Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lazarus Land

Here follows a memory I wish were otherwise.
I won’t say her name here.
She’s in her halcyon days, in love, like me
Now would always have been too late
to love like we loved then.
The heart observed its own seasons, sudden
and full to the brim they were.
I was thirty, she twenty-one, one night
she stayed and never left
until I had driven her away
at the end of a year.
Until then I loved her with such passion
I had to drink to show her how inhumane
I could be. She showed me her kit,
said, Would you want me to start using?
After the lower Yakima valley–
later she looked for me in the phone book–
and Seattle–after I left the vineyard
to be uprooted–and that town named
for a railroad car, where I learned
to write . . . prose (why I write flawed verse),
where we loved . . .
In California the gypsy said, Let’s go together. . .
even so I wrote a letter to the remembered
never mailed, sitting outside a bungalow
between Mission Beach and La Jolla,
then hitched to Lagunitas and the gypsy
took me to Massachusetts, Albuquerque,
and northern Minnesota to keep me warm
into the final winter.
Not long ago I wrote: “Irene–
ambition” then the name of the remembered
and what I did to our marriage, “destruction,”
finally the gypsy “Cathleen– . . .” followed
by a word I don’t remember,
it may have been “resurrection,”
I don’t recall, not now. I’m still in the middle
of whatever it was . . . is . . .
saith Old Rememberer, me.

(31 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Working Stiff

We worked the graveyard shift and after that
the closest bar. One night Ruth came along,
I went home with her. Her daughter slept through
the sounds. Ruth had red hair, top to bottom,
her toes were pink. Nothing on her was dark.
So naturally I remembered Irene,
who by now had a home, husband, children
for all I knew. I lay with Ruth in bed,
bodies glistening with our love juices
. . . remembering Irene Castenada.

I was here summers working graveyard shift.
Ruth was working the line where the women,
as usual, worked harder than the men.
We did the heavy lifting, took chances,
kept up bravado with our meaningless
conversation women had no time for.
Some who lived alone would take a man home.
One does what one remembers feeling good.
After Irene no one had felt as good
to me. Unlike Ruth, I had not married.

When summer ended I went back across
the mountains. My first city, Seattle.
What can I say, who loved only his mind . . .
There was the elder who told me I was
like him drinking, fucking, sleeping too much.
He urged on me the work of the woman
who wrote as perfectly as she loved him
in bed. His teacher. What if I had stayed
in that valley fathering children with
Irene, a working stiff learning Spanish

instead of loving one woman after
the last, going to school with the masters
of words who knew what they saw in their minds
emerged from and returned to all the words
no one with whom I labored for money
or slept with ever said. The working stiffs.
They knew what they were doing was for life.
Ruth and her sisters married among them.
The year I met Cathleen she could not live
with me without her mother’s permission.

Therefore our friend Sharon covered for her.
She worked the desk, the switchboard, every night,
and when someone asked for Cathleen she said
where she was, when she returned, how often
she worked with books in her room through the night . . .
Cathleen with me that year in the houseboat
on Lake Union, off Fairview, and we slept
together after love, once tumescence
had turned detumescent, the working stiff
in me now limp with love for my gypsy.

(30 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, August 29, 2011


When not with Willie in Albuquerque,
Evelyn stayed in Santa Fe
gardening and fucking young men
she never called boys. She was hip.
I use my hips like training wheels,
she laughed on her job as librarian
for the State of New Mexico.
She grew corn and squash in her great garden
and brought Willie corn and squash that he ate
in his hot tub, wiping his lips with suds
from the churning water. If he had fun
so did she. If he was sad, having lost
a game and would be facing the best team
in the conference with such poor prospects,
she devoted herself throughout the night
to his pleasure. She did what he asked her,
she loved. So did whomever else was there
naked, languishing, ready for his cock
. . . But then how do I know such things?
I kept my clothes on the night I was stopped
for driving too slow. We had smoked and drank
by her garden where she analyzed my work
by referring to Garcia Marquez,
who never wrote poems, I insisted.
You’re the one who reads Garcia Marquez,
she replied, Or so you say, I don’t know
Spanish that well. I don’t read it either,
I said, Gregory Rabassa’s version
in English improved on his own or so
he said. She thought that was unusual.
I wondered aloud if my poetry
would be worth translating into Spanish
someday. She said she doubted such fortune.
Life was full of disappointments.
I should have gone to college to play ball,
I could fuck my fill of beautiful girls
with a body carved out of discipline
to desire nothing more than victory.
She walked me to my car, kissed me lightly
on one cheek, and on the way home I ran
out of smokes, and driving too slow, looking
for a 7-11 I found one
in time for the cops to intercept me
going through the door. A long night in jail,
then court and conviction, and on appeal
my friend and lawyer Louise got me off.
After all, she knew the judge, Teresa
Gomez, who said cops had no business
making an arrest for driving too slow
where the minimum speed was not posted.

(29 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Snake Eyes

In the moment of ardor a storm hits,
sperm finds ovum in a quick embrace,
future destroyed to create another
wind whipping rain like a blacksnake
across the backs of chain-gang laborers,
sky so full of love it can’t help but hate
endings with invisible beginnings.

Look at how the planet churns space
with its fiery grip on all the black holes
galaxies require to be born . . .
If we weren’t this high, honey, whadaya
suppose this energy spinning its wheels
would do without the firmament ‘s floor
but swallow dice rolling snake eyes . . .

(28 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, August 27, 2011


She asked Evelyn to come home with her
for menage a trois, but was refused.
She had a new man,
actually the old one,
and Evelyn loved to play with her and Willie but not
now. To Evelyn a new man
was not even new.
They paid the pizza bill and walked to Evelyn’s car
from the patio shade where men watched
them go to get the lid of grass
promised and already paid for,
for at home he was waiting for the door to open,
writing something that looked a lot like this
though he was seeing somewhere else far off.

(27 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, August 26, 2011


Climate change: shut down the government,
who needs it? Return to frontier days,
wear a holster full of lead and fire,
work the wife to death having children
doing whatever else needs to be done
the husband can’t or doesn’t want to do
after all he does mere mortals cannot do.

It’s time America came back to its senses.
Remember the tree felled across Mill River
in the hurricane of 1938 in our backyard,
North Amherst, in the most desperate years
we lived, too young for two so old. Too many
lovers. Too much everything. Still, it’s a body
takes the wheel and drives us on to Paradise.

(26 August 2011)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


White butterflies are fluttering in the tall grasses in twos.

Every morning she tells me what she sees.

(She is out where he was.
Men go by led by dogs.
One tree is missing with its nests of orioles.
Blue jays haunt the cedar by the door.
Her body is the shape of the sun.)

Nothing is remarkable where the dead view the living .

There the living would believe it is night.

(25 August 2011)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Some Time

Sometimes I love the night and its endless emancipation from thought,
curlicues of dream entwined with the door to memory’s love and fear.
There are the sinuous moves of the beloved’s body from far-off times,
and dread she will leave as she always has, to find a life to learn from.
Before such infatuation with past and future, I loved mostly the days.
When I loved I left nothing in the bottomless well of life to draw from
knowing part way yields nothing finally and only all the way suffices.
If the bones know more than the flesh because they are covered over,
a body moves with its writs of gratitude once death is bypassed again.
How could I ever say I learned nothing with the showers of knowledge
littering the field like lightning bolts waiting to be gathered and stored
in these frail words whose romance leaves its Wittgenstein far behind!

(24 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A True Summer Day

Virgil helped Alec build the garage,
in fact he built it block by block,
mixing his own mud, feet on the ground,
talking talking talking: might makes right
his favorite topic, a history of American
good and evil until he opened his pail
and found nothing for lunch. He ate
what Lorene prepared and praised
her food throughout the hour of leisure.
He talked with his mouth full and empty.
The weather and the company was good,
nothing evil on a true summer day.

Everyone in town came out to talk
with Alec in his new backyard garage
where he worked on cars while his boy
ditched, irrigated, hoed, and all else
the six and a half acres of Concord grapes
required between pruning and harvest.
The boy milked the cow and went to school,
came home and milked the cow and slept
after homework, reading library books,
and making up what lived only on paper.
Asparagus, cherries, apricots, pears,
peaches, apples, trees picked and fruit
in boxes set on trailers behind tractors,
and in between the potato warehouse.

Irene took him to the show, caressed him
in the dark as he slid one hand under
her summer dress, and when the movie
ended they fed on burgers and shakes
and in the car on top of the mountain
that was really only a Sunnyside hill
they stripped each other slowly in the dark
and let their bodies love one another.
Tomorrow, mass, and they came here
afterward and practiced loving again . . .
When they were alone, summer was
the time to walk naked under the moon.

(23 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Small Wind

Her poppies are dancing in the small wind.

I could see the city from where I work
if God did not live in the great mountains
between. The preacher towers above me,
he could play the game because he was large;
if he were standing closer to the peaks
he might see for himself godless cities
he rails against in public once a week.
The preacher tells the coach how good I am.

What she loves is dancing with her poppies.
Her long brown locks touch her creamy shoulders.

The dark beauty with the mole on her cheek
taught him to love and said he taught her too.

I shovel in sand and unsack cement
in the mixer. Virgil is on the roof
laying bricks for a fireplace far away
from the mountains but closer to the home
of one whose hair swirls around her shoulders
dancing with her poppies in the small wind
that girdles his climb up the long ladder
with hod in a pail that reaches the roof.

The dark beauty went off to live her life
the way she must to find her happiness.

In my elder years I live far away
from her. I long since gave up football,
labor that rung out my bones, left to dry.

Through the window I see my love dancing
with poppies. She swirls as though she held them
and they her, the mountains so far away
no one, not even the preacher, could see
where God lives, or the city where you go
to learn the ways of the world and be wild

after so much, so little given up
to learn to dance with love in the small wind.

(22 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, August 21, 2011

From a Magic Slate


a hole in the wall,
the rip in the sky

both feet on the earth
one then the other

you were always here
or you were nowhere

I can’t read a rune
or write in rhyme

I know one who can
with a tongue like fire

the age is awash
with blood in the sand

men no longer live
with care for the world,

only a planet
talking to itself


humanity has
a hole in the head

dancing doesn’t make
rain without the clouds

seven months winter
summer to breathe in

you write up the dead
put down the living

who’s will-o’-the-wisp
in this bugbear’s game

will death take over
our daily errands

who would want to talk
without saying words

that must start somewhere
among galaxies


who was aware March
was the end of snow

and why were the roads
more treacherous then

and how do you drive
where skies fall straight down

heat stays in the house
if you pay the bill

be grateful good luck
is here when bad luck

turns the air to ice
and the storms go south

or revolve around
the village circle

while apparitions
keep specters at bay

(21 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Unnecessary Immortality

How to navigate the straits
without crashing the rocks?
How to walk a line crippled,
how to cushion a hip destroyed?

You don’t read Wordsworth
after “The Child is father
of the Man,” a chicken & egg
riddle everyone unriddles.
You look for the albatross, see
a civilization undone
as the wedding guest invites
himself and doddles at the gate.
You inhale the burning fumes
others call opium.

The centuries go by, a blur.
Not all those with something to say
are dead. "Milton! thou shouldst be living
at this hour:" America "hath need of thee:"
Go pilgrim'ng where Here is not,
Bunyan'ng across one shoulder
what you have, all you ever need.

See the double rainbow? It’s here
Christ's blood-red mountains rise and part
between them a place to walk.
A desert never floods, it cataracts.
The Great River is paved over.
I climb La Bajada to play the slots.
Here I am . . . once upon a time.

20 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, August 19, 2011

Who Knows?

Stories that are true never have details
you can verify. I can’t even say for sure
if I tell what happened or if I make it up.
What am I going to do when the pages yellow
and I am bony dust in the atmosphere . . .
Who will read me knowing what I know?
Who will spurn my words for the sake of truth?
En otras palabras, who gives a damn
as long as the story coheres somehow
with its antecedents, its . . . I don’t know
what to call what comes later . . . progeny?

Cathleen called the house. Paolo answered.
He told her where I was, naturally. Paolo
knows how to say nothing but the fact itself.
So she called Adore. So this is Cathleen,
Adore remarked. What did you tell her?
Adore told me she said as little as she could.
I told Adore she would love Cathleen.
Adore said something under her breath
and we finished talking with brief praises
that are nobody’s business but our own.
See how easy it is to convince you it’s true
when it’s not?

Cathleen knew houses were not homes,
though apartments could be. She had one.
She called it The Citadel. On moonless nights
the lights of the hotel at the bottom of the hill
were beacons for her boys, her young men,
her high-rollers, her quickly aging clients.
She never wanted to talk about it anymore.
She loved San Francisco, she loved Paris.
She haunted the Louvre. Leonardo, Manet.
She talked of them as I had not known her
to talk since Santa Fe. She had a lover
in Paris,

she did not say and I did not ask. Why else
was I here rather than so near the Pacific
I felt a spray against my skin even where
only memory sufficed . . . I adore Adore,
I had already told her. You had one mother,
she said once. I chided her, Yeah, she’s dead,
coffin washed out to the Gulf and God knows
she was the best mother she could ever be
considering the hell the war put her through,
. . . We fought when we lived apart, we loved
when we shared a bed. Cathleen, I mean . . .
my wife.

I’m as far south as I ever go now. Mexico
is out. I live on what I earn off The Saloon.
Many times I wish Ray Fox were still alive,
maybe even happy for a change. His mother
left him like prey served up for whores alone.
I’ll bet you didn’t know this. You thought Ray
was a sad fact and that was all, you didn’t know
how he brought women home to meet his mother
and she prayed he would not marry. You think
Ray’s sorrow ate him alive, and you’re right.
He left me The Saloon. What did I do to have
such luck?

Pero basta! The day overflows with sun. The lake
sparkles, the river runs, so many people happy.
Who am I to doubt my own existence? I return
her call. She tells me San Francisco is like home
after Paris, though the Seine, Notre Dame–it all
beckons. She wants to take me there, why don’t
I come? No need to invite her to New Orleans,
what would she do here? Her designs went over
well, she will make the money to live there
if she can keep pace with their desire for more.
You will, I say. But now, I add, I need my satchel
full of words.

She knows why. She knew Carlos. She’s known
me all her life, more than fifty years. Some lovers
never live so long, she likes to say. She keeps me
loving her by loving herself, not like the old days
when only money did the trick. I’ll bet you think
I’m telling a story now, what others would call lies.
Do I lie? Do you? Why would I tell the gods’ truth
about the woman I love more than myself? Maybe
I should love myself more? Maybe the stars align
so we can only guess what happens when we die.
We may have souls that go straight up, but where?
Who knows?

19 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, August 18, 2011


He had this dream . . . this one:
A man wearing a stovepipe hat
stood at the back of a gypsy wagon
praising a bottle of magic elixir
whose enyzyme, Telomerase,
he guaranteed would reverse
aging and for only two hundred
and fifty dollars per bottle filled
with 30 ccs of this magic formula
that must be used every day and
for only four hundred and fifty
two bottles that would ordinarily
cost five hundred (he said to help
those already on their way around
the aging cycle). Reset your clock!
Renew your DNA! Reverse age
from the inside out! No side effects!
How much longer I can offer this
amazing elixir I cannot tell you!
It may cost you seven thousand
by the time I come to town again!

He woke and put his hand on her
beautiful skin. He looked her over
with joy in him full to bursting
behind his eyes. He did not know
her, but how could he not love her?
She woke, her eyes on his, steady
and warm but the day already
on her lips, sun flooding the room.
I got to put up a darker blanket
so I can sleep later if I want to,
she smiled. He said something lewd
and she made love with him again,
her body wrapped fully around his.
When he was dreaming he was
fifty and she was seventy. Now
I can’t tell you how much time
has passed since then. I can say
they are still waking together.
They go to sleep to the cicadas.
Their bodies glisten with love’s
juices, the kind you can’t contain.

(18 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Days and Nights Before

I stayed on till closing time. Tourists thinned,
picked up again, the night was good business.
Unsavory, seedy brothers by day,
by night sisters hustling to get money.
I loved New Orleans was never dull.
It was also good to flex the senses,
especially in the dark. I changed pace
and if the sound behind me changed I turned
to see if there was someone in pursuit,
or if footsteps signaled more than one pair
of feet falling . . . Daylight meant nothing less
beyond the crowds. I could be persuaded
of the value of even bigoted,
racist guardians of law being near,
especially since I was white like them,
but the black cops I trusted most of all
being as in the old days I drove cars
through the shantytowns of fear, we called them,
from here through Mississippi to Georgia.
When this former model from Manhattan
came home to Alabama and we met
there to make love to music crickets made,
Hida never went back to work again,
not in the Apple. Continued cocaine,
though, turned tricks in Birmingham to buy it,
lost the hue of her healthy skin, her looks,
turned up a derelict in Santa Fe,
where I saw her last, then heard she had died.
Cathleen and I, from Silver Avenue,
Albuquerque, went to the unmarked grave,
Cathleen flush enough to put up a stone.
Santa Fe of course didn't know the name.
She had one friend who followed her from home
here, said she was so frail her heart gave out.
I left him with coke to snort, Thunderbird
flowing like water through his empty shell
of a body bereft of food. Hida
left him briefly, and in Albuquerque
met Cathleen living alone, and through her
the man on the west mesa she wanted
who ignored her, a football coach by day,
at night pimping from the Radisson bar.
In San Francisco Cathleen designed clothes
ladies of means also wore in Paris.

(17 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In The Saloon Again

We kissed at the door. I held her close and
she returned the embrace. I wanted to
dither. I better not. She is my friend,
Mama Nell’s confidante. Maybe mine too
someday. She kisses me again, I kiss
her back. She says, You have lipstick on you.
I say, It’s OK, leave it. I go off
to The Saloon next door. There’s Young Jackson
working as fast as he can. I help him
with tourists who drink their lunch. When a lull
comes, he tells me a cop’s been watching him,
three, four days now. Take some time off, I say.
I need something to do to make money . . .
my own, I don’t add. It’s Adore at night,
The Saloon by day, I oughta be hard
at work on what Carlos wrote or what I
started before he walked off and was gone
forever. I tell Young Jackson to go,
I’ll find out why the cop’s hanging around.
Sure enough, he comes walking by and looks
me over and I beckon him inside.
He says, That nigger boy working with you?
For me, I reply, he’s my foster son,
there’s no need for you to worry our mind
but you really ought to have more respect,
you’re here to protect us not indict us,
and if I hear you say nigger again
I’ll have your job and sue your ass to boot.
He blanched, said he was sorry, it wouldn’t
happen again. I kept quiet. He left.

(16 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Fool in The World

He walks through wind and rain to Bourbon,
takes a side trip to the house of Patsy Rose
next door to The Saloon. He needs to dry out,
he needs her thick red hair and her long red
fingertips to read his cards. Where am I
going, what must I do to keep going . . .
She calls him Johnny. She knows the story.
She takes him in, shucks his wet clothes,
towels his body, brings him a big robe,
says it was her man’s, the one who left her
alone. She’s already said one’s enough.
He looks out at the trees in the courtyard.
There are two. He knows the story. Her man
looked after them with diligence,
determined to love what was not human,
she said he said and she loved him for it.
She missed him. Will you love me, Johnny Boy?
he fantasized, her black eyes entangled
with his brown eyes, she and Adore two trees
he too might care for. Her reading echoed
the one that came before California,
The Fool in The World. And she remembered:
Something essential has been left undone,
but now The World is covered by The Fool.
Last time The World was on top of The Fool.
Both times in the middle were The Lovers.
She said this reading left out The Devil,
He or She was there, between The Lovers,
Patsy Rose said: You can’t have a future
until you have settled up with the past.

(15 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Looking for Loas

She said she didn’t know how old he was
and all he could do was guess her age.
She sat on the rumpled bed, facing him,
said, Look me in the eyes, honey,
I want to see if what I put in you
still is . . . He did, it was, so she said.

Her mama who is not her mother
stopped by, seeing them naked she smiled.
She wanted to share her recipe
for changing the weather in another
upright. What do you mean, upright?
The centenarian pointed.

There was a wind coming in,
sky getting dark, rain sprinkling down
at first, then landing with big drops
on dignity and disgrace alike.
Mama and daughter communed.
He half-expected the hunchback next.

She had said the horses were still inside.
One more reason to come back here
where a body had its own reasons
for doing things like fucking or casting spells
and sometimes both at once, that’s why he loved
this city, its women, its music.

He went out then looked back in and pointed
toward the street. Mama Ju-Ju pointed back
at him, where she had gestured before. Adore
said, You be careful, there’s a storm coming.
He was unaccustomed to the silence
when he opened the knotty door.

He would stroll over to see Young Jackson
and ask how Roberto and Lelli were,
then down to the wharf where Rocky and Belle
were working together now.
Juan had the feeling he was out in the open
to stay, the weather was the least of it.

(14 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In Scarred Sepia

Now a poor-white tenant farmer’s son declares war
on the educated single mother’s son born poor
who is president but blocked wherever he turns
by adversaries already in power. It is the same
as my father said: his father fought over jobs
in the marketplace of crumbs
warring with dark-skinned men equal under law
only after brothers clashed, waging civil war
over this earth stained then and still
by the blood of slaves and their progeny
who even now are called every foul name
under the sun by those who fear mirrors,
haunted by trees whose branches weighed
bodies remembered to bare such vision.
Look in your mirror, pathetic kinsmen, and see
history’s brutality delivered nightly to your dreams.

(13 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, August 12, 2011


When the rains crash down and the wind whistles in
and the little house shakes and the doors blow open
and the Mississippi rises and Pontchartrain rocks
against the levee and it’s only August and love is
staying alive not because of you but due to your woman,
hurricane season not always as apocalyptic as lately
and her body is warm bread for your body’s hunger
and the street goes on filling with everything human
beings are and need or don’t need and are not, ever,
and what I am saying I don’t need to say, not anymore.

(12 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Summer Morning

Here I am, an old man remembering.
I could tick off the bullets in a life
–why wouldn’t it be one hell of a speech?
I know now if it were not for women
I would know nothing, remember nothing.
Why go on then? Why not let their love be?
Tell the story of your doomed family,
murder in the Blue Ridge, flight from the law
into Oklahoma Territory,
Cherokee woman dying in childbirth
in Arkansas, my grandma’s Welsh father
leaving to start another family,
my father named after the man who played
and sang in the little towns he rode through,
loved her mother: it was his stillborn child
killed her. All this long before I arrived.
I could tell the story in poetry
but it happened in prose, all but love’s few
and brief intercessions, one woman’s love,
Pearl Taylor she was called, a troubadour’s
darling, and what was he but a rounder?
yet once she learned her Welsh father loved whores
on Fort Smith’s Row down by the Arkansas
River, Grandma declared she told the truth . . .
and so should I if I ever grew old
and, she added, you can love women too . . .
Now, with the grass wet with dew and the sun
as bright as it ever grows in summer,
my bones comply with the earth’s curvature.
And yes, it makes me remember women.

(11 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander



She wants to sit with you and hear you read
the one she plucked from the big poem pile.
It is called "Poem to Save My Country."
It is 1967. In it I am in Mazatlan.
This hombre begs me to go to his house
to drink with him and if I will he says
I can take his daughter’s hymen. I say
I have to go to Mexico City.

Sitting here with Carol at the table,
drinking Paisano and eating sourdough
and listening to Tracy Nelson sing
"Down So Low" Carol says grief is her thing,
takes my hand and leads me to the bedroom.
Jewish girl with blonde hair. Did you dye it?
Too late to ask. Who cares? Not this body.

At Snake River, naked, we lie beside
the brown water flowing past the whirlpool,
fucking in the sun like the youth we are.
I scribble and read aloud as it goes,
"A Desire to Be Done with Folly." She’s
my desire, I’m her folly. I love her
small-boned body, her no-nonsense talk,
a gift willing to open, teach me fire
before she vanishes, after what love takes.

(11 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Black & Tan

"I see so few white boys in here sober."
"I gotta be, girl, or I get crazy."
Dancing close gives a broken man new life,
not just hope, which is a copout for dread.

"My name is Jill, what’s yours? Do you live here?"
"Juan. I live in Seattle. Hablas espanol?"
"No, pidgin English. Parlez- vous Francais?"

In the Black & Tan, in the Central District,
Juan moves among intensities,
women who make themselves available
to men if for no other reason
than dancing. Jill leads Juan, who follows her.

When at last he tells her he was broken
she is sitting with him on a front step,
and asks for more. Others walk by, open
the door. Juan answers her. "I died back there
where no one comes out whole. Being born here
makes you never want to live to be old."

(10 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

First Avenue

The mysterious love of this life
corrupts its very nature.
That’s why the body’s balance
fails upon rising.
A nickel in the slot comes out
a dime’s worth of lovely.
Measure yourself in a window
left open to gather the sun
like a day you would otherwise not see.
Why does love need more than life?
Why go into the reflection
as Cocteau’s Orphee disappeared
to find Eurydice?
Walk this street to find all the Hell
you need: women starved for a high,
men with a taste that leads to more,
children passing through
with nothing to spare,
and always the guardians
with their guns and clubs and smiles.
Vacancy signs. Boats astern,
awaiting corpses.
Where are the doors to Heaven?
Why do the great wings guard its gate?
Could it be this city is all you have,
the fires behind you everything you loved?
When will you be through
with this incessant, useless questioning?
Sit then. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Body rises, sways, steadies, is still, walks.

(9 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Beginning of a Week in Eden

It was Monday when you looked at the light
glazing the window.
Monday of wet clothes flapping in the wind,
Monday of the heart beating in its cage.
The sun hunts a way to break through long clouds.
A tree falls between two houses. The wind,
rain, your good fortune.
It was Monday and the I was now he . . .
Shadows bent around the walls where he walked,
he had no compass.
On earth he could find many things to love.
May this be one, or two, or maybe all
the green leaves we wear in Eden.
Wherever that is.

(8 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, August 7, 2011

For Sam Hamill

Where you go now you take beauty with you,
the lover you needed who needed you.
Her love was the breath of your only world.
May your heart breathe new life into your land.

(In memory of Gray Foster)

(7 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, August 6, 2011

After the Blade

                              for Ira and our late friend Gus

I watch Yojimbo again and prefer Ikiru.
I visit Japan to learn how Kurosawa died.
Attempted suicides should be investigated
even if the consensus is a natural death.
I had a friend couldn’t forget Seven Samurai.
The tone and grace of the image on screen
led him to screen it over and over.
I watch it now and think of the people,
their desire to do what no sword requires,
only to know there is no violence
in villages where everyone is armed
and duly trained to decimate the foe
invading your home. A machete hangs
on my wall alongside a chicken’s foot
and Mardi Gras mask. I shouldn’t have to
think twice. I’m ready. If the blade’s not sharp,
knowing how to grasp the handle is all
you need. And wear the mask. The chicken’s foot
after years of seasoning will suffice.

What if you don’t live in Tokyo, New Orleans,
. . . or Port au Prince before the earth’s fissure
devours the loa . . . Say the claws clutch air
a wild priest conjures to become the fowl
on both feet arching ten fingers over
what comes between him and his happiness
in cities: he must go behind mountains
to find the face of earth in an old man’s
joy swinging in a swing knowing this death
is only his first death. And here he is,
in the park he wanted to build and did,
a humble civil servant with cancer
dying, becoming a child, swinging high.
You taught us ikiru translates to live,
having survived cities before you left.

(6 August 2011)

Friday, August 5, 2011


What do you care about?
The daily mirage, the night sky?
Who saves you from all the death
you thought you could fool
and spared you only inexplicably?
Then there is my olive-skin gypsy
and our half century love affair,
how do you have such luck
after so many suicidal
tests that never took
root . . . lucky for you
you were that hungry to live

(5 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


There are men who make everything anew
and in their own washed out image, the glare
blanco. They are everywhere. Do not touch
the earth on which they walk, or you will die,
they need you only if you do their will.

(5 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, August 4, 2011


For the sake of no one
the winds refuse to move.
Bird claws grip tree limbs
and can’t let go. Wings
flutter like a dying lover.
The winds hang in the air.

(4 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Making the News

. . . we become hightoned riffraff who need comeuppance from surrogate fathers directing their megabeggar corps comprising one person en toto: welcome back to serfdom, . . .

(4 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


We have wood to kindle, flame to blow high,
the dark is light enough to see in now.
Be patient. The rose by the creek is sweet
under moonlight. Leave a little for me.

We will love the darkness as light itself.
Let braille invent what we can’t uncover.
Touch me, you ask. The orange crayfish glides
at dawn back of where it was when we woke.

Some voice is calling through the trees, Come home!
We do not know of whom they speak, nor care.
We keep far from any home. Our bodies
are one body with doors we never lock.

All day the cities smolder. Night is our time,
far off from where love vanishes with life.

(3 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In Her Shotgun House

From the lake to river and then back home
they stroll. I would like to tell you who walks
with them, God or the Reaper . . . I don’t know.
The front door is open, the back door too.
If you look you can see all the way through.
Lock the front door. Close the back door. Silence
after footsteps. Their clothes adorn the floor.
They do what they know will please their bodies.
Water is deep or it flows by. Baptize
the devil and watch it shrivel to dust.
Even the Reaper has a human shape.
God walks on the roof. He calls up Thunder,
whose fingers are lightning and his words rain:
She would love me once more if it’s my turn.

(3 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Adore Blues

We went walking all the way to the wharf
On a red hot day the last of July,
Just to hear your blues through an open door

I’m an orphan child New Orleans style,
I’m as wild as hell the older I get,
With this body you’d think I was a girl

Adore, Adore, you taught me to love you,
I can’t stay out of your house or your bed,
I don’t know what I’ll do when you are dead

She says if you don’t love yourself, who will
I stare down in the water where God was
She takes my hand, she puts it where we love

(2 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, August 1, 2011

Before I Disappear

He’s looking rapt at her long gray hair. Love
is a weak word known for its lack of strength
to keep a heart whole. Her face full of sheen
off the lake surface makes her body glow.
The light flows through shadows down to her feet.
Somebody’s voice is coming through the door,
"Before I disappear," he touches her
on the elbow. She turns to him. She gives
him a hand to hold, her eyes filled with shine
open into whirlpools. He doesn’t know
where he’s going next but it will be here.
He just can’t tell what it will be like when
she goes. Is there a sound in that deep well
that will surround the figure of her soul?

(1 August 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander