He can take no more the thick haze of sound,
the dank smell of underground pools,
the stars indistinct in the city’s sky,
and his own eyes sore from rubbing. No sleep;
otherwise he would have been late.
Where Huerfano and his Marjorie live,
Bobby rides the bus, walks to get his legs,
a little numb from the jerky starting
and stopping on the way here. He’s in need.
Huerfano Jim opens the door. "Come in, Bobby,
we’re reading Sophocles." "Jocasta here?"
Marge emerges in her transparent wrap.
The air’s cold. He imagines her nipples
growing taut. He’s a horned toad. She knows it.
She tells Jim where she’s going, but no need
to say why . . . He quips, "Won’t you be too cold?"
"Where do you want to go?" she asks Bobby.
"You name it, I’m game." She replies: "I’m glad,
I haven’t had a date I enjoyed since our last.
Trust me," she adds. They walk to a motel.
Vacuous. Nowhere. One bed big enough,
but the sheets wrinkled, even stained.
He always likes the way she takes her time,
nor does she always accept his money.
She says her body never tires, but why push it?
Jim has his trust-fund money, his baby
blue Cadillac convertible, their place
off Ravenna, his dope, his friends who score
for him. "Why shouldn’t I have a good time?"
Bobby, come here," she motions him to bed.
Later, at Christina’s, he mimicks the voices.
She loves to laugh as he puts on his show.
He plays Lenny Bruce: "Did you cum, did you
cum good?" . . . She says, "Why don’t I be Honey?"
"You mean strip?" "No, Bobby, I want to fuck."
He’s going to sleep well tonight with her.
They seem happy enough. He asks about
his mother: "Did you know her?" "Yes, I did
meet her, when Danny took you back to live
with us." She’s said it all before, and will again.
He likes to hear her say how beautiful he was.
You still go when you want. She doesn’t want
to hold you here, you have the bungalow
and La Iglesia de La Puta.
She rolls over, pulls him on top of her
and loves him again . . . Christina
he loves like the man he could be someday,
if becoming that way is not just talk.
When rain starts falling he finds a café
and is sipping hot chocolate
when in comes a band of the boys
in jackets flying their colors, and keys
ringing against their belt-looped chains.
If you’re a big boy like them, the bikers
nod hello to you, like life is not death
because brothers take nothing for granted
that is not next door to nada.
After eating his midnight huevos rancheros,
he saunters on. A young woman approaches him.
Her name is Paula and her eyes are like the moon,
that kind of light. He knows she’s high,
but so what? He asks her where she’s going,
she says Home, he asks, Where? She shows him how
to take her there and tells him at the door,
You can’t come up, my man’s here, he’s jealous
(she hesitates), but I want to be free.
She gives him her phone, the innocent way
they did that then; and the rain is nothing now,
wind blowing mist in from the bay.
She is beautiful, more beautiful than any
of his beloved . . . Cathleen, and Katya,
but he knows he will never again see Katya:
her radiance, her quick mind, her body’s ballet . . .
Paula is about to go through the door.
He knows he will call her, he has no choice:
He is in love, four blocks with her and he loves her,
her grace, her humor; how her body curves
is his joy, her middle name . . . and he thinks,
So what if she’s high, I’m Irish, maybe
I can come back to life. One never knows.
He hopes she might kiss him goodnight,
but she’s through the door, touching his hand and saying,
Bobby, thanks. When’s best to call you? he asks.
Any time, she answers, stopped on a stair.
Good night, he calls as he watches her climb,
though the window needs to be washed.
He loves her sailor’s walk. His daddy taught him that.
By day Danny would tell him of his navy stint,
before the night came with work to be done
at a hostile table, among the four-flushers.
He turns and goes, still feeling her presence,
whereupon he does a little skip in his head . . .
In love, he’s happy, that’s all this is: happiness.
And he doesn’t even know why it was
his first sight of her coming toward him on the street
made him want to ask, Where are you going?
and she said, laughing, I seem to be lost . . .
just stepped out for a pack of cigarettes
and now I can’t remember my way home,
not right now anyway, could you help me,
walk me home? I’m going all wrong,
I must live the way you are walking. Take me there?
Gladly, he said, touching her elbow. She helped him
keep his head, warning him not to cross against lights,
asking him to tell her his story. And he was
never happier before nor ever again.
He wanted to tell her how his life led to hers
and all he knew about himself for sure.
(23 May, 5 June 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander