they may leave–
fortune yet to come, or disappointment . . .
The only loving is made here, on earth.

(20 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Long Rain

The long rain begins in the morning and by the time noon comes it’s afternoon in the sky.
No one is more desperate than I for water, the cold rain falling into the bay is for you
who give me what I need and keep what you need that I may have who knows what, not I
I know the sound of rain and the thunder and how lightning looks and what happens
to the water filling the ocean that comes back to fill a cloud with what will never stay.
Not long.
She takes off her clothes and walks into the rain, which loves her drop by tender drop.
She wants to know such things again. It may be too long a wait. He’s never going to arrive.
He’s still snared by the dream of the woman who left him and how to get her to come back.
Why should he stay inside with all he has clutched closely to himself and pray in his sleep?
Why do any of us? We are all men. A woman is everything. We have needs. We can love.
A little.

That’s all it takes for the sun to come out again and the birds to tune their instruments.
The ground animals come out of the ground, the woods are covered with drunken leaves.

(19 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Song without Music

If someone sees what’s coming they imagine where it ends.
The words cannot sing without lifting their little wings.
The air floating the body is filled usually with music.
Aging birds die by leaving a claw on the wire as they fly.
Only at the beginning and the end of flight is this so.
If the music lies between the arms of the wind, it soars.

What’s coming is what’s gone and has no need to live again.
If only the gods would release their children they could die.
Aphrodite sees herself in the reflection of sea foam.
Her body welling up in ecstasy is what she knew.
Dionysus preens on the mountain before dancing down.
Women in thrall follow him everywhere he leads them.

But they are the singers of nothing but flesh and blood.
Dionysus would wait until Aphrodite came to him.
She has no reason to love him unless she’s addicted.
Love then would be nakedness, orgasm, childbirth, tragedy.
Orpheus begins with tragedy and never leaves there.
It is so tempting to believe a song must have its music.

He loved the one who pricked her finger with a poisoned thorn.
He could call her by any name he was brave enough to know.
She lived half the year below the earth, half the year up here.
It is when she goes down there she knows what is coming next.
He who pays the rent in such hell uses her for money.
A woman who grows corn mothers her the rest of the year.

There were cults springing up everywhere but sequestered.
No one but initiates could enter the abandoned cave.
Her mother kept her safe under the sky and warm in her arms.
Of course Orpheus found her there and she fell in love with him.
It was a long fall all the distance from here to hell’s pillows.
You cannot imagine what she knew by feeling her pulse.

Does anyone need to declare there is no harvest above?
All the blood pools up here and the flesh is scattered below.
The tenant of hell with all his women can spare one.
If you do not know the story from here remember the climb.
Ice at first, then shale, sound of water, song from meadows.
Aphrodite heard Dionysus singing and there they were.

The sea became part of the mountain and is wearing it down.
The mother of Eurydice does not know Orpheus.
He turns around to ask his beloved, Who is your father?
The clouds are too low to get out of the way of lightning.
When a flock of birds fly up they still mean death is here.
When a god sings without her he knows his music will die.

(19 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, March 18, 2011


So the days have dwindled to nights while we waited on the sun to turn into the moon.
The dark is better to read by than the sun and the sun wipes away the ink I write with.

I have listened to you and heard myself replying, I am going to climb inside you to live.
Do the same with me. Live a long time. I plan to. Where will we go when we go away?

As it is, I walk clouds. No need to fly. The wings worn are wax. You can float only so far
wanting what you don’t need now that the earth has its own way of opening up for you

So mountains, the sides slick and a cairn marking the place your hooves won’t go above
the gap between rocks where the sea swirls below, its whirlpool a contagion of wizards

Put up your defenses, the way a heart clocks the tape inside your head with no reprieve
Knead your flesh, there’s nothing she won’t do, you want her to keep doing it with you

Nevertheless there are no excuses, the blank checks have been cashed, nothing zeros
cannot placate, the grief with tears that pass for laughter, they are so unusual, so wet.

You too: I love your small pockets of love, how they turn inside out and are all I want.
All you want is for him to take you, tell you how much he needs and will die otherwise.

(19 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Introduction to Dionysus

Where you are is where you were
in the unpainted two-story house
where Lew and Flo live in San Anselmo
with their five kids. They smoke dope
with their dad, their mother smokes
what she buys at the all-night stop n go
down the street, I smoke unfiltered
and Lew shoots up in the garage
with Jim and the neighborhood men.
You are listening to Till Tom Special,
the Charley Christian guitar short lived
but impeccable, Benny Goodman’s band
back of him, the way the strings crawl
up your back and whisper Go now, go
to the house in Larkspur where Patty
Cakes bakes your bread and won’t let
you go once you arrive, you don’t know
why, you're nothing like the handsome lad
Janis was set to marry but OD’ed.
You are my baker’s man, says Patty Cakes
Patty Cakes, help me take off my clothes
and I’ll help you strip, we will fuck a while
. . . her darkness is unlike the good time
I’m having getting out of my mind
and back in my body, where I began,
where I will end. She’s no imagined muse,
she means to be where and with whom
she is, she can have her life later
and I mine. I drink when I wake,
I like to make love before sleep,
I smoke the marijuana I'm given,
I drop acid to see what it does,
little head looks like a cobra’s hood,
one pill pulls my mind’s curtains
and there: les fleurs du mal, my life
laid bare as much as anyone's.
In Fairfax I am walking the rope bridge
to reach the house where Terry the sculptor
lives with his beautiful Marsha.
She once lived with Manson in the desert.
She's tall and stacked and has one child
she takes along to Point Reyes and back
because Terry said she should help allay
the intoxicating boredom once
I've heard Morrison has died in Paris
in a bathtub. Lew says, The good
die young. I’ve heard that before . . .
Flo reclines on the back porch
with one child or another, each one
her own with Lew, who makes sure she rests,
she’s been feeling the blues over Lew
and heroin. I go where Lew goes,
I refuse steadfastly to shoot the smack.
I don’t pierce my skin with needles.
I am Dionysus, white boy acolyte,
can’t separate wine god from poet,
as though I must simply to stay living
in the only skin I’ll ever have
on earth . . . I’m turning thirty
where the dirt driveway gives way to asphalt.
The three of us hitch to Marin City,
Jim needs to appear in court,
then over to the wasted brothers
for a hit: Jim’s in need and Lew can use
a little. I sit in a shadow
watching men who have given up nod out,
wondering how I am so spared . . .
Orpheus went to hell to bring his love back,
I don’t even have her now, she’s shooting
meth in her hometown waiting for more,
I've driven her to frenzy dancing
all night with no one I can see,
and she Eurydice, not one
among the maenads following me
now with Charley Christian’s age-old,
still-new guitar doing the Till Tom Special,
odd dithyramb for a prospect with lute
writing a song of loss by the river bank
waiting to lose his head over ladies
who watch it float down the river singing.

(18 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Aphrodite's Map


There are always words that can’t find themselves
much less other words.
Let them alone to wander where they will.
Every thought begins with the eye,
continues inside
where what? . . . will? . . . resides.

Alienation. She asked what my take
on the word was. I said, It may not mean
now what it did. That’s fair, she said.
(I wanted to add . . . long ago. But why?)
She was not only beautiful but bright.
Passionate cook, lascivious in bed . . .

Those were her words. She baked. She grieved one man.
The first, her idea; the second, his.
He may have thought she left her passion where
her face and body showed if you had eyes.
In bed it was what happens afterward
he may have arranged to fit his ideal.

You can’t be lascivious and not play
Aphrodite’s game. She’s a whore, a bitch,
and neurotic forever after birth.
I have known women who sold their bodies
–two from whom I came, and one I married.
I don’t know what alienation means.


When you take off your earrings, baby,
you’re ready to fight. Moira’s mother,
Bette, didn’t want her holes ripped
before she crashed the heavy beer mug
against the head of the woman
telling her lies on the stool beside her.

Moira was home, Bette could do this
if she were drinking long enough,
and so she did. The blood didn’t start
until they were on the floor and Bette
had her down, beating her with both fists.
Then the blood ran. The men stepped in.

No respectable man with high ideals
allows women to brawl, not even here,
on the edge of the pier, where Maria
tends bar during the day and doesn’t see
much she hasn’t seen. O maybe a man
now and then walks in for a beer

and talks to her in low tones for an hour,
he doesn’t want anyone to hear him,
she knows, and until she gets to know him
he’s up for grabs. Her love is her son.
He is the San Diego surfing champ,
her subject of straight-out delivery.


Irish Cathleen is another story,
saved me from Bette and that Maria.
I’ve known her over half a century.
She came after Irene Castenada,
but stayed, or I stayed in her heart
where I had to be when she was fucking.

Other men, I mean. She was that gorgeous,
voluptuous, painted lady, cute doll,
and she didn’t care what she was called,
though it hurt like any man’s sister would
and I had one, who hurt bad. Susanna
didn’t like to talk it out. Rain fell long

but drizzled in Seattle, the pavement
always wet save for the summer.
Then it was warm. Susanna undressed
and masturbated in her back yard
rather than be tempted by a man
she didn’t know and maybe never would.

Irish Cathleen always came back to me.
I was always free. Now her pimp got tough,
she learned alienation. She loved
the guy but he was black and she only black
Irish with olive skin but with red nails.
He wanted to own her. No one owned her.


If someone’s called Naomi, name her Ruth,
though that doesn’t make me Boaz.
The world is very large without a globe
on your desk. Victoria Falls,
for example, is not named for a queen
whose legacy is repression,

it’s just somewhere in colonial
Africa, where revolution
has kept its distance. How would I know why?
How could Moira, named for Greek fate?
Her mother fights in bars and mourns
the death of her only father, murdered.

Her mother is the daughter of a Jew,
Judge Roth, whose New Orleans court
was the one nobody wanted to see
him pass judgment on them. Not quite as bad
as Isaac Parker, the Hanging Judge,
the desperados called him in Fort Smith.

Irish Cathleen would have gone to jail
for Willie. There, she could always write.
Juan made a movie, she the sole actress,
playing the part of a brothel madam
(his mama), last madam in New Orleans . . .
She liked the role, wondered what it was like . . .


I have loved four women and only
they could dwell in my heart, where you can’t see
anything but them, one at a time . . .
Irene was the first, then Irish Cathleen,
who left so many times she never left
for good or bad, She was Irish

like my mother Mama Nell / Madame Doll.
Her father was named for Robert Emmett,
the Irish martyr. On the gallows
he cried at the top of his voice,
Erin Go Braugh! words tattooed on the arm
of her father in a port in Shanghai.

Paula’s father retired from the navy.
He was dying when she left me.
She may have thought I was dying.
She believed my love for her had died.
Though it had not, she knew what she needed.
I cannot tell you how I grieve for love

unless I say the name Maria
Teresa , only Leila Shulamit
a goy gringo like me can love
forever and never see, only hear . . .
she I must conjure! . . . Alienation . . .
Where’s old Aphrodite when you need her?

(17 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Reader

Spare the reader and spoil the scribe.
Juan carried his pages all over town.
He even rang the bell of the blue house.
Fats had not lived there since Katrina.
The woman said she was the caretaker,
Would he care to leave a message?
She was heavy set, darker than Adore.
He said, I just stopped by to see Mister
Domino. I thought he might have returned
already, you know, walking back
to New Orleans, and all . . . I should go,
and did. Big John’s coffin had been transferred
above ground. Should the levees break, no flood
would carry him off like Katrina did
Mama Nell / Madame Doll who still floated
some god knew where but Juan would never know . . .
There was Big Jim Robinson’s house,
not the one in the cemetery
but his widow’s double shotgun,
and thought to introduce himself
but thought again and walked on by.
That man could saw some trombone down the street.
If there were eternal life, Big Jim
would be there. You could grow up here,
and he should’ve if he’d had any sense,
you’d know how to play like Buddy Bolden,
ha ha! You could die in an asylum
like Buddy Bolden. You could be all things
to all women and still give them the eye
all over and up and down one body
leading to the next. He was a rounder,
but you could hear him play across the bridge
when you or he was all the way over
by the Mississippi, across town
from Pontchartrain. If Juan had to die,
and he did, he would prefer to die
a living legend or, at worst, a myth.
Play piano and you were Jelly Roll
Morton’s contemporary, Windin’ Boy,
and Ferdinand made it all up himself . . .
But he carried the pages all over
New Orleans. On St. Charles he dropped by
the brothel and Beth took him to bed
after reading aloud to her
what little there was to read, and she asked,
Who was from Tennessee? anybody?
She sucked him and fucked him and all for free.
She buried her long blonde hair in his crotch
and drew from him the elixir he sought
to rid himself of so he might
get through the Smokies to Memphis . . .
She rode his cock buried in her blonde fur.
The Clifft family was from there.
These Welshmen were all in the future,
their son Frank wedding Peralee Taylor,
the breed Cherokee woman whose father
died in Oklahoma state pen.
Because he was poor he stole a horse
for his little son Walter to ride.
On the true frontier he would have been hung.
Even now, his body was thrown
into the furnace, and Juan remembered
all this shoveling coal in the boiler
when he was too young to know better.
That, dear reader, is the part called
Life in the Boiler Room, to be read before
Calle Tchoupitoulas, which is right here
in my hip pocket. I read it to Betsy.
She would like to hear more, and she insists
I stay here and work and she will feed me
and fuck me and sleep with me and go where
I want, her wrist inside the crook of my arm.

(16 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I am the accomplished one. I send words
where no one can say what I have in mind,
they are never on the tip of my tongue.
I walk the streets and watch shadows
before it dawns on me they are my own,
and by then light illuminates the sky,
the smells waft up the way and lure me on.
Can I help you, honey? she asks. I say
what I want. I sit till old-style coffee
arrives with pastry I never order,
but it’s cheap and I need to save money,
I don’t know why, but I will find out soon,
and if it’s not too late by then I’ll go
spend it on what I need and bring it home,
quarry desired for so long the winds change
and rain pelts the streets with each step I take,
knowing there is no way to find heart’s core.
Now the sun is out, I have given up
my old habits, the drink, the smokes, the girls,
for the need to bend my will to the page.

Back at HOT Hotel, over at Adore’s,
up to St. Charles and Madame Peggy’s house
(Paolo with Georgia, Betsy working),
down to the wharf where Rocky works for Belle
(he’s a man with purpose, I wish them well),
and on to Bourbon, to work The Saloon.
In HOT HOTEL I tell the desk clerk what
he already knows, two neon letters
are out, does he want a reputation
as a fleabag where streetwalkers bring johns . . .
Upstairs, I lift the window, air it out,
this room with a bed, a desk, and what else
does a scribe need? a chunk of stone quarried
to carry up the mountain that’s not there,
a long wait while the beard grows and God
echoes down the canyon of my crazed mind,
commanding nothing, offering nothing,
and you are on your own, motherfucker,
the bare light bulb swinging from the ceiling,
my left hand moving the pen to my right.

It will be a long way down. The horse neighs,
whinnies, goes from a lope to a gallop,
he can see it in his mind’s eye, how they
killed a man dragging him to the alley,
the three of them in town with the sorghum
they haul in weekly, and if the man sees
your father’s father when he was a boy
his eldest brother pedaled the emery wheel
sharpening knives after supper last night.
Sparks flew until one knife was the right weight.
In the morning Richard took it with him.
David liked to drink. He was in the bar
when Abraham encountered the black man,
it never failed, as though he were waiting
to give this white boy a piece of his mind.
He said, You Johnny Rebs got nothing left
to put us in our place. We blacks are free,
you peckerwoods are through telling us what
to do. –The man sneered as he always did,
then put one hand on Abe’s shoulder and pushed . . .

and Richard unsheathed the emery wheel’s
sharpest knife and held it to the man’s throat
to direct him back to the alley, slit
his throat with one clean slice, already dead
the moment the blade plunged under one ear,
the body flopping like a dead chicken
where its head lay lifeless on bloody earth,
the last time he would taunt young Abraham.
Their mother prepared them baskets of food,
their sisters wept with her watching them go
riding south. Then Ira caught up with them,
his bugle lashed tight to his saddlehorn,
saying, You could use another brother
to keep an eye out for what’s coming behind,
play taps at dusk and reveille at dawn . . .
North Carolina was where the woman
came from Abe would marry. Her father Tom,
Cherokee; mother Matilda, Scots name
of their own mother. She climbed to the porch,
took up her corncob pipe and settled in.

That’s what he put down on paper tonight.
It sounded thin to his ear as he read
aloud all there was. He should know
the name of the dead man in the alley,
who his people were, why the man taunted
his father’s father, and who would miss him
now his soul rested with his ancestors,
as Juan hoped he would one day be with his.
He descended the stairs. Outside the sign
read HO HOTEL. He chuckled, went on home,
and where would that be but at Adore’s house?
A man was there, her door closed, candlelight
flickering through a crack under the door.
She was doing gris-gris. The man's low voice
sounded weary, but kept on echoing
the words that she insisted he echo . . .
Juan lay on the day bed in the front room.
He thought to re-read what he had written,
but listened to the door open, then shut,
and read the words that he still found wanting.

(15 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


So much happened nothing became sacred.
If the sky had walls they were all blown down.
Your dead friend’s ghost, pretty one, is ashore.
We are all alone, each a seafarer
sailing the whale road, praying to no one.
I am abed with my wench. I love her
more than the word love ever meant, yet.
Her soft belly is full of her children,
my head running with names like a river.
There is no place to go we have not gone.

Juan liked to sit on a banquette, with pen
scribbling and drawing pictures on napkins
of what was in his mind, from now to then,
followed by the walk around the circuit,
he called it, ending at the levees down
though they looked to be standing, as secure
as a baby at its mother’s nipple.
Did a levee stand for a woman’s breast,
was she alive in the lake like a tale
about something or other fanciful . . .

Never having borne a child was Adore’s
secret. That’s why her skin was unsullied
at eighty, why she bore this young man’s lust
and churned its juices into love he poured
as she gathered the cream where it was pooled
and loved the smell of him as he loved hers.
Juan loved Adore. Why is this a story?
Is it hers, or his? What is a story
when only one writes what the other lives?
There’s nothing sacred now the gods are dead.

(15 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, March 14, 2011


Adore put him between her lips and held
his penis while moving it in and out
of her mouth until he wanted to come,
but did not, rolled onto his knees, and put
himself, all the soul he knew and would know
until age cascaded white hairs on him
and inside her he felt like a white snow
falling through her, taking in a swift rush
spent ovum and semen left over from
her last man, Ira, of whom she spoke now
once he extracted his penis from her
pussy. Ira, she said, gave me his tongue
until I liked to explode, then fucked me
over and over as long as the night
had moon shine brightly to keep us going.
She had turned to her eighties, and old age
meant little to her, never spoke of it,
nor did he although he was approaching
the end of middle age, the start of old
crust around his years with bridle hung
from this old horse saddled from youth
to ride mares until they wanted children,
and none of them did. No Iroquois
had a kid of his, nor did anyone,
and he knew only one whose I.U.D.
she showed him to reveal his sperm stretched by
her ovum on the perfect-circle ring.
Manuela Roma said, I can pop it,
no? and shocked, knew not what to say, said Yes.
She didn’t need more than her four children.
And after they split he knew he was right
to let go what humanity may know
serves the soul like manna but fails to make
tranquillity and joy the crux of home,
and children die the moment they are born.
Adore let him sleep and he did the same
for her. She held his penis with one hand
relaxing as sleep swooned him to her thighs.

(14 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


To a Bodhisattva

The bodhisattva is said to wait until humanity
arrives in heaven before leaving the earth.

The village in Japan was on the sea.
And it was among the most beautiful.
There was one road for seventeen thousand
people. The earth moved, rippled, heaved, splintered,
then sirens called to leave before the sea
loomed forty feet high . . . The cars were backed up
standing still when the wave reached everything
plowing through the land so there was no road
any longer, ten thousand villagers
were dead, missing . . . and seven thousand left
of whom none would recall now The Ballad
of Narayama, the Imamura
Shohei film, the old carried on the backs
of the young to the mountaintop to die
when they turned seventy. Three score and ten,
Someone said, the length of a human life . . .
The old and young alike are left looking.
They see the wreckage and think of carnage.
The five nuclear reactors will spew
from their red hot cones a terrible death
rising into the sky but silently,
unlike the Americans flying bombs
over Hiroshima, Nagasaki,
but no need to bomb now. What was once fire
is lava when visible, yet not here,
where volcanos erupt after the sea
fills with poison. The earth’s tectonic plates
have clashed, the Japanese islands have moved
closer to the American mainland.
Even so, air like water will arrive
to end the old war, and all the new wars,
and a Buddhist temple, too old to say
how old, sways with the tremors and stands fast.
What was accomplished long ago, you ask,
when the innocent died with the guilty . . .

O Bodhisattva, rise! we will follow . . .

(14 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Time's Come

Did you need to know what to do? or when . . .
Will this be your life, back and forth between
one name and the other, wanting to stay
and needing to go, you just know you know
what’s best for you, and the way to get there . . .

You are doing better now, that’s for sure,
save for that hangdog gait you make your own,
limping down the street with a handmade cane,
feeling young, looking older than ever,
knowing the time has come to start over.

Time’s come. No one will find mama’s coffin,
you need to free your brother from the house
where his beautiful whore holds him in thrall,
and wean yourself from her blue-eyed sister,
but don’t leave the one who shelters you here . . .

Her black skin without seams, her body lithe
as though she were forty years younger now
than then. Her lips the color of dark plums,
her body rich as the sweetmeat inside her
you found when you found her in this city

harboring lost souls, giving you a love
no man expects to come his way and stay . . .
Adore. Let her love you and love her back,
she won’t last forever, neither will you,
let her guide you to reach for ecstasy.

That’s what you want, but know it’s not enough.
Still, what other lover holds out to you
welcoming arms that never refuse you
though you be reluctant to embrace her,
hungry for one in another city . . .

(13 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

The Razing

When the floodwaters receded houses
were swept up and hauled off and the people
–some–came home from miles away. They were there
to stay. And all around New Orleans,
nothing done, and years later, nothing done . . .
That’s enough bitchin’, Adore said to Belle.

Adore’s lover Juan, many years younger,
grand nephew of her late husband Ira,
went for a walk while the two women talked
about who they were, who they’d been, would want
to be . . . Juan didn’t want to hear all that,
his brother Paolo and whore Georgia
left Peggy’s house to go to Jackson Square,
where Juan bought cafe au lait, three beignets,
and asked Georgia about Betsy, "my whore,"
he called her, and Georgia told him Betsy
missed him. Ah, it was good to feel desired
by a woman his age, even if she . . .

Juan was missing Chicago. He needed
Chicago. But never would Chicago
and New Orleans meet. City woman,
he would say, you are the last of all loves,
I want you to know. This voice in his head,
how do you get it to go upriver?

After the razing came the spill. Adore
told Belle you could at least rebuild, the oil
would just goo up the bottom of the gulf
and kill everything down there, till up here
the catch would diminish, the tourists stay
away. Belle didn’t think that would happen:
That’s not what came down in Alabama . . .
and they talked late into the afternoon,
the city’s street lamps beginning to light,
the sounds changing, the voices, the music
picking up, and Juan coming home to say
it was time he walked Belle back to Rocky’s.

Then almost sober, Juan went off to work.
Ray was still drinking. He wanted his wife
to go. How could she? She had her home here.
His mother’s house, God rest her ancient soul.
Ray wished Juan luck working his shift tonight:
There were many tourists in The Saloon.

(13 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Ira’s grand nephew was really his son,
Adore knew. And like all wild lads always
misunderstood, sees shadows where the sun
never sets. Bobby’s the kind who must thaw
before rising from his cryogenic
capsule called Winter, six months every year,
going to join the water worshipers

. . . so why haven’t I heard of him before?
Rocky asks. Belle sits beside Johnny Boy,
she prefers to call him, and he lets her.
No objections. He says, I like to talk
to myself about myself. Who would care
if I didn’t? He drinks another beer.
Why did he wait so long to enjoy life?

Rocky wants to know. So does Belle. So talk,
Johnny ne Juan Flores ne Flowers thinks.
He begins to explain why Bobby is
Ira’s kin and first thing you know he’s gone
too far. They are lost and he’s on the loose,
running away from home, far to the north,
up the highway running by the rivers

until they become lakes, cities are towns,
he hires himself out for any odd job
the age of Reagan leaves to be cut back
during a second term. You have to know
how far he is from Chicago to know
why Bobby became a country bumpkin,
give or take a Blue Ridge mountain or two.

You don’t know why what you think makes you sneer
in your can of Jax. Bobby would drink beer
only in bottles, said cans carry germs.
You had to stay overnight to get there,
but the Great Lakes were nothing new to you.
Michigan, Superior–what did it matter?
Pero Dios mio! He had to leave

after one night in the house on the hill
above Grand Marais, Bobby’s mother’s home.
When Ira was working the docks he made
a child with a woman tourist who stayed
too long and then long enough to mother
ever after a child who hated where
he was born. He didn’t like anything

about New Orleans, said he might drown
someday if he stayed, and at age thirteen
was gone to stay. From Grand Marais he went
to Walker hiring on as Leech Lake guide
on the same boat once owned by the father
of Mary Welsh, once Hemingway’s widow
but dead now. Bobby stayed in the hotel

on the lake and ate in servants’ quarters,
he liked to call them. He was his own man
by now, the ditch-digging jobs behind him,
one trip all the way to old Virginia
west of West and north of Carolina
one trip too many. He never forgot
his grandmother’s tale of being orphaned.

It was the War between the States, she said.
My folks were killed by Yankees. I was left
to cry until I got hungry and went
to the neighbors and asked if I could eat
with them. They said, Sure, honey, you can eat
and sleep here, we could use some help around
here, we’ll go bury your folks tomorrow . . .

After observing obligatory
silence, Rocky says, Why don’t you two walk
it off and let me work. Johnny, go see
if Adore’s free to meet Belle, they might get
along like a mother and a daughter,
one eighty, the other sixty, Belle knows
the story. I’d like to know more, Belle says.

(12 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, March 11, 2011

Theory of Tragedy

When the quake begins when does it end?
Tsunami follows. If it happens here
the rich will be sure to capitalize.

I was walking around New Orleans.
It takes a long while to go all the way.
You have to stop to look over the girls.

I’m drinking now. Again. The hurricanes
have a way of getting you back to Start
after Stop has worn out its Unwelcome.

You gotta blame it on something, don’t you?
Li Po drank to write poetry, I’d bet.
I don’t know how the Chinese spell his name.

Ray bought a TV just for The Saloon.
You could watch the tragedy happening
from your table, drinking, killing time . . .

Business today, any day, was slow.
Ray said: Johnny, I hate to interrupt
but’re you still workin’ after I'm off?

I said, You better take it easy too.
He said, I’m drinkin' so I can stay home.
And I thought, There are other tragedies.

Once the rich and gifted fell from great heights.
Shakespeare got that idea from the Greeks
Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides.

Global warming, climate change, whatever
has no name; nor El Nino, La Nina . . .
Only now is the earth like the human

in Leonardo’s drawing of the man
straddling space, touching the poles and edges
of the circle he measured the world with . . .

That brings us back to TV, the earthquakes
San Francisco, L.A., Chile, Haiti
endured before Japan, and I forgot

Iran, Afghanistan . . . the Madras Fault’s
where Ira’s only other living kin
is, too damned cold for tragedy to touch.

Upper Mississippi River Valley,
that's the place to die. Only Indians
have tasted its waters of tragedy.

But what if you're not even Ojibwe?
I ask myself. Ray declares, You can’t beat
life here, if the levees hold. You should know,

The grief you gave and got other places,
you knew better than desert this city,
its music, food, women, laughter, and joy.

(11 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What Is Called Fucking, Writing Could Be, But Not Vice Versa

What is called fucking, writing could be . . .

There are places to walk in New Orleans where you never have to touch the ground.
They were named by a friend of mine the Avenues of the Dead,
there is also one in New York City called Avenue of the Americas.
Even so, neither is the equal of Reforma or Insurgentes in Mexico City,
whose tall warrior and angel make these the only streets you can pray to and walk off
alive to have café in a cantina patronized as well as worked by the young
whores who travel all the way down from Mexicali and up from some town in Chiapas
or anywhere else that has no tourist trade and therefore little need
to buy a young girl with no love of anyone but a yen for money, as little as there is . . .
There is no place to walk in Mexicali or any town in Chiapas . . .

This friend in New Orleans was a woman who did not love men,
but she did like writers who knew how to fuck as well as they knew how to kiss.
Women, that is. Women showed her how. That was after she broke a man’s jaw
because he was praising her tits, he called them, as she walked by, and his companions
grew suddenly quiet. After that came the rainstorm the night she was raped
by a blonde-haired Cuban woman whose name shall never be mentioned here
or anywhere. You can talk about my friend’s doctor, who told her secrets
she said only dead dykes knew, and that word was like niggers in Havana
or Oakland, a word okay to know but to use only if you were someone
for whom writing this is going too far, so I take it back, set it on fire, watch it burn . . .

Penny told me everything. She was strong like a man, her lover said.
Penny told me how they saw one another exclusively, her friends always dressed
like men if that was okay with her and others like her, who wanted to be women
in the same room. Penny went to bed with me when we met and we did nothing but sleep.
I will never forget reading from Molly Bloom’s soliloquy and climbing on her
to see how long I could stay hard between the thighs she opened very cautiously,
and that was Seattle where rain was drizzle more than storm. I got up and finished
alone in the bathroom, where Jacqui loved to fellate me, she called it, when she drove up
from Portland for a weekend, but those days were my own, not like other nights
I asked Cathleen to do the same. But I should stop talking about what actually happened

and return to fiction. There are too many risks when you talk about real people,
they come back to haunt you if they’re already dead, or if they are still living
they let someone else do the talking, even if it is another side of their lives,
the one you had the indiscretion to mention and might as well buy love
and talk all you want, endlessly if need be, forever if there is a price
on eternity. Fiction is easier to imagine. You have your own life
to relive and if you couldn’t spell or read your own writing
you would be fucked, but not by the comely companion
of your dreams. Besides, there’s more than fucking
to render, a word a teacher said instead of write.

. . . yet words are too lonely to love very long.

(10 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander