In bed with the blonde girl in her trailer.
She says, Why don’t we go to Altamont?
I don’t say I work, no time or money,
or the fur from your cat is everywhere,
and a woman I loved more than I knew
until she left me, you’re not even close
to taking her place, you’re a one-night roll
and I’m a drunken fool, I should be gone
before I turn my ire upon myself
again. That was Pullman in the sixties,
when the six turned to a seven and I
was soon gone. When the one I loved left me
I quit working. I smoked a lid a day
in the two-story house bereft of her
beauty and its corporeal shadow.
The day she left she said she would come back.
When she did she knew I would never change.
We kissed and held each other close but no
cats were around any longer, I took
those left alive–one bloody fur in dirt
from the flywheel when I started the car,
the other flung by a German Shepherd
from the door into the alley, dead there,
neck limp, Icarus fallen to his death–
took the living to a dark trailer court
to roam and find a child who might love them.
They once purred after we made love, they knew
about love, that’s how they came to be there.
They were our Daedalus building the maze
we called a labyrinth. I knew them all,
the minotaur and he who pursued it
as the thread unraveled behind each step,
knowing my son’s wings would melt in the sun.
I was Orestes, reading Aeschylus,
with my sister Electra avenging
our mother’s murder of Agamemnon,
Clytemnestra reaping the Furies' wrath.
My wife, my lover, my reason to love,
my heart, our sudden romance turned to stone,
I fell into intellectual swoon,
writing in half light, drinking in the dark,
passing out, reading, talking through the night
with the drunken intellectuals
until the night came of the day you left.
Slivered almonds on a bed of brown rice,
orange juice, water with marijuana,
and at Jack’s house after Philosophy,
continuing to rehearse Vallejo’s
prophecy of the Thursday he would die,
back from Spain and what was there to live for?
Thinking of that morning before all this
when you woke to Betty’s name on my lips
and were sitting in front of the window
rocking and smoking, O how much you hurt . . .
I remembering dreaming love's murder;
and on Jack’s lawn, his silver-haired wife Ruth
happy to share the philosopher’s house,
telling me Portnoy was her favorite,
she reread it when she needed to laugh,
while Jack was reading metaphysicians
who permitted their lives to intertwine,
and sitting there with him in the high grass
I pulled off the ring Betty cast for me
after marriage and I threw it as far
as the Altamont Speedway I did not
visit, even though the murder that night
on the Maysles’ film looped a memory
in slow motion until that Labor Day
in the Mission Beach alley I looked him
in the eye and he must have known I was
seeing the knife rise and fall into flesh
whose freeze-frame black skin held the gun aloft;
Blanche Craig telling me how her brother sat
in the Selma jail waiting to hear dogs
begin snarling, barking, the hoses rip
whatever stood in the way of water’s
blast throwing you to the ground; and out there
that day he walked beside the white lady
from Detroit he would never see alive
after that day; and here I was in Hell
where the Angel took the plate from his mouth
saying, You want to fuck with people now,
I’m here, and behind him his fallen crew
congregated, beginning their vigil.
(18 December 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander