Thursday, June 30, 2011

Map Dot Fingerprint Dystrophy

Wake when you hear the door open
and her sobbing, frightened she is
about to lose her sight, my love
grateful for her friend’s arrival,
the beautiful nurse her own lost daughter,
here to drive her to the doctor
after the torture of the sleepless day,
the sleepless night, agony of shut brows,
after the doctor told her she would heal:
You had your cornea cut this morning
to remove the cataract, it's normal–
I can’t see! she cried on the cordless phone
and was admonished to give the eye time
to heal, get some rest . . . She falls over books
that are everywhere. If I fell she would
help me find my feet. We do not age well.

I know now I can do nothing
without her. Is it as though Jocasta
fell blind to see her son sharing her bed
after killing his father with the Sphinx
on the goat path? I know nothing that heals.
If I know stories that are evidence
of what I do if I have luck,
I can imitate Oedipus
and she in her black negligee,
her nails painted red, her olive skin
having loved many men, now mine alone
praying she will be spared until she sees
what it will be to grow old on this earth.
When her eyes won’t weep she breaks into sobs,
led through the door into cool air
by our friend whose touch heals and guides her home.

(30 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Come down.
To the earth’s core.
Men worked there, still do.
It is all a father with children knew.
Slag heaps piled, deep pits, wide crevasses
the eyes perceive, breathing from the knees up.

There are the spidery lines in the web of one hand.
Next are the pleasures bounded by a life span.
There is no need to talk about any of this
except to offer gratitude for survival.
I who am about to go underground
to know better the world’s surface.

We went down,
one lay beside the other,
his wand sliding into the core
of love’s magic between her thighs.
If they 
were happy, why were they sad?
Who would know the eternal if it appeared?

The long silence that follows, breath’s pace
a heart measures with syncopated beat.
Blood flows easily when a body bleeds.
Is it only gravity’s victory over life’s
fragility? If that’s all we survive,
why were the immortals here?

Don’t worry the impossible.
No need to live a long life, delicate
human creature. Live as well as animals
who are hunted and others who find shelter.
There are no wings where the depths rise. Legs
obey the brain’s circuits, seeking a tenuous balance.

(29 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


There’s no point starting what you can’t finish.
Then all the little stories looking back
walk out of frame and beyond the mirror,
going for a stroll while you still have legs.
Little story here, little story there,
all your once upon a times long ago,
all the lovely women, brotherly men
in populous city, wilder country.
If only you knew what you were doing
the stars would realign and you could see
where you are going if you can get there
hobbling or striding, child swinging his legs
over the swimming hole: Throw the kid in
to teach him to swim. Gotta start somewhere.
So the sun’s out, perfect weather to run
if you still had legs, through the thick forest
naked, ground animal who would be bird
or bear, anything not to be yourself
as long as choices exist to be made.
That’s not even a story, but the truth:
a man becomes a deer and shits at dawn
by the road he has been walking for hours
looking for the apogee of Lobo
Mountain, looking out over the valley
without a mask, following the lightning
piercing thunder, the rain beginning to walk . . .
How can you know where you never were?
There is one who can tell you who you were
to her. She walked naked among the horses.
Breasts swaying. Gypsy beauty. Your woman.

(28 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


Monday, June 27, 2011

Eggs with Fog

No rain today. No sun breaks through the fog.
He makes a breakfast of toast and jelly,
soft boiled eggs. Then he writes at the table
of Cathleen’s mother throwing baby chicks
into the furnace. Her father brought them
home for his daughter, who kept him with her
once her mother agreed to give her birth.
Her mother taught school. She knew what was right
for her little girl: piano, ballet,
art as long as she was designing clothes
but not if no one could understand it
or if it reproduced what you could see
but couldn’t wear. Cathleen wanted a pet,
her mother said no, her father rebelled.
He was on the road selling tobacco,
as he liked to say with Irish humor,
gone five days a week and home with Cathleen
as long as her mother would let him stay.
Her voice was even, his was sharp, they fought.
Once she was through with her ant circuses,
she wanted animals, those who gave birth,
she did not say but prayed to St. Therese
that she be given lives she could care for,
creatures that grew in a womb to be born
like her, like her father, her mother too.
One day she returned home from school. She looked
everywhere. They were nowhere to be found.
She asked her mother what happened to them.
Her mother matter-of-factly confessed
she picked them up, opened the furnace door
and that was that, something she always said
to end discussion. So much for chickens
to grow up beside her, she went with boys
into the dark and she liked what they did
with her, they made her feel good. They gave her
raison d’etre before she knew what the word
meant in English. She did her useless art
and found her detailed view of ancient Rome
as seen from the crest of the seventh hill
destroyed one morning she found it missing:
her art teacher said one of her classmates
covered the paper with acid, and Rome
died in her heart. She worked hard, made good grades,
B’d only algebra, won second place,
warmed the audience for Mr. Straight-A
who scholarship’d to Stanford. Her mother
said the local college was good enough
for Cathleen. Her father said no. They fought.
Her father won, told Juan, in Seattle,
she got everything she wanted. Money
from her beloved Daddy, she called him,
husband of the woman she called Mommy,
though he said to Juan only that the man
she married would be following his act.
Act  was the word he used. In Hollywood
he worked as a stand-in for Clark Gable.
Cathleen’s girlfriends swooned when they saw Daddy.
At her whim Mommy drove her friends away.
Before she was born her father threatened
to return south and get his old job back,
the year 1941 had begun,
only the Nazis were loose on the earth,
and he was in the car, motor running,
when she came to the window and looked in
and said, All right, I will give you a child.
The fog burned off. He could go on to write
again of their meeting in Seattle,
their clandestine dates, her steady boyfriend
his roommate in their Green Lake apartment.
Then he rented the Lake Union houseboat
where she slept with him as much as she could,
her mother refusing to sign papers
that would allow her to live off campus,
her father impotent to take her side.
Juan and Cathleen were very happy then.
She was not spoiled but brutalized by one
who took up with a city cop who drank
with her in his patrol car and with whom
she fucked at least once before midnight tolled
and she went home to get a little sleep,
Cathleen and her father in their dreamlands.
Later she took Cathleen to the state-line
honky-tonks where they both danced with strangers
and she showed her daughter, by example,
what to do when a man wanted to come
home with her, learning her mother’s magic.

(27 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, June 26, 2011

From His San Francisco Sanctuary, Juan Ponders Her Three Chicago Tattoos

She bares her skin above her breasts
by pulling her blouse open with both hands
and smiles, her gamine blush meeting the dare
the photographer does not win, ever:
ouroborous, heart’s fire, bear claw tattoos
and where else are we to go to ink skin
that will not run when passion’s arc is high
enough to bring you down to earth and melt.

It is her hands that lure me most of all,
the bone and sinew of the working class . . .
all her life making and preserving life
is hard but worth it keeping death at bay,
scrape and shouldering of the constant load
that weighs her down and her heart pulls her up
to front the facts, see all for what they are
in here, out there, wherever they appear.

She is my friend, this photograph I love
of one I may never touch, but I will
with these eyes, they are so blessed with beauty
before me, behind me, under me, over me.
I take this song from the church and Night Chant
Navajos say. I take her to my heart,
I fire the skin of the body’s passion
and feel it burn until the flame roars high.

And when I rest, ashes and bones urn bound,
and having swallowed my beginning with my end
between the Mississippi and the Pacific,
while you drowse above the Hudson
and do not know where I have gone, I am
become devil in my need to find God
to tell Him to His face what infamy
His name engenders in death’s history.

I will cover the reach of the long grass
and touch you sleeping, dreaming of the flow
and its sound, and do not want to wake you
but wait for your words to reach me someday
wherever we are by then, and the storm
in full dudgeon, my bowl of a city
under attack from the hurricane gulf,
and I dwelling in this white city by the sea.

(26 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Archaeologists of Cities

The man who enters the street nears his end.
All his life he has loathed the living dead.
The flame inside him will die now. He falls.
Odd, he dreams, you will die in a city
when all of youth was lived in the country.
To listen to his soul, its love-language
whose words welled and burst like a glad flower,
he walked so many miles he could not count.
The lithe brown-skinned girl with mole on one cheek
found him when he came down off the mountain.
She taught him to ride her as he had learned
to swing one leg, not the other, over
the back of a beast when he was little,
only she knew so many ways to ride
for the first time but said she did not know
what she was doing any more than he . . .
Irene. He would leave her in the country
and walk the city when he was awake
stopping only to start conversations
he heard listening never talking save
to lead the other back to the water,
the blue air of the Pacific Ocean
Sound filling the eye as it glides over
ruins that are all of America
he would need to know, and men and women
told him their stories because he listened.
The gypsy girl lived with him on water
called Lake Union. She was more beautiful
than he deserved, he knew and loved her
with what he knew which was not what he learned,
and water here rocked the boat under them.
She would leave for another city then.
San Francisco, New York, Boston before
the one in the middle of a desert,
where he carried what Seattle taught him
and she read what he wrote on the sere page.
She did not need water, she had beauty
to spare. Men took her away and she stayed
until she said she began to miss him,
his words but also his body, the way
his flesh seemed to ripple under her tongue.
Her whole face lighted up when their eyes met.
She said she was afraid of him, his old
soul, he said nothing, he did not know what
she meant, he would take her to bed in lieu
of questions, after all, the war was near
and his life would end soon, she said nothing
and pulled his wand between her magic thighs.
Later, he did not remember cities,
only Irene gone when he returned home.
It would be his son, the curious one
who walked like a cat, who found her and loved
all she had left. She told him his father
may be dead, his son was alive in her . . .
But this was so much later in the lives
of the archaeologists of cities.

(25 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, June 24, 2011

Amor fati

A street full of duplicate souls
is straining to rise above their comfort
to make a place for those without a home,
who are weary of their cardboard boxes
and willy-nilly clothing, blankets, floors
to be padded the street is so hard.

Pain shoots through an injured toe. The eye finds
the walking wounded freed of future wars.
Legs of steel, arms gone, others wheelchair bound.
You have no complaints. Let pain have its way,
you could take it at thirty, why not now
in your elder years, death that much closer.

Here I am where part of me is not . . .
Could be driving or flying far away.
Tried to tell me last night and I was gone.
No pity, cranky depths, you have a home,
you will have an urn, your wife will see to that.
After so many years, all that is left . . .

I could climb five flights, then, in record time.
I wrote only what I knew . . . not enough.
I said to myself, If I were born here
Lady Luck would look like Irish Cathleen:
She would stay awake to hear the streets swept,
and young, would drive her bright red car downtown.

Here I dwell inside with cats, dogs out there
waiting for the door to open or close.
I was always one to live with earth’s scars.
Hot sun after rain. Full moon up all night.
You have work to do and she lets you be,
your beloved. Half a century gone

since our fate was sealed. Did we love enough
to die happy? The man goes first. Woman,
this one, has been happy from the first day,
but I could not replace her dead father.
Amor fati, we love so much we love
our death. A horse is beaten in the street.

(24 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Trouble enough trims my sails, drops anchor.
The wind’s up, would you like to go with me,
love, where we can fill the god’s hands,
the little one with the big heart–
he, or she, keeps us safe, keeps us sailing
but not on water, that’s mirage.
Wife screams, silence deafens, who is this now
knocking on my own heart’s door? A circle
never bending unless it breaks, pieces
of entirely personal history
flying everywhere.

We settled nowhere we would not feel want,
our bodies welded, our breath coming slow,
for this was no boat, you were not my wife.
You my lover, I yours, we the god’s own.
God that cries out with our passionate cry
of completion. Storms blow up, but die down.
It is the big god with the same size heart
as I, as you, though your body is small.
You fit all my life inside your large soul
where sleep arrives with all its ritual
dangling rings from earlobes, all the sacred
places of the body we prove exists
between our own, where the dark gives off light.

Now kiss my flesh, let me feel your river.
A lake is more than ocean, it’s too small
not to have borders, to spurn horizons.
Would you love me if I am atavist
with claws and fangs and grunt when I skulk off
to look for fresh meat to bring back to you . . .

(23 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


D. G.

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

(23 June 2011)
In Seattle it takes too long to walk in the dark
from the Paisano alley to the party with red
streamers you see in the dark, but too much
time expires, the door closes, window shuts
on the crippled fingers of Doug Harper.
He wanted to be named "D. G." and asked
this ax man to teach him sax in the pen
where he was then. We passed the jug.
Our friend recited his Van Gogh poem,
"The bowl of the sky turned upside down,"
and Doug chuckled, adding, I never did
learn how. Man was in trouble and got iced
next thing. I wanted to go to Paris
when I got out, that’s where the best music
gives the French what they love and give it back.
Here I am, I can’t wrap any fingers
around a horn, they’re shriveled like my arm,
I should learn to play a one-hand ax,
make it sound the best since Sidney Bechet’s
soprano sax. I stay home now. D. G.’s
records keep me in thrall, baby. You got
a smoke? That’ll do. Let me have the jug,
that sky must have turned right side up by now.
Inside, women were leaning on bodies
men acted like they owned. Doug said, Look there!
smiling, pointing at a bright red wall: man
and woman dancing making one body.
All poetry quiet under the wall.
If you smelled the air how could you help it?
Harper chose the next, undanceable song:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where Is Home?

Humans can never know it all.
Not even with ju-ju, gris-gris . . .
I hoped Adore was wrong. She was not old,
at least not for me, but what did I know
that my body did not eagerly learn?
I hated leaving her. I was in love
with Adore, who was twice my age.
I was afraid I had waited too long
and now she would die before I told her.
But why would she care? She knew already.
Words from my lips were still kisses,
and as she said that, she pulled me to her.

The flight back, the cab into the city.
Cathleen was gone, her partner said,
loose ends to tie with her Paris design:
They paid her way just for her approval.
So she drove me to California Street.
I let myself in, two keys on the ring,
one for the Morgan. In Lagunitas
I checked on the house and my Ford Falcon.
If I sold it I thought I could be through
with the highway south and east to get here
and no temptation, should Adore, alive
still, ask me to come home to be with her . . .

That was not like her, she would never ask . . .
Just the same, randy tonight, I drove out
to Bolinas. No one knew me down there
and if I found a woman I could fuck
I would bring her all the way back to fuck,
we could stay in Lagunitas and fuck
until Cathleen called to say she was home.
Once I arrived, got acquainted with one
woman well enough to invite back home,
I lost my nerve. I would be too weary
to please both of us in such a short time
that would likely be interrupted then

by the phone which left us too little time,
even if we scurried, to get her home
and I knew only the long way around
by the Point Reyes station, down the coast road
and back before the phone would ring again
and she’d ask what was taking me so long . . .
So I drove through Bolinas and tracked back
to Sausalito, and Betty was home.
She walked to the Trident to have a drink,
told me she was spending tonight alone
and if I wanted we could walk back up
the hill and fuck all night and half the day . . .

(22 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Of Eleni Rallis and Adore

Roberto and Lilli took me out to Antoine’s.
They were living well, Roberto confessed.
He said nothing about his cancer,
nor did I ask. Lelli talked about Greece
and how New Orleans had surprised her.
She called it the ruins of the United States.
She seemed not to have aged at all,
her dark eyes were still veiled by long lashes,
as always she pranced when she walked, her step
like dancing, preparing for a partner
to put his arms around her and hold her
as once I had been privileged to do.
Roberto was her great love. He kissed her
and caressed her openly, held her close.

Eleni Rallis–that was her real name–
always talked of poetry more than things
of this world. In Rome she walked up the steps--
the Spanish steps–his name "writ on water"
over his grave where his Cockney father
kept a stable, and she loved his poems
so much she memorized, among others,
the Odes, To Autumn, those so brief they sang
"When I have fears that I may cease to be,"
and the one to Cortez when Balboa
was he who stood on the edge of the sea
seen for the first time. I remembered her
beauty easily by looking at her,
and I thought of Adore, my ageless love.

When we left Antoine’s I bid them adieu,
I would come by the saloon tomorrow
to meet the man Roberto had chosen
to take his place once his cancer killed him.
Since I’d arrived cancer had not come up.
Lelli kissed me and Roberto gave me
un fuerte abrazo. Adore was in
and held the covers while I came to bed.
We slept late and in the morning she said,
I am going to die soon, darling Juan.
I wanted to weep but held it inside.
She said she would be well taken care of
by the loas and Mr. Questionmark.
She said, I wonder, sweet man, is this our last time?

I left without knowing how she knew she would die.
I presumed she knew as old as she was
what fortunes remained in her body’s light,
hovering blue between river and lake.
She so loved this city she would die here
with happiness and gratitude etched deep
in her soft lips, all over her body
that I never wanted to stop touching,
entering her welcoming thighs, loving
with all she would take that I could give her.
Before I flew back to California,
I came around again. She was happy
I had. She said this would be our last time.
I asked how she knew. She said, I don’t know.

(21 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


Monday, June 20, 2011

Body and Soul

"Love involves a peculiar unfathomable combination of understanding
and misunderstanding."
–Diane Arbus

I cannot imagine living long
without women in my life.
I do not know what that makes me
in the parlance of the day,
nor does my soul care
as much as my body.
The rules are like flags without wind.
You see them but they fly without you.
They belong to some other country.

I refuse to tell women what men say
when the sky clouds over.
Some tell me what they think I feel,
others choose to map my heart’s
direction. I know only
I cannot help but comply
with what the body desires
which my soul believes
is necessary.

Let the rules be frayed,
rip apart in winter, fly off
shredded into the March distance.
Only women have love to give me
and I take and give love back
and it does not matter if it is a city
or these woods, though I prefer the city.
There are so many mysteries,
turn a corner and in the mind's eye see,

in her words, "a secret about a secret.
The more it tells you the less you know."
As for where I am now,
remembering–and it is warm–
I try to understand Turgenev:
"The heart of another is a dark forest."

In these woods all the coronas

of your beauty light the dark.
If I have failed all of you,
this is no mea culpa, only a pact with you:

I know no other way but to love you
for whom you were and are.

(20 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Poem with Response

no mas que mio
do you dry tears
in the open air
of what is called a city
though it seems more
a world to me

sorrow may line your heart’s
ventricles and its atrium
stay open late at night
to get you home
on the last train
that stops before my station

how did you say
"my heart is full of sorrow"?
I looked it up,
all the words were there,
all I needed was to hear
you say them the way you know

mi corazon esta llena de tristeza

on this island once wild
as me pursuing you
long before las ropas
and other accoutrement
of the look-alike life

if I take this ride as far
as where you are standing now,
as though I knew,
I will find you,
and after you and me
no more sorrow

(19 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Adore: Nueva Luz, Amor, Vida

Sky full of stars you can’t see with the day
flourishing its green night-light walking stick,
swollen agony with each step taken
along the river that ends faraway
from here, stone bench or Adirondack chair:
If I were the mountain goat in my dreams
of zodiac birthday flesh, come year's end
it will have been thirty around the trees
since the screams were silenced then forgotten
together in sleep near enough to touch.

Hobble downtown and back. Stay on the grass.
I wish I could kiss you and feel your breasts
against me and you could feel me in turn.
Will we ever? How many years remain?
I don’t know the Big Dipper, Milky Way,
or Orion from your biography.
You are my single exception to life
always having reasons, no matter what
sleep says, waking throws up before the fall,
the cushion of grass, the root-sod of thought.

You know very well where I will go next.
She still sleeps at midday in her back room.
She comes to the door in lace kimono.
She smiles and you know where I go with her.
She prepares a body gently and slakes
her fill, giving always more than she takes.
I say I no longer have the horses
arriving on shore in the salt sea spray,
their hooves leaving no evidence in sand
that here, Adore, is Mississippi mud.

And what happened to your hunchback lover
whose cock like his back curved a questionmark?
Are you that much closer to your own death,
darling mother-lover of mine, Adore
named for the way a family loved you,
a kind of father-son menage a trois
whose sire sleeps underground. You were his best
reason to live. I heard you call, Come back,
your dark body all the light I could see . . .
If you love me I don’t want to be home.

(18 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Walk across the Street

They told me where she was, I went there to see her.
She had the proverbial pennies on her eyes.
I thought more than said: Mother, I thought you were gone.
Look how my skin is drenched with the brine from your skin.
I had not come for this, Lelli was here.
She once taught me to say agape "how hoppie"
Born in the Peloponnese, Athens now her home,
and here to love her old friend Roberto
but not to marry, she said, I was married once,
Eleni Rallis, years older now, had the smile
that went with her gritty voice and her creamy skin,
stripped to fuck, she would say, and how naughty I am
to be a poet’s wench when my husband’s asleep . . .
So her husband married the English girl.
They produced children, they burned the air between them,
the smoke smell would be with them from now on.
You had your chance, why didn’t you give her a child?
We were too ecclesiastical to bear fruit.
Seeing my dead mother in her coffin
wrapped in seaweed, coming apart at the edges,
between the seams and where the fish were schooled,
Lelli held my hand all through the tumescent dream
that soon enough would fall to one side, spent.

I had a drink with Roberto at The Saloon.
I met the man he had hired to help him run things.
His wife was working tables. Roberto’s cancer
had metastasized to cut his life shorter than
a walk across the street. We shared another drink
with lunch at the Absinthe House. He would die
in less than a year, the doctor said, or sooner . . .
Roberto said that wasn’t all he knew:
Eleni Rallis, with her Delphic Oracle
running in her veins and through her dark eyes,
into the feel of her skin pressed against my skin,
but that was in the dream the phone call woke me from:
Leila was calling from the Bronx, she had my voice
in her head and she was trying to forget me,
it wasn’t easy, she would have to start over,
so why not now? How did you know I was down here?
Don’t you remember my mother was Sephardi . . .

(17 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thirty Lines for the Beloved

I’m going to bed when you wake up.
The room is full of light in summer,
all white when the winter’s here to stay
six if not seven months. I go south
in my head. I know women there who drawl.
A hook of the thumb and her skirt falls.
At night we fucked in front of the church.
Cars went by at their usual rate of speed.
We loved to go as long as we could
without coming, me anyway . . .

I asked for your p. o. mail addresses
in Washington Heights and Riverdale,
and you must have loved me then,
your voice rose and floated through the air
to me and I caught the sound of your lips
with a determined kiss. I meant to be
the man you could not do without.
What did I know about your heart, your soul?
So little so far I haven’t written.
I flail in the dark, I want to touch you.

As it is, there is nothing to be done.
My life is grinding down, sweet love,
and yours is picking up speed, on your way
to the admiration you have coming
and along your way the love that looks for you.
Find that park for me, you know where it is
now you’ve loved your body and drowsed
on the grass. If I were there, could we go
inside the mansion, where all our ghosts are,
would you let me lift your skirt to love you?

(16 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Big Abyss

In the elevator Ciro punched the button,
asked him to wait while he delivered the mail
from downstairs. Juan saw him talking behind one hand.
On the way down Juan chattered about his father–
a stranger riding with them looked askance–
how he rode an elevator down to the floor
of the mine, turned on the lamp of his cap,
began working with hammer and chisel,
at the end of twelve hours riding back to the top,
walking home in the dark, taking a bath.
Where Ciro drove him was by the long lake
called Washington. Juan loved the switchback roads
from the Floating Bridge to lakeside along
the way to his bed. Now he had another bed.

She sat on the edge of his bed at first.
She turned on her tape deck. Longhair music,
his family would say, they liked country,
and when she said the name Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
one leg crossed over the other, he could see thigh
where the pantyhose ended and the hive began.
The worker bees would be back. Did she know
how a young man must salve his woe to heal himself?
She was old but had not begun to age.
She was the first red-haired woman he met.
No need to ask why she was there. He knew
her love of this voice lay behind sketches
she showed him before asking him to pose,
helped him forget Irene Castenada.

The song was "Im Abendrot," one of the Four Last
Songs of Richard Strauss. She moved her legs so the dress
rose well above her thighs. Juan remembered
that Irene would reach over now and cup
one hand over what lay between his legs,
waiting for him to grow as tall as she . . .
Red hair told him there were three registers
of the soprano voice–lower, middle, upper . . .
but Schwarzkopf’s voice climbed one level
above, where no coloratura went.
Could you close the door? The blonde nurse passed by
and jangled her keys as she locked them in.
She showed him her sketch, its circles and lines.
She wanted to draw the rest of him now.

Through the window, beyond its cross-hatched wire
screen he saw the football stadium, then the lake.
Come 1973, death merchants
plied their wares in the Santiago stadium,
the day Chile’s achievement was destroyed,
. . . Salvador Allende knew what it meant
to give the poor their portion of riches.
Twenty years later the kid who wrote songs
under an Aberdeen bridge before now
that his wife and their only child were gone
–well, Kurt Cobain shot himself in his head.
Reba, who disliked her name Rebecca,
kept her own clothes on. After hospital
she said he should visit her on Queen Anne.

Who doubts that he did? He found her address.
She lived alone after her mother’s death,
one divorce was enough, marriage a sham,
this night would be briefer than all his nights
walking the long streets and riding the bus
down there and back, how he loved Seattle!
She put on Schwarzkopf, then Jessye Norman.
Their voices filled the walls, her body too
restless with his after such a long sleep
between youth and age, like a mother fucked
in Thebes, but he was no Oedipal ghost,
she laughed. Working as archaeologist
in this Pacific ruin, he needed love,
she loved to free him from the big abyss.

(15 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Art's Anathema


A little rain but not much, mostly fog.

A day to work. Get on your knees and pray.

Lelli calls from New Orleans. Robert
proposed, she said no, one marriage plenty.
Eleni Rallis never forgives you,
does she? Laughter, maybe holding back tears.
What now? Can I come visit? No, not now.
Why not? O yes, Cathleen. It’s not Cathleen,
I try to work every day and I fail
to find the words that may make me happy . . .

then call Roberto to ask him what’s what.
Says, Nothing I couldn’t see already.
He’s upbeat, he doesn’t bother to mourn,
nor has he given up. Must go to work.
Tells me he’s hired a guy to split the time.
Because of Lelli? Hell no, John, it’s me,
I have cancer. If you want, I’ll write you.
Robert always preferred to write letters.


I got to New York too late. She was dead
by her own hand, her cameras’ eyes knives.
Pills were strewn like white blood cells, everywhere.
Cops entered her dark room, white coats came next.
Prints hung from clothes pins: the Untitled book
years away from view. I heard the stories
from the Village all the way to Amherst.
There would be a book soon, all her own
via dolorosa without the scars,
she was more kind to love than to herself.

I wrote The Illusion of Happiness.
It was O’Hara gave me the title.
That was a year or so after her death.
A book from MOMA was out with her name
its title. There were the overexposed
debutantes, for whom balling was dancing.
Mostly, though, there were the damned of this world.
She was always leaving herself behind.


So of course I wanted to fuck Judy
Ewing just to know we were both alive
and the better for knowing each other,
the river below noisier for now,
rain tattooing water that turns up white
and the cry of peacocks is an image
in a poem by a late insurance
executive in Hartford who got drunk
in Sloppy Joe’s in Key West and he fought
but lost, and sailed down to Tehuantepec
where the tall beauties smiled but kept walking
toward what there was to be done in a day.

Judy didn’t know what to think. Hubbard
her last chance at respectability?
Marry him, then. No, he’s too old for me.
I made reservations for New Orleans.
This time would I also be in the plane?
What would Ira McAlexander say?


The year she made her name, surprising all
who had souls to go with the crowd’s radar,
Juan Flores was in Mexico City
planning his first journey to Havana.
She had four years left. I never made it
to Cuba. These States, as Whitman called them,
liked to pinpoint your travels, which made you
choke and weep with dry throat and burning eyes.

That was the easy year, Juan, why go home?
Tet, Prague, Tlatelolco–that was why
Diane Arbus photographed silhouettes
at twilight in a line on the far hill
protesting war no one believed would end
without providing a template for one
to follow, endlessly. Wash down the pills.
Carve with razor blade: Art’s Anathema.

(14 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, June 13, 2011

Of Youth and Staying Put

I didn’t go anywhere. The plane left.
I was not late.

Is south of San Francisco SFX?
It’s not L.A. Hell.

I kept the date with Cathleen.
We had dinner in Li Po’s, Chinatown.

Out to the Surf Theatre then.
The young reading Jung on the cable car;

on the streetcar to the beach, Nijinsky’s
unexpurgated diary . . .

Was Aguirre, Wrath of God on screen first
or Last Tango in Paris . . . noble shit:

Brando asking Maria for butter,
Klaus Kinski’s madness among the monkeys.

On the way back to the store
I pondered Shakespeare, the Marquis de Sade.

Cathleen drove her Morgan home, my Ford parked.
Sunday morning she served hash and eggs.

Walking in Golden Gate Park,
a boy came up to us and went pow, pow!

I thought of Diane Arbus,
her small body, the kid in Central Park

in shorts and knee-high socks, walking point
and making violent faces.

Only youth had such imagination.
Back on California Street

the cockatoo in the neighbor’s backyard
cried out to be free to fly.

I thought then of Judy Ewing’s peacocks.
In New York are there cockatoos, peacocks?

We talked all the way around the circle
our walk inscribed:

If not Lear, whom? Macbeth? Hamlet’s
father proving even ghosts went insane?

Aguirre, of course, was one of a kind.
The movie only seemed Shakespearean.

As for Sade, Angela Carter
was always indispensable:

She could be Maria and Brando Sade.
We laughed a lot when we walked here.

Cathleen needed sleep to work tomorrow.
I should be home working and not talking.

(13 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Reading Milton on the Go

Me O my, the scene shifts from Paradise
to Pandemonium, just a flicker
away from extinction, oblivion
pending. The sun will shine before we go
into nuclear winter. Country boy
walks inside the heart of your dark forest
with his cell phone. If you call, I will come.
I have to go. I want to die that way,
not that it’s something I look forward to,
nothing more than how to confront the ice
no fire melts. Only our four arms warm us
where bliss ends and the agony begins.
If Paradise is here, in these dense woods,
why is the city Pandemonium?
Love thrives, money gone, revolution where
I wonder how our bodies laced would feel
when fused with ecstasy into one stem
suspending the fruit hanging from a wire-
less tree where what’s left of civilized life
is this: Can you take my call or call me?
Why is God home if Lucifer’s at large . . .

(12 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fear of Death Disturbs Me

I Google Timor mortis conturbat me.
"Will you miss me when I’m gone?"
by the Carter Family on CD . . .
I have disposed of my mirror,
my mask, and kept my fingers
moving. Imagine how the knuckle
knob expands, the knee buckles.
I better hurry, I’ll miss my plane–
call a cab, be on time to fly on out
of Burghville, landing in New York City.
How will I find her? All I have is Mr.
G. G. Carter’s word. My god, this city
draws me as though my heart were magnetized,
even when atrially fibrillating.
How old are those who begin to live
anew, enow, in time to cheat death
momentarily out of its inheritance?
Why do I need to know Irish Mama?
Isn’t it one Irish woman per man?
Better to be with Sephardi Chicana
Maria Teresa Leila Shulamit
bat Rivka, who was walking up two miles
of city streets to find the park
and somewhere to rest "drowsy and sated" . . .
phoning on the way: Haven’t heard your voice . . .
. . . No! Am I ever happy to hear yours . . .
How long, how long do we need to be dead
to be reborn? Fear that I will die soon
wars with the search for my antic, buoyant
final love, whose skin I have not touched yet.
But Irish Mama Anne McConnell now . . .
Are you sure it’s not O’Connell, Adore?
What kind of Irish would McConnell be?
Isn’t it Scots, or was it Ulster
lineage, whose McAlexander
lost its "Mc" before father Abraham
and his three brothers–one condemned–rode out
of Virginia’s Blue Ridge one bright morning.
. . . when horse was how the poor traveled, waiting
for a biplane to fly off Kitty Hawk.

(11 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wilder than Normal

After delivering regards from Madame Peggy,
Sally said little about the old days.
She knew why I was there. Anne McConnell?
She shook her head. She went up and asked
her bartender. He shook his head.
She chatted him up a moment. Quick style
for an elder, older than my mother . . .
Said, He knows the names of the blues singers
in New York. Says she must be known
only by Gothamites. I hadn’t heard
that word in years, maybe not since Batman.
I smiled, she smiled, I said I loved her place.
She said, I remembered you, you’re married
to that black Irish beauty. Are you still?
No. I thought of Adore. No need to say
more, she flounced more than walked me to the door.
She gave me a kiss on the cheek, I gave
her a kiss full on her mouth. Less makeup
in her lipstick than her powdered, rouged cheek.
She said I should talk to this old black man
in the Fillmore who kept up on such things
since the blues were ageless. His name sounded
like B. B. King. G. G. Carter. I walked
to his address after parking, passing
two hookers and a pimp two blocks away.
The pimp sized me up after I said no
very graciously to the hooker who
asked me if I’d like to go down with her.
And I said, Where’s down? She said, Down on me.
I laughed and smiled at the same time.
That’s when the pimp gave me the once-over.
I always loved life wilder than normal,
Cathleen liked to say, as did Leila
in Chicago. G. G. Carter was home.
I have no idea how old he is.
By now he may be was, that was a week
ago. Cathleen just called to ask me in
to sleep with her tonight. She has her way
of saying. She too wilder than normal.
G. G. Carter said he’d heard the name Anne
McConnell, called herself Irish Mama.

(10 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Doll

It’s hard to imagine now. It took three days to listen,
four days to write it down, or am I putting it down?

When I started feeling how odd it was I hadn’t heard
of Anne McConnell before now, I asked her straight out
why. I don’t remember exactly how she put it. Why
not stick to my own story? Adore replied, then went on
saying most of what I just wrote here during these most
beautiful days of California, days fit for an ornithologist,
of whom I’m unaware save that they study the birds,
which provide plenty of music outside Cathleen’s window
in Lagunitas. Adore was saying she didn’t see any reason
to tell Anne’s story when she was probably still alive
. . . last I heard she was back east, recording the bluest
blues people here say they’ve heard since Etta James.
Ira’s death sent her packing. I never saw her again.
I stayed in this house. I did what I could to be alone.
I went on thinking, remembering Ira, without weeping.
When you’re deep as me in gris-gris, ju-ju, with the loas,
you are never really alone. I had not been alone since
Madame Ju-Ju declared I was now a different woman–
Mama never talked much of the men who called horses
in from the air– . . . I was one more woman they rode.

Usually I went back to HOTEL HOTEL to make notes.
I must’ve been in a daze, I wound up at Tipitina’s,
not far from the bar Rocky tended, farther still from
where Adore met Ira. I asked about Anne McConnell.
The bartender mixed me a soda water with lemon twist
and served it with a photograph. If Billie Holiday had
white skin and Anne wore gardenias this would be her.
He said Anne went to Manhattan, lived in Brooklyn.
After that, he didn’t hear more. She got famous though.
How in hell can she help it? he mused. She is a doll.

That was not long before I left New Orleans. HOTEL
HOTEL was back to being ten neon letters at night.
Ray was dead, following Big John, like you already read.
Adore continued sleeping nightly with Mr. Questionmark.
I left The Saloon in Roosevelt’s hands, and he promised
to stay until I found a way to let him return to Arkansas,
which he did when Roberto came to town to take over.
I called Roosevelt to wish him and his son the best I could
in the way of words. That was always the way it went . . .
Mr. Word Man. I looked at the photo and wondered why
nobody ever said her name before. I would like to have
seen her sing. Heard her at least. I called Jazz Radio,
asked if they had anything by Anne McConnell . . . Who?
At least they asked, I told them who she was, all I knew,
most of which I didn’t say, you know, about the loas
and Adore and Ira, and what I could say wasn’t enough
to put in a thimble. I called San Rafael. They’d heard
her name, but they didn’t stock blues records any more.
I called Sausalito, the Trident. The bartender said, Call
Valhalla. I decided to drive down. I might see Sally . . .

She happened to be there and was happy to see me, said
Sally Stanford, ex-Sausalito mayor, retired San Francisco
madam. She was all painted up as usual. I got my face on,
she reported, only twenty minutes ago. I love to look good.
When I was in the business I insisted my girls all paint
their faces. Some even liked to paint their nipples. All,
of course, were required to paint their nails, fingers
and toes. As the city’s mayor she saw no reason to change.
The Valhalla was designed to recall her good old days.
The waitresses were all painted up. She made sure of that.

(9 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Adore, Anne, and Ira

Reader, you may be thinking Adore and Anne
were having a lesbian affair. Well, who is Juan–
who am I–to ask? Their love life’s their business,
even if New Orleans may as well be another name
for Lesbos, as well as nearly every other town
in estados unidos, Northampton por ejemplo.

When I lived in Northampton Cathleen talked
about the IRA and what should be done about
the bastard Brits. I wrote to ask for employment
in Ulster to be there at the peeling of the orange,
otherwise teaching in the University of Belfast.
This London renegade suggested I see for myself.

He was in Massachusetts to write of Huck Finn’s
politics. In his eyes the falling-down drunkard’s
son was waiting to ride the bullet train out of
Finland straight for Moscow to oust Kerensky.
I never went to Ireland. He thought Russia was
"the territory ahead." I said Huck’s a redneck,

I oughta know, I am one. Still, he wished me luck.
Adore told me Anne had a great blues voice after
learning so quickly yet so long how to host loas.
Being a madame’s son you learned a lot no other
kind of kid ever did. Mama Nell slept with Peggy,
who inherited her brothel: a little like succession.

Adore and Anne shared one problem . . . Ira.
Anne was the first to love him, even before Ira
got the job at the bar whose name remains
its own business, being frequented by habitues
like stevedores, like Ira was, but by few tourists.
Ira learned to love Anne and she loved him . . .

Ira began playing and Anne was still singing
in the bar his first night on the bandstand.
Adore saw him right off and that night began
their love that lasted even longer than Ira,
and when I arrived Adore must have thought
since I was his grand nephew I was a lover

with cojones evolved all the way down the line.
Adore taught me more than any woman could.
Adore, old enough to carry me in her womb.
I asked her once if she knew my mother.
She said, Should I? My people were first
to sell sex, but surely you already know that.

I said, I may know it but I don’t remember.
I look in your eyes, they’re the same color
as mine, I’m even as tall as you, who’d know
we weren’t from the same family, look who
you lived with, may even have married . . .
That’s when I found out Ira was married,

to Anne. That I wanted to know more about,
my mother also Irish. Being a mama was all
she wanted until there was too little money.
She was always a businesswoman, even when
Manuel farmed before the goddam war began.
Where did Anne go once you got sweet on Ira

and he left her and took up with you, or is that
what happened? She said that was long after
Anne learned how to open herself to the loas.
Her heart may have been broken, but she knew
that was no reason to bite the hand helping
make her blues only bluer, deeper than the sky.

She stayed then? No, she went to Tipitina’s.
Anne moved up the line, is still going strong.
Ira might have thought we knew each other,
but never said a word. I thought he stayed
married to her, and he did. Anne told me so
at his grave, weeping before the second line.

(8 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

It's Only Business

For twenty-three years we have lived in a town
whose first family takes the name of Mississippi
for first City. First Shitty would be more apt.

You don’t have the exact dimension of the window
our air conditioner is to set inside, it’s your fault
we had to make a trip out to the truck to get
a board to shim up the space in which we discover
it must reside, even though your worker said,
That’s OK when I offered to pay for their trouble
and waved away the hand I held out. Two weeks
passed before he came again to try to get rid
of the vibration that kept us awake upstairs
and downstairs. But that was another half a C
for that trip, once it happened, and the worker
said, There’s nothing I can do, giving us reason
to believe our two hundred dollar air conditioner
plus fifty dollar installation fee would be refunded
only to learn this morning the owner of Naylor
Electric, King Rob–we never say Robert if our
family is first in line to fully own this town
should the Mississippi overflow its banks, for
he will be the first who sends his bill to the gods.

The phone finds its cradle, but not before
being told we shall be charged for only one trip.
We, however, never record our conversations!

And I am the impotent one! I, the customer who
in olden days was "always right." Naylor is he
who swims among the minions who always say
what their country club first family neighbors
pronounce to be the rule of the day here on out.
I watch Obama flailing to keep from drowning
in Bush’s lingering debt hanging over a nation
waiting to be robbed by the next Republican
who ascends to the presidency to take the rest
of what the poor, the old, the desperate young
once could draw from because they owned
a franchise in their future as well as the day
everyone will own an air conditioner in Hell.

8 June 2011

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Irish Mama Anne McConnell

She curled her blonde hair. Rumplestiltskin spinning straw
could not see her fingers making circles that stayed,
and when they would go, went where the loas could reach.
They saw she had beauty to spare, blonde became red
with a tint here, there, invisible in the dark
whose only light bathed her in a glow when she sang
where Ira played. Adore met her where she first saw
her man with the horn, Ira, come all the way here
from Virginia as though he were looking for her
to love him, Adore the only name he would hear
as the crescendo followed the beat building high.
Adore took Anne to her shotgun house when Ira
was gone. In the back room Adore opened the door
to the alley where the loas entered, she knew
the breeze wafting her hair . . . none know who have not moved
among them. Adore gave Anne secrets she could spare
and some she did not know she knew. The whole word hive,
candles guttering in the dark, back door shut tight,
the skin’s sleekness soothed with woman’s satiny sweat
aroused by the horses entering her, inside
moving like a miracle with hooves or a man
riding bareback without a saddle
when he came in, on in, the mirage of music
a frayed sound wet and stretching toward the light. Anne laughed
once time began again. Am I some Rapunzel
who can’t choose between blonde and red hair?
Again and again, and again Adore led her
to that room until Anne could let the horses ride
inside her, until the moon seemed to shine through walls.
So many times the two women convened, no need
to count. Each time there was food only hunger needs.
More than a man can give a woman. The loas
know more than men how to get what they want.

Then the animals. They were hers and she was theirs.
First there were opossum, cotton mouths too . . .
Then the deer and bear she dreamed became the most real . . .
another brush with disbelief, this time waking
somewhere Adore taught her to know when Anne would ask,
a question answered with a song, not Careless Love,
more like St. James Infirmary, though the intro
might never reach the place where the coda began.
Besides, down here you don’t sing like they do up there.
Possum hang from trees by their tails, the cotton mouths
drink swamp water before they are disturbed and strike . . .
The animals were not in the songs but they purred
and growled, like men and women: Adore, then Ira.
Pretty soon Adore said, Irish Mama, you know
what you need to coax the horses back through the door,
the horses know more than you will ever know now,
more than I could even imagine . . . Adore loved
the animals too. They were also hers, she theirs.
Irish Mama was born in this city, but bathed
by her true mother, she from whose womb she emerged . . .
The loas visited them one at a time. Anne laughed
when she woke. Adore asked how she was. From now on,
Anne told Adore, she would be a red glow on nights
she waited for the man to fill her hunger.
Red hair, she said, never fails a man’s appetite.
And you can’t feel "sated and drowsy" if the man
doesn’t. Her pussy cat was orange, her tom deep red.
She lived in the Garden District, a home bequeathed
to her, the sole survivor. She sang for pleasure.
She fucked for pleasure. And soon she knew
she now understood what life, her life, was for.

                                                                                  again, for Maria Teresa
 (7 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, June 6, 2011

Adore, Madame Ju-Ju, and Irish Mama

There were several ways of learning from Madame Ju-Ju–
you could stay with her night and day, go around with her,
come by for appointments to watch how she did her work,
take her place wearing a mask pretending you were her . . .
Adore did what you imagine, she asked Madame Ju-Ju over.
Mothers, womb weary or huerfana’s madre, don’t hesitate,
Madame Ju-Ju went to Adore’s little house and slept there
as long as it took for Adore to learn what she had to teach,
starting with the fingers, then the eyes, finally going afoot.
Between the hands and feet the eyes mastered the body.
You can’t see what’s inside if you don’t start from outside.
That made sense. Adore went all the way back to the start,
long before the little house and bird, way back to Africa,
she called it, feeling that way because she knew the music.
Madame Ju-Ju said she oughta go to Haiti to learn more.
Adore said I can’t swim that far, Mama. No, daughter,
I couldn’t either. Now stop the jokes and pay attention.
Adore would watch and then do what she’d seen done.
She said to Ira once, I can’t tell you anything you knew
already among those haints and hollows, the old women
with owl breath, eyes like a panther, know what I mean?
How did you know? he asked, she said she didn’t know:
I know you. And she did. Madame Ju-Ju was a long time
before Ira. Adore couldn’t know a lover from a fancy man
if not for Mama. Playing a horn like he did was the first
sign. You hang a chicken foot on the door and wait . . .
Among the men were the pimps of New Orleans, who fled
for their lives. You ask to sell my body, don’t expect to live.
Then the dope pushers, they were the easiest of all to feint
and get past, nor were the rich ones of any account at all.
They were all men and no more. Women came to her
for hidden things, all the true joys of women were under
the skin, only the loas could reach places not even a body
could touch.

                              Adore had a friend with a wild Irish look
in her eyes. She liked to talk about what was real and what
was not. It all depends, Anne said, on what people want
to believe. When she was a girl, she talked to leprechauns,
but when she became a woman she knew she was talking
to herself. Now she believed nothing she could not swear
she’d lived with all the five senses spinning straw into one
tapestry she liked to call Memory. Adore tried her gris-gris
on Anne but no loa could reach what Anne knew was there.
She adored Adore. They went to drink at Tipitina’s, where
the music was all there was to hear if you didn’t come
prepared for conversation. Anne said, There were others,
so many others. If a story doesn’t fit your own experience
how would you know it’s so crazy you can’t make it up?
The unbelievable reality is what’s always true, Anne said.
Adore liked to call Anne Irish Mama. She said, Irish Mama,
there are women all over the South who grow up to be
the only sane ones in their families. You could be one,
you go downtown and what you thought you were after
was never what you found. You went ahead and did
what you felt like doing, you get so far out of your head
you never know what happened after. Irish Mama,
you have no kids, no man. Why not get to know the loas?
Anne asked if anyone could. Adore said, No, but you
will never know if you don’t try again and keep trying.
Irish Mama let Adore have her way. It turned out the way
they knew it would. It took so long it was unbelievable.

(6 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In Fairfax

What is the mask to wear today?
What would the peacock’s flowering tail say?

I am going back into town,
As you know, my time is my own.

All the stars were so bright last night
The city lights were not in sight.

I wake with nothing I can say
that will illuminate the day.

The Ford Falcon’s on its last legs,
a chicken that’s laid its last egg.

Or a peacock wearing the mask
to take over the poet’s task.

In town all the usual moves
checked off, I go to the movies.

Years past there was Gimme Shelter
I chose over Helter Skelter.

A stunned Mick Jagger watched the films
of what he’d done, where he came from

to this, the time had come to play
a deeper, lasting melody

that would put an end to senseless
destruction. Call it Wild Horses,

 Aphrodite watching a tape
of Dionysus eating grapes.

The ear knows more than the eye sees
when what you hear is what you see.

(5 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Before or after Thunder

No one is so determined as lovers.
There need be no other body,
though it helps when a body’s young.
Iron will is a function of future
events: nothing possible
that’s not dreamed.

She said, "Believe it or not,
my life's based on a true story."
Though I believed her, she stayed
her tongue, save to speak to me
in original riddles.
She knows what she wants . . .

She knows what she’s had.
I was riding my horse alone
to Mexico. I packed enough
to last a year, maybe two.
Why do I stop along the way,
thinking of what I do not have?

My horse is not unhappy,
even if no other horses
travel this way.
We are headed for the village
where the women are lush
inside, blossoming all over.

Now I know only
a storm is next or the one to follow.
Plant wildflowers
to drink rain.
Rake over the seeds
so they can root.

You said there would always be
your true life, story or no.
You didn’t insist, I asked.
" Believe it or not"
gave me pause. I knew nothing . . .
How could I deny anything?

In Mexico there is always a language
I may never comprehend
let alone speak.
I will write the words
on paper, carve the letters in the dust.
There is nothing I cannot fathom.

It’s the body that worries me.
What can I do to satisfy
what was given me?
It is not my own. It can never live
alone now I know
I miss her soul.

We slide into our caves.
We sleep alone.
Nothing remains to be done
but this. Watch the way words
make a life come true.
There, I’ve said what else I know.

Mine was always the way
you must put dreams
before waking.
That way, sleep comes.
You can’t imagine one body
living without the other.

In Tehuantepec, women
run things. You have to be able
to love women to live there.
There are so few men
I may find a place of my own.
Then I can begin . . .

                                                            for Maria Teresa
(4 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Floor's Not Moving

Nor is the door opening.
The windows closed,
A hum behind the walls
sounds like fresh air.
How would I know
if she can see between
walls I erect?
Moldy old architect . . .
Gimp limper, soft sayer,
big sugar daddy
stays with his mama
feeding from her thighs
in her coruscating hive.
The wind blows me open.

A needle in the big vein.
See how it’s done?
Would you like a taste?
A snort? OK. It does
nothing, like cocaine
moves me not, ever.
Only marijuana.
For now, beer, tequila,
wine if with sourdough.
Most of all the mother
with granny glasses,
pearls that are her teeth,
foreplay in my front seat
moving the gear shift.

Put her old man through
art school, working
minimum wage.
Exchanged her for one
younger once in hand
he had his art teaching job.
Typical misogynist story:
man feels advancing age,
needs increase exponentially.
I say, He had to be
a fool to leave you.
She says, Take me
to your bed. I say,
By the riverbank?

I’m remembering
again. Not the story
you thought it would be,
the one about lost
love, unrequited love,
no love, no money,
that kind of wind
between cracks in walls
I hunker inside,
click clicking pause
click again, into nights
the sun’s plugged in,
turned on, memory
all there is, but ample.

(3 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lagunitas between Storms

Where does Buddha go when rain falls on the Bo tree?
Rain is called Weather by the sage next door,
but that’s the sage for you. He never fails to find
a universal Word like Cosmos, Nature, World,
all too-big words that along with Weather
mean too little to mean at all.

If there’s a master in the house he wields a stick.
Stay in rain. Lightning imperils
the flesh-and-blood initiate
before he reaches the ancient stage. Imagine
kabuki. Better yet, forget it. Kabuki
asks that you imitate, leave imagination
in the house with the master. If, then, a student
does not know what a word means, ask.
The master will say, Look it up.
It rains pearls shaped like drops of sky.
There is no word for Sky but sky, like Rain . . .

He wields his stick, or begins to,
I flee one storm into town. There,
all the bad habits of the Western World
await, bright nails, sparkling eyes curious:
What do you want? What may I have
you think you want? Is there someplace

west of here we could lie, bodies entwined . . .
What would it cost? Is it blood or money?
When do clouds open? Early? or Late?
What is God called when you are drowning?

Juan peers into the mirror and enunciates,
John Flowers. Words like Leila Shulamite,
Maria Teresa. And where is She
at this moment in the West? Surely not
east of here? Would some gadget of our time
show Her going about Her day,
happy now She’s free of his memory,
believing: It’s best, I need to forget . . .

If You never see him, Eyes,
if You never touch him, Lips,
if his never see You, touch Yours,
bodies living only in photographs,
there are great distances between breaths
that breathe only to start another storm.

I can imagine Love but it is much too big
a word to know. Which one is the Bo tree?
And does it root only in the mirror?
I can tell Her nothing She does not know.
And nobody arrives, nobody leaves.

(2 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Auditor

Tony and Laurie have sold the Forest Knolls Lodge
and will move into Berkeley, where Laurie’s mother
left her the house. Tony is having trouble standing.
He says, I’d rather read The Mad Pomegranate Tree.
Odysseas Elytis is an acquired taste. All Tony’s tastes
have had to be acquired. He’s not acquisitive, mind you,
just particular, especially when it comes to marriage.
Laurie looks forward to getting out of the bar business.
She wants to go back to reading French lit in French,
otherwise why was all her education acquired? Lydia
Davis has nothing on Laurie, who could be translating
instead of tending bar, and Tony, who left college
behind after a straight-A year, has been devoted
to her well-being, as she to his, and they are happy,
I think the word is. In Berkeley they will make a move
that is their third: San Francisco, Forest Knolls, now
Berkeley. Too bad Mario Savio is dead, Tony remarks,
he would’ve been perfect to run this place, I would’ve
made him a partner, given him controlling interest,
been privy to the world as it will soon be, not is or was.

In Berkeley I drank passionately in The Mandrake.
The woman tending bar liked to talk about potions
for making love. She was like a sister to me. Older
sister. She told me all about the vaunted sixties.
I told her nothing about my part in it, if I had one.
She liked to pour a head on the house beer, serve it
with a bowl of hot peppers for those who requested
such fare. I was one. I always walked out, not only
inebriated but on fire with passionate frenzy to live
more now than when I entered the dark establishment.
Now there is no place to go but home, Cathleen’s–
either Lagunitas or California Street. I am happy.
I am aging. I need to stop writing now and start living.
I care nothing for taking up Buddhism this late in life.
I tire of Catholicism, the priests growing more dogmatic.
If I love to fuck, I love to think. Imagination most of all.
Cathleen loves to hear me read what I write, unless it’s
what she calls "a rant." I would be through with all that,
but such intemperate speech may well be my mainstay.
Who cares? If I shut up she may begin to miss my voice.

(1 June 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander