Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Hard-Knocks School Hour

They came during visiting hours,
the two women who still loved him,
Cathleen and Elizabeth, friends,
would-be sisters, Cathleen his love,
Elizabeth his confidante,
together where he was caged
for his own good, as some put it,
and why nobody had to tell
him now, he had known from the first
a human body must have sleep
and its mind make peace with itself;
Cathleen looking out the window,
through the wire mesh, the sparkling lake
named Washington, Elizabeth
talking of Lord Byron swimming
the Hellespont. What of John Donne?
he did not ask. He did not speak.
He might have confessed, but why say
the obvious? At twenty one
he could learn from such ill fortune.
A gallant would become holy,
his craft turn into religion,
the words his own, no god involved.
He said them clearly in his mind.
When they left he wrote on paper
Labor until I in labor
, and tore it up to prove it.
He read The Sound and the Fury,
but his own words arrived in time,
as they always had, but now meant
as a vow to stay out of here
once they let him go. Twenty two
by then, he would finally start
over, serve an apprenticeship
anew: he had something to say.
It would be brief like a poem
and continue like a novel,
but that was all aspiration,
and nothing counted but action.
He was here to stay three months long.
On the street he would walk again.
What it was like to walk it off,
sleep, love, everything that mattered
but breath. Therefore a newfound land
in the body of the mistress
sharing his bed, the South come north
to the Cambridge that’s in Boston,
this woman drawing him to her,
the watch falling without breaking;
beginning with Donne and Faulkner,
but as always in the service
of becoming Bobby St. Clair.

(31 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, January 30, 2012


laissez les bon temps roulez,
that’s what she loves
about home,
how can she feel
as good so far off
the rain falls like sun
shines where home was
hurricanes spun out of rain.

She tells him all he's known
of New Orleans.
He knows nothing but here,
Seattle, a city
still so strange
he must unearth
what is his. May rain
rain down.

What songs call love
sounds frivolous
and worn. How can
a man and woman go on
if they make no bed
to lie upon, and do
what they learned with others,
and may feel the same.

It does not seem the same.
They feel a tremble rise
and shower and fall
to start all over:
laissez les bon temps
roulez . . .
A new day,
baby, better than
the one before!

(30 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Scholarship Bobby

Anna said to keep his scholarship he better tell her
all he was doing, and she knew better than to limit
his quote end quote progress to his quote end quote scholarship,
he had not had the advantages that she and Paul had
enjoyed. And most of all, she would not talk so high and bright
to a kid she loved but, as he said, was from the lowlands,
a word that made her think he was reading Thomas Hardy
but knew he wasn’t, all he had to say was Cervantes
lived in a house full of books like this one, she should beware
of playing too many of the roles in mere romances,
adding, of course, he didn’t understand Don Quixote.
Anna loved the lad like he was one of her own children,
of whom there were none. Paul sat by and listened to him talk
of the classes required and those that were not that he took
to make the minimum to qualify to keep going
because it was either this or nothing. He had to quit
fucking around, he told himself, love was no substitute . . .
But he didn’t mention Earlene or Roderick or how
she battled the odds with ten to twelve hours a day waiting
tables, working the register, wiping surfaces clean,
keeping the place going when Aggie herself was not there.
He thought about her, though, and nearly confessed his heart’s weight.
All that stopped him were the details of what he was learning
and what else he could learn if he stayed the course and survived.
. . . how Shakespeare dovetailed into Joyce, what jazz had to do with
language (Paul smiled and added, Don’t forget my man Mozart),
and all the grinding freedom–how could it be both? he thought–
involved in letting yourself go, then shaping the result
as though Melville led directly to Giacometti,
a bad example, she interjected, but what I mean
is the flow of words in the service of meaning is like
the chisel that reduces human folly to its core.

(29 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bobby St. Clair in Love

He’d never been in love and he was almost twenty-one now, and he didn’t know what she was doing to him other than making him feel like a man who’s come out of the rain and into a room with a roaring fire that he thinks of as her heart. He had to know what to do next so he simply did what he felt, he went to see her next day and stayed for hours, writing all the while and running up a bill but watching her between pages, when he sipped coffee and pretended to be resting his eyes, so management wouldn’t get suspicious Earlene had a beau who seemed to be glued to his chair, chained to the table, but he was in one corner so nobody would mind when lunch hour, say, filled the place. She came by and smiled at him and even though he was sitting she didn’t have to peer down very far to catch his eyes so he could keep remembering hers as long as she was too busy to return. When she did, it was the smile and the long look while she was walking and his eyes catching hers and taking them as far into himself as he could open up a place for all of this to go. He was writing about rain and sun and fog, he was writing about walking with her and stopping to kiss her and to be kissed, about holding her and the precise way, as precise as he could make it, of the way her body felt, a body he had not seen naked but knew from the feel of his fingers in the folds of her clothes was going to be perfect, at least for him, and keep him happy for a very long time, as long as . . .

Was that enough? Was that all love was? If it was that simple, why was this his first time? What about those others? The high school flirts, the after-school fucks, the street girls who gave him the eye and he gave them what they were asking for, the working girls with their games to keep him coming back, the motherly women whose bodies taught him how to use his own to please them and prepare him for the girls and women to come, and he was not even twenty-one, my God! why didn’t he have it down yet, why was he still a callow, untutored lad with no one to ask what he should do next, how to get out of his heart this hot coal that went on smoldering when he happened to be alone . . . Now, hell, he had to go, he couldn’t stay on, and whispered to her he’d be across the street when she got off work, and she smiled without saying what she did not need to say. And sure enough, she came through the door when Aggie’s closed at ten, and here she was again, her black hair, her dark eyes and skin, and a fire inside ignited the smoldering ashes when he touched her hands with his and felt a little leap inside that may have been his heart . . . She said she missed him when she didn’t see him, or that’s what he hoped her eyes were saying, but there was no need to ask, not now . . .

(28 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Works

The girl with brown hair was from a good family,
“good” as in “with money.”
She was touted as a “good student” by her friend,
who set us up with a “blind” date.
The brown-haired girl told her friend later
I was “so swarthy,” and I “looked like a refined
ex-hood.” Next day I borrowed Dupree’s car,
and rear-ended another, skidding on morning
drizzle. Neither Dupree nor I had insurance.
He paid the damages and I owed him.
Dupree ran his own version of numbers,
a game any white boy needed to know
to go where he went, and now he went double time . . .
I walked everywhere. It was good for me.
I slimmed down. I started reading Dostoevsky,
the works. I was intent upon learning
how Seattle might resemble St. Petersburg.

I liked to fuck with Connie. She liked to mother
her lovers, she claimed. No need to mention
the food she prepared before or after,
nor how she kept going, caressing me
to keep me coming. I never told her I didn’t believe
mothers did that, but then she knew I didn’t know
anything about mothers. I must have had one,
but who? Would I ever know? Connie was childless,
and told me straight out making love with me
was the closest to having a child she would get.
I liked to call her Natasha, after the Filippovna woman
Myshkin desires. I told her all about The Idiot.
She said, “I love the way you talk, Bobby, you make
me want to take the time to read, when I have time.”
She took one day off after two weeks on.
She wanted to be able to afford to live on her own.
Her husband furnished her a place to sleep, for now . . .

Connie seemed to me more like the Sofya
who rescues Raskolnikov, though Connie
was more aggressive, refused to sell her body,
saw no reason to attach herself to another man,
no matter her needs. Marmeladov’s daughter had
no choice but to sell herself on the street.
She grew up in an attic room where she could not
stand straight. Connie read Crime and Punishment.
I never saw the girl with long brown hair again.
I didn’t fancy myself "swarthy" or "refined,”
and no one I knew–not Dupree, not Clark,
not Sanchez, not Jim (yet)–were cons. Sanchez
and I were swarthy, but only I read The House
of the Dead. Nor did we inhabit The Possessed.
In The Brothers Karamazov I took on all
the roles–Ivan, Dmitri, Alyosha, and Father Zossima,
even the child Ilyusha. But not the bastard son, Smerdyakov.

I was in Dylan’s when Jacqui showed up
a second time. She asked me what I was writing.
The Great Gatsby, I joked. She didn’t laugh,
but said she preferred Tender Is the Night.
She didn’t seem literary. She looked like one
who loved to fuck. I would find out.
Meanwhile, Connie dropped by when she was free.
Jacqui said she was reading On the Road.
Later on, she would read Last Exit to Brooklyn.
I preferred Selby, who knew more about a life
I knew in spite of what else I wanted
to know . . . As for Kerouac, I loved Maggie Cassidy.

When Earlene and I left the coffee shop the night
I walked her all the way home holding hands,
her hair falling around her small shoulders
after a day and night of the required hairnet.
It was a long walk in daylight, even longer at night,
and along the way she would stop so we could kiss.
She shushed me, inviting me in. Her son
was sleeping. She made tea and we whispered
loud enough to hear. She told me of home, Monroe,
Louisiana, then of her flight from New Orleans–
no place to rear Roderick, even with his father sober.
When she met him, Earlene loved to party
and live the good life, in the thick of things.
Then she became pregnant and they married
when he asked her to; her biggest mistake ever,
she vowed. Thank God that was all behind her.
Yes, she believed in God but didn’t go to church.
There was something wrong if you had to prove
to others how devout you were. Her God
was the voice inside that answered prayers.
After tea we kissed. Long, sweet kisses. I held her
very close, then left. She had a long day ahead.

(27 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Look Here

He goes home and writes. He sits in one place, finds words somewhere he
     can’t name, who
could? “That word came from the west end of the cerebral cortex,” or “Here’s
     a word waits
to dance where prefrontal lobotomies haunt the vacant eyes stumbling in the
     street” . . .
Is it like playing scales? running through the keys, pitching the sound that
     reaches beauty
where she wakes? fingers moving, body swaying, song humming at the edges
     of skin . . .
And writes, “I woke when she woke and we were harvest for our eyes.”

He can’t sleep even when he loses the map his words had made in the
     beginning when the drowse arrived,
the roll of the dice careened off the page, nothing made sense, the die turned
     up empty, you had to make it somehow, anyhow . . .
Gods would know how he tries, why he’s patient and who she is who walks
     into the room of his mind naked.
Sure they do, the leches, they want her for themselves, they spread their money
     on the floor, wait for her to come . . .
He turns over and sees the grinning skull multiply, their fingers grasping for
     what will never be theirs,
and that’s the way he dreams before he sleeps, imagining holding her, coupling
     their flesh, falling into her . . .

It’s dark when he wakes. He walks in the steps the night has taken. He hears his
     feet fall.
He goes all the way to where he can sit and eat and sip coffee and wait for her to get off work. She’s what he was dreaming, he believes dreams are
     harbingers of dreams
you feel being born as though you could know what it is brings love from the
     pain of birth,
you look, she’s there, you tap on the window, she notices, she smiles, she’s
     here to sit
where you are, across the table, you thought you were sleeping, holding her
     hands, hers yours.

(26 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Earlene and Roderick

I walk from my apartment across the street from the all-night hash house, four or five blocks above Ravenna, where Jim and Marge live, their baby blue Caddy convertible parked outside with the top up to keep the rain at bay, the madrona growing wild in the ravine bordering Ravenna Park.

I walk to Eastlake, and when an hour’s gone by I’m sagging from too little sleep. I trudge up the rise that will one day lie in the shadow of the freeway built to be done by the time the World’s Fair opens. I reach the intersection of Stewart and down eight to ten blocks, on the way downtown, is where the Greyhound bus station is located. A half block before the corner, I reach the building with its nondescript APARTMENTS FOR RENT sign above the no-name bar–with its pool tables where Sanchez likes to play afternoons when, as frequently happens, he’s got a gig that night with his combo up the street, at the New Congress Hotel, in the room with the dance floor just beyond the bar where I write poems for the women in their hip-high hose who wait tables and hang around where I occupy a stool with pencil and paper and a pen to recopy what I offer in exchange for the drink. Here, above the bar with its pool tables, are the low-rent apartments that include the one where my father slept before and after playing cards at the ongoing high-stakes game upstairs in the New Congress.

Earlene lives here with her son Roderick. She’s a young black-haired Cajun woman who says she fled her husband in New Orleans and came here to get as far away from him as she could. I know it was because of Roderick, who has a club foot and doesn’t need the aggravation of a deadbeat father if he’s going to do all he will dream of doing and that she works to give him the chance to do. She waits tables at Aggie’s, the restaurant a block down from the university, where professors and students come to eat and drink coffee. Her black hair and dark complexion lit up the room for me the day we first met there. A few weeks later, I took her to dinner at the Viceroy downtown, the restaurant that seems to sink below the street as you enter, and before being seated the maitre’d fits the gentleman for a formal jacket to wear while dining if you didn’t bring one, which I’ve never done though I can count on two hands the times I’ve been there. That night she invited me to stop by her place when I could, and a week or two gone by, here I am. I always call first.

I meet Roderick. He wants to be an engineer. I tell him he will be: Mind your mama and help her all you can, and someday you will be a fine man and make your mama proud. Earlene asks him to play in the other room–he’s four years old going on five–and pours me a cup of coffee. She doesn’t go to work for a couple hours, she’s glad I finally came by. It’s nice, she says, to see me again outside Aggie’s. Since we’ve talked only enough for her to explain her flight from New Orleans, and for me to try to tell her why, when I come into Aggie’s, I always read but mostly write both before and after eating and while drinking a second hoddle of coffee,. This time I tell her I want to make writing my life, she says that sounds wonderful, and pretty soon we’re talking about her journey from the Crescent City to the Emerald City. I say she must have a sister named Dorothy, like the one who found herself in that other Emerald City, Oz, and Earlene replies, That was a girl from Kansas, I was born in Louisiana, in bayou country.

I stay an hour. At the door she kisses me on the cheek and we're looking at each other eye to eye when I kiss her lightly on the lips. She’s a small woman but I can feel her intensity as I give her a big hug before leaving. She thanks me for coming, asks me back, says she’ll see me soon at Aggie’s, and adds, Don’t be a stranger now you know where we live. Outside the building I feel revived from my lack of sleep. I go downtown and on Third I catch the city bus back. I didn’t know why I chose to go there now, but I felt for sure I had been in someone’s home. I knew I would be back.

(25 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

After Dinner When Conversation Ends

Anna: Why don’t you devote some time to learning French?
Bobby: First, I’d have to go to France.
Anna: Why?
Bobby: Because I need to be where it’s the only language I hear.
Paul: Like listening to an orchestra?
Bobby: More like a bee hive, where the worker bees know as much or more than the queen.
Anna: You took two years of Latin. Use what you know to learn what you need.
Bobby: I did, in Mexico. It was the verbal sense, that structure I can’t grasp, finally.
Paul: But you came back wanting to learn more?
Bobby: I didn’t want it badly enough, I guess. But what’s the sense of mourning what’s not dead yet?

His teachers clam up, they don’t know what he means and the subject seems to float on the air like smog.
Anna reads Flaubert in the original and that’s what started this exchange. Paul knows German.
Bobby thinks: I don’t know shit. I’m dependent on translators, Francis Steegmuller, Douglas Parmee. Maybe the world is too large for me. I’ll never get out of Seattle.

The night is full of sounds and smells outside, you can see the lights from below and the bleat of boat horns, a phalanx of restaurants and cafes sends wafting out a hint of flavors. Bobby takes a bus back. He is hungry for a taste of Connie. She’s midway through her shift and he stays long enough to set up the assignation. He leaves feeling like Flaubert in one of those houses he knew so much about, or so the biography, the legend has it.

He goes to Dylan’s and sits alone so he can write. He’s writing about some people he knows. You’ve met them already, reader, you may know them as well as Bobby; he has imagination in case he doesn’t know something he should. That’s what he’s writing about: what he doesn’t know. He could develop that story until he was so far inside it he didn’t notice the buxom girl sit down at his table to sip her drink, not even bothering to ask if he minds. She flaunts her body as much as she can sitting down.

What would Flaubert do? Think of Elise when he was fourteen, or Louise after Egypt. Think of the two false starts, the first “Temptation of St. Anthony,” the aborted “Sentimental Education.” You have to ride your own desire like a bus gone out of control, a cab with the driver suffering a heart attack. Otherwise, how do you keep going? It’s impossible to look up again and get into a conversation, but he does. She says her name is Jacqui. She’s the one who will name herself Zelda and call him not Scott but Dick. Maybe, he smiles to himself, she’s into the sexual side of Fitzgerald. He asks her finally. Two weeks later. Tonight he excuses himself and leaves Dylan’s to take a nap at home before answering the knock on the door somewhere between dawn and sunrise. He can’t sleep when Connie leaves. He goes out, for a long walk.

(24 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tell You What

The Crack-Up was the Fitzgerald I read closely.
Nose between the pages, between the legs . . .
which brings up Madame Bovary:
What could a mere tyro do with Emma?
Was I too young or too jaded by her jonquils?
Flaubert stayed with me longer. Fitzgerald’s
Tender Is the Night’s original was revised,
though Nicole and Dick Diver lived a circle of,
call it doom, for no linear chronology
could put their lives back on course. Thus, breakdown,
crack-up, the end before the death.
Like Bovary, The Great Gatsby was a primer.
Unlike Gatsby, Bovary’s translations
ensured no two Emmas, Charleses, Rodolfes
were ever the same. Nick Buchanan was always
telling Gatsby’s story with the same words;
it was I, the reader, who changed.
Translation opened the doors of the world.
In L’education sentimentale I thrived.
I was Frederic Moreau. Seattle
was Paris. I moved to San Francisco.
Unlike Moreau, I married my long love.
It was her legs I put my love between.
Go on, she said, I never tire.
What of the chaos in the streets?
She said, Please don’t stop. It will still be there.
She was right, power never relented.
How could I say I had found life’s supreme pleasure
in this woman’s body and supple mind . . .
But I digress, I get ahead
of my story. I’m still in Seattle,
going to college. Anna invites me
to dinner. I tell them I read and write
hoping to be the Flaubert of my day,
fearing I will die young like Fitzgerald.
Anna says, Be yourself. Paul nods. They know
one art a lifetime is ample
if you are to learn what there is to know
that lies fallow until the sound
of words send what is inside out.

(23 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Music Room

Sanchez played the snares, even walked the bass.
Paul insisted he was better on drums.
Sanchez was too proud to listen to Paul.
He played, he even practiced after class,
skipping what he called the lesser classes
to keep to the music room; I stayed too
so we could seek the feel of “Sing, Sing, Sing”
with no expectations Paul’s orchestra
could even play “Unfinished Melody,”
which both of us, if truth be known, went through
walking in our sleep. Sanchez loved Max Roach
and Charles Mingus, and I Jimmy Giuffre.
Later, I idolized Stan Getz, and Art
Pepper, yet never learned to play a sax
and quit clarinet when high school ended.
Sanchez stayed with drums even after pool
took him over. He sat in with Freddie
Schreiber on bass, Jabbo Ward on tenor
in Pete’s Poopdeck down on Alaskan Way,
known for peanut shells littering the floor.
I was in college when we went to see
Getz at the Penthouse with the Gilbertos.
Getz came late: “Had to stop by a drug store,”
and the crowd laughed along with him. Did they
recall his first bust as a teenager
with a habit in the act of robbing
a pharmacy to score a morphine fix?
Dizzy Gillespie came to the Penthouse
and we loved him, yet neither one of us
could make it when Miles Davis was in town.
They may be dead now, but who among us
could follow where they went to get inside
such sound, for we could only imitate
what we loved, but never gave up until
the night janitor cleaned the music room.
If you wanted to build your self-respect,
you must master what you would always love;
even when, emulating Fitzgerald
and Flaubert, I may never make this swing,
though it’s too soon after the music room.

(22 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, January 21, 2012

St. Clair

’s my daddy’s name. I’m one of those kids
never knew his mother. I had many.
Why I get turned on to damn near any
sweet face. I can see where it leads,
I let my eyes go softly, slowly down,
I forget I had to have a mother.

My daddy died one night in a knife fight
in the smoky room he was winning in,
cards strewn on the floor specked with Daddy’s blood,
man with the knife gone before someone
called the ambulance. Daddy’s buddy, Claude,
could not stop the blood pouring from the wounds.

I was at the bar in the New Congress
Hotel writing poems for the lovelies
in hip-high hose with their standing offer
to buy me a drink for each one I wrote
if she for whom it was written approved.
They were old enough to be big sisters.

The bartender liked to compare the place
to a Honolulu hotel James Jones
made up in From Here to Eternity.
He knew my father, Claude gave him the news.
After hours all the girls convened. They led
me back to a room where there was a bed.

No sense telling you my grief was assuaged,
though not forgotten. I knew who it was
killed my father. The cops told me. I heard
he got his. Assassinated, they say
if you’re president. But that was years off
in the future. Bloody America,

Anna said. Paul said nothing. I was there
because I knew they loved the president.
They knew all about my father’s murder.
We were watching TV. Dallas, Texas.
Saturday sometime, Ruby shoots Oswald.
Who’d know now for sure who shot Kennedy?

(21 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, January 20, 2012


If you didn’t know my name until now
it was not for lack of trying
to get my voice heard over or under
the hubbub. Tell you what: I’ll confess all
I am if you pay me like a true whore,
which I am. That and more. Give me some time.

Jim likes to call me a whore after words.
He ought to know, that’s why he hangs out here,
where we met one night at the next table,
Connie coming by to take my order
and Jim introducing me: The writer,
he called me. I said I had rent to pay.

My place is across the street. She shows up
with a gentle knock and I open up.
You know the rest. She pays the rent. I give
as good as I get and there are no strings
to pull, she has a home away from home,
I find out her red hair is real down there.

Don’t think I like the life I never owned.
I love life’s blessings, all of them women.
They gave me my first taste in the lowlands.
You could say they pimped me among their friends.
We all lived under the hill, Capitol.
We were young long before the Space Needle.

Connie says once her husband took her up
to dine with him and all his shady friends.
He pimped her out going down. He left town.
She begged off, she couldn’t be late for work.
She is my elder, though she married young.
She says the way I fuck I pimp myself.

It’s Anna keeps me coming back to school,
Latin and Shakespeare and my embouchure
Paul says needs work. Anna says, Read Browning,
he knows how to speak through other voices.
When you get around to the sax, Paul says,
your lip will feel at home with all the reeds.

(20 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, January 19, 2012


FDR died before the school took shape
in blueprint. City fathers endowed it
with a plaque: the man standing sans wheelchair.
Seattle’s mayor roared his approval.
Unfortunately for the mucky-mucks
resolutely housed on the seven hills,
Roosevelt High was too far from City
Center, in a neighborhood of riffraff,
a new pejorative in postwar times,
I quipped (I'm Bobby, I'm from the lowlands).

When the boy with the scar on his forehead
appeared, he brought with him education
in the style to which his friends would become
accustomed. He befriended Sanchez first,
who dubbed him Huerfano after he learned
Jim’s origins, father and mother killed
on one of many hairpin turns
one rainy night in the Ozark mountains.
Sanchez pointed out the girls he might like
and introduced Jim (before he became
Huerfano) to his friends Clark and Dupree.
Clark was a dapper dresser the ladies
fawned over, capable of keeping watch
over his reputation as he fell prey
to one luscious lay sweeter than the last.
Dupree was the most moxie, he knew more
of street life than Clark, better than Sanchez
at pool but willing to teach him hustling,
most crucially how to call it a night.
Sanchez was expert at naming the girls
most gifted in the art of giving head
and those who also kept you hard all night.
I kept to myself, reading and writing,
masturbating before going to sleep,
until I was seduced by a waitress,
high breasted, long legged, hips like I loved
come to life, teaching me how to fuck her
after she got off work across the street
when her boring husband was out of town.
She worked the graveyard shift, her red hair real.

Two teachers made you want to go to school.
(Roosevelt High we called FDR’s Tomb).
The man came from Portland to teach music.
(I played clarinet, coveting the sax.)
His wife came out of retirement
to teach Latin and how to read Shakespeare
and said to keep writing if you loved words.
She loved to go with husband Paul to clubs
like the Penthouse, to dives like Pete’s Poopdeck.
Anna loved Paul, who loved Anna and jazz.

(19 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Huerfano, Sanchez calls him.
Sanchez knows only the Spanish
he learned right after he was born
in Seattle, where it is snowing now.
Half a foot a year and here’s
two feet in no time.
Huerfano, Sanchez says,
Give me a ride downtown.
Sanchez hustles pool.
Huerfano will never retire.
They are both too old to score.
Sanchez has no squeeze,
Marge was always Huerfano’s,
her body still streamlined
all these years later after stir.
She rides along with them.
First she paints her nails,
mascaras her eyes, rouge
and lipstick thick. Marge was
very good at what she used to do.
She and Huerfano sit a while
watching Sanchez, who wins
the first match. He likes to growl
while he walks around, sizing up
a shot. Huerfano steals away
with Marge. They go see his pal,
who calls himself Cherokee.
He’s as white as a gringo, Sanchez
insists on otherwise rainy days.
Cherokee is on crutches, he has
little to say, won’t talk about why
he’s this way, and Marge teases,
You musta hustled some guy’s girl.
She knows he’s gay (we used to say
fairy), she likes to put him on,
it’s sport for Marge who fucks
with abandon still, her going rate
bottoming out with her age
advancing. Cherokee has a gig
playing The Golden Lion,
female impersonator
charming a live python,
letting it wrap around his neck,
stripping until some mac shouts
a warning, and the act
begins to end.
Huerfano bids him good luck
and they go
to collect Sanchez in time
to talk him out of risking debt
to recoup his losses for the day.
On the drive to Everett
Marge sits with Sanchez
in the back seat.
He must have a few bills left,
she kisses Huerfano bye bye
and tells him when to pick her up,
Sanchez thanks him and they go
to do what she still does best.
Huerfano goes home alone,
but not for long. The landlady’s
home. She pours him a drink.
Huerfano tells her how years
go by and nothing changes.
She says, How ’bout this weather?
Perfect segue to start the clock
paying down the rent.

(18 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Old Days

He had started walking early enough
not to get lost before dark fell
over and between the great trees
dripping with what was left of the day’s fog,
the sound of waves lapping the shore
to one side, branches crackling, birds crying,
tremors underfoot that were not his,
the sound of breathing not wholly his own,
and here he was, arriving home,
looking through the open window
wondering who she was sat by the fire,
then tried the door, locked, but opening
inward, stepping through, taking the hand
soft as he remembered her lips with his.

(17 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, January 16, 2012

Queen Anne Hill

Cathleen’s mother liked to watch ships below
from the window, alone, the house high up.
They lived on Alki, level with the water,
then they moved to the top of Queen Anne Hill.

So much rain falls on these poems
they sag with the weight of water.
She asked what I was doing. I said, This.
She said, It doesn’t sound very finished.

Cathleen’s mother, then Cathleen. Love’s skein wound
too tight, I would not go, the ne’er do well.
Cathleen’s father asked me, How do you plan
to make a living, writing poetry?

Cathleen told me she must go, and was gone
many years. One year, then two, count to three.
There’s no point in keeping time in poems
I won’t sell or destroy. I give them space.

Marilyn Jones worked with me the night shift.
She lived with her mother on Queen Anne Hill.
Her mother was ill when they were in Spain.
Marilyn sent me a book of Lorca.

She wrote, Mother is feeling no better.
I want to turn over in bed and dream
my body wakes in Andalucia.
I settle for flamenco in the street.

Once she was home she moved to Lake Union
with her cat, Isis. Marilyn woke late.
She was in bed with Isis when I came
on Sunday. Isis left. I hunkered in.

It wasn’t a bad life. I had my tools
with me wherever I went and used them
to bring up what had been buried too long
somewhere. She was voluptuous, her sense

of humor melting the ice around us
when I grew too fast in her company
–or so I thought, and she concurred: Go on,
drive my car, have a ball up on Queen Anne.

Wrecking ball. Jackhammer. Her mother died,
she buried her below. I had the run
of the house I knew was not yet empty.
I found flowers rooted in Spain, Egypt,

roots I knew nothing of and let them be.
She liked to set flowers out to catch rain.
She said, The old joke, dig deep and you reach
China, was no joke. I was eleven,

big for my age. My father and mother
were missionaries in Shanghai.
It was when the revolution was on.
One side kidnaped me. I was gone for days.

They made me open my eyes, climbed on me
until I passed out. I was awakened
to watch them cut off heads. I screamed. They laughed.
One day the door opened. I loved to feel

the sun, Marilyn said. Come live with me
on the lake, you’ve been up there long enough.
So much rain falls on these poems
they sag with the weight of water.

That was all I wrote. I left town to work.
There were no jobs for me in Seattle.
No one wanted me digging up their past.
Even Queen Anne was too near the water.

(16 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Seattle Archaeological Site

How many times have you lifted me from
my own hell? The backwater contagions
I played so earnestly in theaters
off-stage. Maladies of cities, women
seduced by my life’s impossible tale.
You found me in time to spare me from death
in alleys throwing bones I didn’t wait
to add, your gypsy feet ready to leave,
my little thick love stick throbbing to be
in your furry wet wagon with horses
for legs. Now when I say my life should go
live in another town, some Gomorrah
ruled by Sodom’s sons wielding loaded guns,
you step between me and self-destruction.

How many times? You give me back the life
a half century held out to be lived.
The ducks lining the plank from shore to boat
moved deftly away. You said, Don’t scare them,
they have as much right to be here as we,
and once inside, we went with the high waves
spilling over the boardwalk of your thighs,
but no, we did not last then or the next
time, too many men, too many women
entering this house on a lake before
you paid for what I sold you, the money
you thought you could turn into love and be
happy, you had the wagon, the horses
were everywhere, I was never alone.

Say this life has too many turns to count,
you can grow dizzy following each one
to completion. There’s only one you find
worth the sally into oblivion.
You like my looks and think I’m funny.
I love your beauty, your mellifluous lips
that always bring me back from death’s back door,
your olive skin with its barklike texture,
your bright smile, body were always mine
no matter how many temporary
lovers auditioned for your next movie.
I never wanted to act, no talent,
no desire to do anything but this
ancient form that can say more than it means.

Why not spell it out? The sea-level lives
were never anything but work for he
who was raped by a nun with a jones for
brothers, wound up down here on the first street
he walked upon that would not lead him off
the path where midnight could turn into gold-
backed coins ample to pay the rent and eat,
all for loving men after the bars closed.
The orphan who raised himself on these streets,
sitting in front of the doors that opened
and took him in until he stole too much
and found a girl who had always wondered
if turning a lover into a pimp
would earn for her prince a blue Cadillac.

The orphan believed I should meet Shakespeare.
He was writing a Hamlet for black men.
His Othello was a white boy jealous
of wife Ophelia who, word was, roamed
nights with Iago, who said he pimped her . . .
I was a boy in Minneapolis,
the bard of bottomless America
began telling me. That was his story,
I went where he led and the orphan too,
below the street where after hours they danced,
the Globe stage too far off, too late to see.
The orphan said to me, Now you know what
the city prefers to bury. No need
to dig where you will strike only water.

(15 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, January 14, 2012

North / South

The tortured air swarms with murder.
If you go south to live, take gun and knife.
The Cuetzalan machete’s blade is dull,
hanging on the wall with mask, chicken foot,
and aging photos from New Orleans.

Her teacher told Cathleen, Again you find
yourself living in Indian country:
Pay heed! She smiles. Such advice from a friend
in New Mexico, our Massachusetts
sanctuary, we didn’t want to move
to Minnesota. We came for money
to pay our bills in old age, and found here
Red Lake, in whose St. Mary’s Mission Church
we make music for mass. To the Irish
priest Patrick Sullivan I confess love
for more-than-holy Oscar Romero
(killed by assassins moving through the line
of poor people taking the sacrament
and even God could not save their Father),
and sacred-among-poets Ernesto
Cardenal (denounced by the last, dead pope,
but vows there is greater work to be done
than giving communion, and the new pope
is like the old). Cathleen’s father was named
for the Irish martyr Robert Emmett,
and Father Sullivan likes to comment
on St. Patrick’s Day how the Ojibwe
and Irish must have a lot in common
with their shared disdain for being kept down,
then he mourns the death of so many young
in Red Lake, whose old also die too soon,
and in Bemidji store clerks follow them
with their hooded eyes, self-appointed hawks
like the law’s wide wings that provide shelter
by filling local cells with savages–

ay! Dios mio, where are You now life
is more fragile: Why not make Mejico
a little safer, give a good night’s sleep
to the denizens of New Orleans:
Paz a los pueblos de las americas!

(14 January 2012)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, January 13, 2012

Elliptical Life


More die from old age.
If the rubber gloves of death are velvet,
at least it is no living death.
Still, what difference would there be . . .
Who could know what happens after . . .
A lifetime later miracles begin:
for me the patience to listen,
for you the room to teach.
Give me rein. I love to ride if you love
me to. Is that being even . . .

If love is miracle it's that only
through living with love's mystery,
with no need to know for certain,
no words to tell what quickens life
before it ends. And who would want to know . . .
For whom would I speak if I did . . .
Are there words that would weave a spell
nothing human is known to do . . .
And without questions,
what answers . . . Horses transport the coffin.
Are our lives filled in by dots with spaces
between . . . Their hooves were muffled beforehand,
they gave passage into silence.


The Garden of Eden we invented.
We needed to make a home the Master
would believe was His only.
He had to try to slay the serpent once
His excessive pride was violated.
She had named the animals, all
Eve saw surrounding her while Adam slept.
Then she saw one more. Were Adam awake
he would know the snake lay between his legs.
They heard the Master shout, Be gone!
Learn to die while living with pain,
earning nothing I don't give you!
Thus the I became inviolable.

In the land of Nod
the unhappy son murdered his brother.
The Master meted out His crass justice:
The mark on Cain’s brow,
promise of resurrection for Abel.
Adam and Eve kept on working.
How could the Master love His slaves
once He lost control . . .
Why would slaves ask . . .
They are human, not He.

(13 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Mill Run River

We were living not so far inland as now.
The housing was rundown but plentiful.
Jobs were only beginning to grow scarce.
The new war arrived in the wake of the old.
Poor men poled rafts along Mill Run River.
Returning home the current lay behind.

I do not know how they could keep going.
It took a week to walk to where they lived.
There we found a woman who was dying.
It seemed to her she worked from dawn to dawn.
Her man found money when leaves blew away.
When coins weighed his pockets he left her home.

They were no family, there was no child.
Townspeople sneered when they saw him coming.
Once his supplies were aboard the raft,
he bought a jug of cheap wine to drink down.
He passed the night with a wretched woman
who shared what he had in exchange for warmth.

You remember as well as I our work
was listening. The silence came later
once we heard them out. Then we walked the week
back home. After the woman died he came
here to haunt the indignant town. He walked
until he fell silent where his words were.

Later I remembered all he said once
remembering his youth in a city
where he sat on a stoop drinking Paisano,
eating sourdough, attending to strangers
he put in books no one but his love read.
She believed in him. She kept him alive.

(12 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Left Over Winter

When the sky turns Christ on you, the wind bleeds
a saint’s knees, here’s no earth two feet can walk.
There’s that light on the road to Damascus
for you. Paul’s new shill. Slavery gone to seed
though he knows he can put experience
to good use, or rather ill. The rain falls
alike on your sweet, your pernicious talk.

They had been sitting on the balcony
talking, drinking the wine of Rapallo.
One of them would die with Hitler’s rise,
his friend when Vietnam began to end.
It was ten years after the armistice
of gas, barbed wire, brother against brother.
That had been called the war to end all war.

They discussed poetry as tragedy.
The self and its other. Opposition,
Blake said, is true friendship. Who believed it?
Phantoms inhabited the marketplace
below. There was no going back. Hate thrived.
Though they hung Mussolini upside down,
the people went on starving one by one.

Nothing can happen. The stars have no light
left over. There is no resurrection.
Every country has its own soul’s passage
carved in the origins of mortal speech.
There is no hope even if there are words
that mean what it is to die without hope.
There is only this commerce between us.

(11 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sex and Death,

Yeats said, were the most important
subjects, mysteries he refused
to fear. When he reached the summit
of his powers old age desired
a mate. It was Georgie Hyde-Lees
shared her body in his bed. She
married the poet as he aged,
Maud Gonne a memory of youth.
Georgie recited in her sleep
history’s turbulent lessons.
She was a wife to perfection.
She too walked among schoolchildren
dancing until they were the dance.
When Yeats sailed to Byzantium
she was there to see the fish leap
in rivers flowing to the sea.
She heard Crazy Jane tell the bishop
why love is made near the body’s
back door. She witnessed all the wraiths
conspiring to keep him working,
his flesh bone weary yet adored.

(10 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, January 9, 2012

Proving Ground

The regimen involves eight hours a day,
the hands more than the feet, the old contrast
between thought and motion, but it’s no way
to grow old, let me tell you: Give up art.

The mind can’t handle the pressures of love.
What can a body do, it doesn’t have
staying power, an old man’s razzmatazz.
What is music now if it can’t be jazz . . .

All the smart made-up rhymes, the make believe
conjuring act, lies to engender love.
There’s always one word you may trip over,
you know what it is, no need to wonder.

Think of art as a way of life, or death.
More stumble when they don’t know the word soul,
they confiscate and lock up the laurel
the precious few would change into a wreath.

It’s the sound of things they teach you. You learn
the lesson well, but you still fail to see . . .
In that enormous, sun-basked world they warn
you, Tell the truth, stay alive, never lie.

Here we are awakened too early now
to do anything but what we are told.
You have created in your sun-crazed mind
what you were told from the first you can’t know.

And now you come to the most difficult
passage. This may be where all gates clang shut.
That’s how it looks when you are lost at sea.
You know where you are but you don’t know why.

What you hear never helps if you can’t see.
When an ocean becomes your proving ground,
look where you’re going. Watch out: a big wave
can undo the breath and the body shut down

the mind. Which is not mental. You need this
unthinking pleasure you considered loss
when you were so young reveille was taps,
when art became a petty thing, mere dross.

Now comes the hard part, your Humpty Dumpty
restoration project, no wall in sight,
no men, no horses, just your paltry art
to mend cracks, or pulverize. Choose the way

and here you take the other side. That way
goes underground: where once it was a street
now it’s open ground, where sea used to be,
a city. Don’t lie. It’s not day but night.

(9 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Painting Music

He was a Sunday painter, Donald J.
Bonnington, M.D. He recommended
Thomas Wolfe’s “The Story of a Novel.”

Only writer he knew was Tom Dooley,
the Jungle Doctor his country called him,
Asians Doctor America.

Wolfe’s story of his Look Homeward, Angel,
was most likely meant to tell me what toil
I was in for, jolt me to consciousness.

When Bonnington mentioned Dooley, I thought
of the song of a twenty-two year old
hung for the murder of his fiancee

in North Carolina, where Wolfe came from
to die in New York the year I was born.
My grandmother’s father was from those hills,

routed out and herded west by soldiers.
He took a white man’s name, sired three children
with a Scots woman: my father’s mother’s

mother and the sister who mothered her
when her mother died and father left her
to go away to be free of his grief,

and a brother once among the richest
men in Fort Smith, Arkansas, his name
still in the sidewalk where his saloon was.

The novel I wrote remains unfinished.
It concerns my father’s matriarchal
manhood after his daddy was murdered.

I turned to a story Bonnington read,
called “Disappearances in Seattle.”
With my approval, he took it upstairs

where the head doctors sat in a circle
and asked if I knew a man named Roethke.
Does he write? Yes, among his other lives.

When spring came I was free to go. Irene was
still living in our town. We fucked. I worked.
I wrote. The notes from my expedition

were clear, I had learned only what was known.
No farm boy lived in Seattle who was
not transformed to dwell thereafter only

in cities. My orphaned friend disappeared
into prison long after a childhood
on the street, then stealing, pimping, pushing.

She who waited tables on graveyard shift,
and happy only when her husband was
out of town, disappeared with randy men:

we shared our beds with wild, unhappy wives.
Cathleen, whom I loved, would never marry
until she could bring with her a dowry

and disappear in this so-called city
where she plays piano with notes I put
to paper. She calls it painting music.

(8 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dark in the City

Under a broad sky
with both feet falling,
head swayed, ears open,
that young heart broken,
crazed and unable
to sleep with so much
left to do before
turning twenty-two:
learn to let words go
through my ten fingers
and find those that move
and then go beyond
what they said, I knew
nothing immortal,
how I knew I was
human, like all those
on elevators.
I remembered birth
imagining death,
kept it to myself
(old voices echoed)
so it would be where
I could find it when
the time came to talk
but keep the secret.
I was in search of
the first metaphor
memory would yield
and so my mother
loved my father’s hair,
his hair was so black
it turned white before
his death when hers, red,
tinged with auburn, died
. . . chalaqui and eire
those ancestors
were. In the city
the first time I turned
a corner and found
where rain all winter,
spring and autumn fell,
where summers were gone
over the mountains
before my mind fell
into my body,
my two hands reached down
to bring to surface
all I first knew
to take to the fall
when the door opened.

(7 January 2011)

Friday, January 6, 2012


The way you think,

The way you speak,

The way you walk,

The way you love,

The way you pray,

The way you sleep,

The way you wake.

Why stop walking

The seven hills,

The streets below

To hear the talk

That will decay.

So much ground

To cover, so much

To excavate,


Be glad now

You started young,

You did not waste

Time waiting

For permission,

Learning rules

Quick to vanish.

What was the tool

Of choice,

Why trouble

To rouse the dead

Only to know

What happened

Was devoured

By mountains.

Dreams do keep

A body sleeping.

Is that you still

Digging, brushing,

Going back over

To uncover

What’s never lost

(6 January 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Emily and Jim

Who knows secrets except in retrospect
consigns their knowledge to oblivion,
even when secrets are no longer secret.
Everyone knew after it happened
why it happened.

She told him she was carrying his child.
In the letter her hand made words perfect
in the cursive the nuns taught.
Her English left out
words unnecessary in Spanish.

He left immediately, drove all night,
gassed up, kept going, bent
upon being with her.
No matter he was AWOL, he loved her
with his whole soul.

She heard the news a day later.
She sobbed in the house, on the street,
in the doctor’s office, and the long hours
grew longer.
One priest, then another, warned her, Keep it!

Irene stayed by her, night and day.
She said Emily would harm herself
if left alone.
After the burial she miscarried.
There would be no consolation.

These words are bones once blessed with flesh.
Two lives lost to the beloved,
who, God knows, would love again, if God
was the God priests asked
us to bow our heads to ask His blessing.

In mass Irene and I prayed our bodies be one.
We made love to make it so.
And where did love go
when I went to the city to learn a trade
to which I proved unsuited . . .

(5 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


O I have no desire to go back home
now that it’s gone, the rooms upstairs empty
where I watched so many horses crop grass
below the window, where no one made love
until years later I brought Cathleen there
all the way from San Francisco. Irene
came to the house to sit in the kitchen
where she helped my father practice Spanish
his friend from the farm labor camp taught him.
My father loved Irene, my mother too,
Jess Maltos may have had a crush on her
but he never said more than he could smile
saying. She talked Spanish and he talked back,
the mole on her cheek moving with the smile
she smiled when he turned to me and asked how
to say in Latin what they were saying,
and I begged off. After dinner Jess said
he had a date. Irene and I drove off
to the drive-in movie in Sunnyside.
The Thing from Another World was playing
with a western called Hellfire that moved slow
but turbulently to its redemptive
conclusion, Wild Bill Elliott praying
over the dance hall girl Marie Windsor
dying before the screen was filled with flames
and one word, Amen, replaced two, The End.
I’d seen it first with Mary Lou Larson
in the theater next to the bowling
alley downtown. When the movie ended
I drove her home to Cherry Hill. She said,
Take me to the Horse Heavens, I’ll show you
something. She was very pretty, her skin
a nut brown, creamy. She knew more than I,
she was waiting to quit school when she'd put
in her time. In her last year, I learned why
she had the desk in front of mine, turning
to see the latest horse I was drawing.
She described to me how horses mated.
She used risque words for stallions and mares
making future colts. People are like that,
she said, I like to do it when I'm home,
when I’m not here chasing after mustangs.
She recommended God’s Little Acre,
she showed me the book hidden in her desk.
I recall the smell of smoke on her breath.
She looked like Tina Louise in the film.
Her cousins said Mary Lou loves us all,
her brother too. I don’t know what was true.
Jim dated her when he worked construction.
He drove heavy equipment. Overtime
was what he wanted. Mary Lou waited
for Jim in the Granger no-name pool hall,
smoking cigarettes. But that was later.
The Thing was tame. Irene wanted to go.
Neither one of us was watching the screen
by now. Back then Mary Lou said Hellfire
was the worst western she’d seen: Take me up
to the Hills and out where the mustangs are.
She did show me something. After Irene
started taking me to Sunnyside mass,
Jim rode to Toppenish with Mary Lou
in her pickup. They drove on to Brownstown,
where Rita mixed her drinks while he drank Cokes
watching the drunks beat each other bloody.
He never rode horses. I drew horses
because I loved horses before women.
Until Irene. Don’t get me wrong, I loved
Mary Lou before Jim, but not the way
he loved her. Schoolboys learning to love girls:
no one cared. Adults came to see Jim play
on frosty autumn nights, under the lights.
My father was there the night we both starred.
My mother feared I would get hurt. I played
one year after Mary Lou disappeared
into marriage. Jim was seeing Elaine
naked in the pool at her father’s house.
Then Irene brought Emily Esquivel
into his life. When I think about what
happened later, I can’t talk about it
without breaking down, so God damned mortal.

(4 January 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Don't Know

How could you know us without the other
saying what it was like from over there?
Out of two hundred too few ever loved.
They held their rallies with the brass present
to keep things calm when voices erupted
in a blood lust some said resembled war.
We rose and spoke one at a time, the crowd
stomping the boards, banging their useless desks.
The cheerleaders cheered . . . but nobody knew
Nijinsky could leap higher than Preston,
who loved boys and Patsy, the sex goddess
of Granger High–even their folks were tight.
Patsy called herself Pat. She was quiet.
She rarely smiled, then only with Preston,
who specialized in forbidden stories.
When they were children they read Tijuana
Bibles and she practiced her moves on him.
If Pat could mesh with Preston’s libido,
who among boys who wanted to be men
could resist her coal-black hair, kohl-dark eyes,
and the way she not only looked but fucked,
crazy for Jim but in love with Marvin,
the basketball star, whose daddy was one
of Granger’s wild men wanting to be boys
again, playing music Saturday nights
at the Circle Inn, Jim and Priscilla
dancing like young lovers while their son slept.
Or so they thought. He was a virgin when
Pat took him with her rouged skin, lacquered nails,
staying under, over, by him as long
as he stayed awake. She taught him to please
Mary Lou, Elaine, Emily . . . who knows
the names of women he loved in football
colleges wooing him with scholarships,
lovelies who could not resist this body
all muscle over bone. So Irene said
Emily told her. Emily loved Jim.
Irene swore Mexican women could love
gringo men who were soft under hard shells.

(3 January 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, January 2, 2012

Where I Was

It’s a treachery, such progress.
Footfalls and all.
When did my fathers and mothers
rise off their four-footed haunches;
when did yours,
or did they . . .

The way sorghum is sold
you take it to town.
The boys’ job.
You rock in your chair,
Mama, smoke your pipe, dip snuff,
boil dinner on the wood stove,

dress the girls in case the preacher
takes a notion to show his face.
Why would I try dreaming up
the way I took my walks
through the mountains with blue haze
older than I will get to be,

she asks. Her rheumatism
keeps her down and cross.
If she takes her time,
if she can get past the pain,
she motions to the window, says,
I want to show you where I was.

(2 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, January 1, 2012


A book, a poem, a scribble . . .
hack away with this axe you wield
with no mercy until death’s door
opens. In dark snow with silence
swirling. Your three sisters went in
and never came out. You survive
for nothing but this endless work
sledging, ripping, tearing apart
such grip. Measure and spoon, serve cold
without skin that taints raw power:

in memoriam, Franz Kafka

(1 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander