Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How I Learned What I Know

I was sleeping when my daddy came in
and turned me over on my back
and put his whatever-he-called-it in.
I was too young to say the word no.
He was my daddy, I had no mommy.
She was what he needed. I knew
what he poured in me was meant for her.
When I got older, I thanked God–
you never know if He’s really here–
Thank you, God, for sending me away
and keeping me safe from the animals
who look so much like my daddy
I want to lie down on the street and cry.
Thank God I started to forget him
after I turned myself out.
All my daddys gave me money.
I stashed the bills in my two bra cups
to show my friends over coffee.
When I started loving Gerry Beasley,
he said he knew he could make me fly.
I never objected, I was no nun.

(30 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, April 29, 2013


Is this how it ends?
With nothing but human love learned on streets,
and learned then only
to tap the soul where love’s human milk flows,
then find an island
to practice the art of human kindness.
No, it does not end,
this unquenchable need to be human.

The little whore Angel, his only love,
she who harbored him when he was dying,
levitates before navigating clouds,
but no Icarus she, keeping the sun
high above. Better than riding ferries.
Light on the Needle to search out lost souls.

In the city Angel works the magic
Beasley taught her, himself reader of books
who fancies himself a writer of them.
There is manna between her folding wings.
It is root and seed of No Man’s Island
sent to the city to flower and bloom.

How new love begins:
bread on the plate, parceling the vino
in an open theater where voices
are their own horns and keys making music,
sanctuary of venery and lust
igniting hearts Angel stirs with her own.

There is a tree planted in the garden
and already flourishing when she leaves
the city. There are stories she learned there
she will tell now as though she were a child.

(29 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, April 28, 2013

By the Book

He took her under one wing.
She was his daughter now,
no more blow jobs in the alley.
He’d stick with the other
woman, his first, last,
and only incest between,
if you believed they needed that.
He didn’t give a shit
what the sanctimonious thought.
All he knew was what happened.
As for the other wing,
he’d let the spirit take flight.

Without a body what were you?
Magic wouldn’t get you by.
You had needs. You were stuck
where you were
only yourself.

I have to say this at least once:
I was most happy after a book
let me in on the secret of its art.

(28 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tentative Casting

So skip the shipwreck? and jettison why
the magus’s bane happens to find him
where he took his books of magical arts
with his daughter, her mother dead or gone
to bed down with rotten nobility
who flushed him out and offered asylum
on this island he shares with a savage
he taught to say God damn you and Fuck you,
so this witch’s son confined to a cage
believes is what magic is meant to do.

For Ariel Beasley may choose Jacqui,
whose youth is deceiving now that her legs
open to beckon the magus’s wand,
for her sex would welcome what’s not offered.
Or is Jacqui Miranda? Who would know
if not the man with a ring in one ear?
Beasley is the bard of his own island;
therefore assumes the role of Prospero.
And Caliban? Who else but Dee is fit
to be not only cannibal but slave?

Black Prospero names Jacqui Miranda;
Angel will be his only Ariel.
Poor Dee, enraged, longs to be free to roam
this island that was his before the cage.
Will anyone here ever be happy?
Prospero’s old tormentors have arrived
on the ferry from the coastal city
hired to bring them here to torture his wand
into spitting venom their pores suck in,
knowing not even death lasts forever.

(27 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, April 26, 2013


The boat was coming into view.
You could see it had no flag.
. . . No, that would not work.
Go to the heart of the island.
Forget about the preliminaries.
Start off with Prospero
and daughter Miranda,
the caged Caliban; 
then bring in Ariel,
not to be confused with another
Ariel, Sylvia Plath’s; the boat
was from Naples, not London.

He was writing to himself,
as always. That’s what’s hard,
he thought, having two voices
at least, if not three or four
or sometimes an entire crowd
in your head at the same time.
If someone knocked or entered,
you froze momentarily,
then kept on after crying out,
Come in! You continued.
Whoever entered stayed
until you finished, or left.

Today he would go back to read
Shakespeare again, the last
great play. Then he would think
of creating his equivalents,
he called them. They were of
that island he could call Hell,
but wouldn’t. That was like
resenting your station in life,
putting your head in an oven,
letting those who stay behind
take the rap for your actions.
That was no equivalent.

(26 April 2013) 

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Life

He hated to see this, he didn’t get out much now but when he did he remembered how it was at night and he emerged only during the day. Now, in daylight, when he was stopped by a young girl asking if he’d like to have a date, he had to look twice to wonder how old she was and then to say no. He couldn’t understand why he was surprised. Had he been inside that long? He’d lived here years on end, Angel was like a daughter to him when they first met, and the kids were always out here selling their budding little bodies for next to nothing. It made him fucking sick, still. But now he found himself intrigued; anyway, who was he to be the moralist? He’d sold his ass for years. He was a whore even now–the body and the money were equivalents here, objects of capital exchange in action . . . We are model entrepreneurs, he thought, at any age. No unions needed. The cops, or pimps, would bust them up anyway.

He was walking on, dreaming of Marx, Engels, and prostitution, when he reconsidered and retraced his steps, asking her how much, paying her what he knew was bottom dollar for a turn in the alley. She swallowed. He took her for a walk, telling her how he got into the business. He liked to think there could be brothels here since there had been whorehouses in Seattle in the old days, the local Indian women and the white girls shipped in from out of town. He believed in brothels for the girls. The boys were outlaws like the girls who made it with other girls. In a house there was no need for pimps, only madams and the men they hired to keep order. She said she had no pimp. He told her to watch out. When he left he knew her name, Jacqui, and her age: she looked sixteen but said she was twenty. He didn’t know the life now, not like he had when he was out here every night after the day with the typewriter.

He went to the café to see Dee, who wasn’t there; he slept days usually, was out all night: no wonder he was mistaken for a ghost. Beasley wondered how he could keep going like he did. He read Poe and talked about him endlessly . . . when he talked. From “Annabel Lee” to Eureka, “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and the unfinished Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. When Dee was up to a talk, he rambled endlessly about Poe’s life and times, his poems and prose. In his room, Dee had the complete works, purchased when he was a boy diving deeper each year into himself until he found his metier, the world of Poe, and for him there was no other. Once Beasley tried to interest him in Shakespeare, reading to him the sonnet “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,” following it with “The expense of spirit in a waste of shame.” Dee preferred the first one, considering the second too judgmental.

(25 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Night Work

sure go do what you can to get what we need,
the bars are closing, drunks need attending to,
take my smokes, all of them, I should give them up

and she high-heeled briskly through the door
gussied up and painted in the usual places,
lipstick colors to give johns their money’s worth,

he didn’t want to die, but why not get it over,
he needed to be on his feet and stay there
as long as his legs would balance his body,

he played old LPs, Stan Kenton’s Cuban Fire,
Erroll Garner’s album Concert by the Sea,  
he listened to the big band, the solo piano,

and hoped he would go on living a little longer,
he would like to write a Tempest before he quit,
make his mark with magic, Prospero and Ariel:

she wakes me, she’s thrilled and all, and as usual
pulls the dollar bills from the nest in her bra
she never takes off outside, she has her own style

(24 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


He never knew her name, she went by her street name
and that was fine with him as long as she answered.
Sure, baby, there are bad times we couldn’t get through
fast enough, you call me a snob and I, You whore,
and we stay away from home as long as it takes
to find and pick up the pieces of the puzzle,
then leave them where we put them and go back to bed
ice cold, pretty soon hot, well, you know how it goes,
you’ve been around and back and I’ve indulged my part
of the street and you don’t go past this place or that,
our lives are spliced forever between our gone flesh
with its pockets sagging weary of the life lost
fucking around and letting the johns come on in 
and stay as long as it takes for them to pay off
the moon shining down in the alley for its light.

(23 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, April 22, 2013

Head Man

He thought he’d try a story called Believe It or Not
now that he’d met Robert Ripley.
Bobby didn’t ask Robert L. Ripley if he was related
to the Bring ’em Back Alive guy,
but that was Frank Buck: they were both mythologies
on the street, you had to have gone out of town
to hear about ’em. This Ripley was no magician,
though he seemed good hearted. He talked about you
as though you were some son of Roethke’s, who
didn’t have children. Ripley was no mystic,
he was a shrink with gray hair, portly, well spoken,
which meant there was no mistaking what he said.
Bobby was sitting there thinking this as it ended,
this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn Freud
from those who were required to read his biography,
which was the sole creation and one-man exploration
of the “talking cure” called “Siggy” in John Huston’s
adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s otherwise unfilmed
scenario. Mental adventures were rarely filmed.
Bobby sat through the hour obliviously.

(22 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, April 21, 2013


The widower Bonnington was having an affair with Bobby’s ex-, nurse Melindra.
Bobby asked the doctor if he was going to marry again, which meant
to the good psychiatrist jealousy might be afoot or, failing that, guilt.
Bobby had heard the news from Anna and Paul. After Bobby’s stay on the ward,
it seemed to him like everyone knew everyone else he knew,
and he was unsure how he felt about the news. Bonnington said, Do you love her?
I’m not sure I ever did, Bobby shot back. He would make Bonnington uneasy now.
He caught himself gearing up for an assault. He said he wasn’t very surprised,
Melindra had talked a lot about the doctor. Besides, she liked his paintings,
she'd said to end the night they took him for dinner at Alki and drove him home,
where Bonnington gave them a tour of his “Sunday paintings,” he joked.
Bonnington had read Bobby’s writings and relayed them up to the doctors
in their room at the top, who asked if he knew Roethke. He knew they’d think
he was a star-struck kid from the slums, just another wannabe. Why? he asked.

(21 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

The Striving

1. Kant at work

A priori:
no empirical evidence exists.
Ding an sich:
crease visible between her tits.
See him passing by?
Set your watch.

2. No Plato

Is purity over? Where are
the forms?
Every shorter thing seems long.
nobody’s business if you ask
why curves have need of edges.

3. Heraclitean

Never step in the same storm
There will be ample water to fill
shores inland.
All falling fish swam upstream
before the invention of weirs.

(20-21 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Filling Emptiness

the only one who loves what she does
is the widow resigning from her day job

she remembers and forgets as she goes
out the door, then back into the world

of silence he gave her to surround her,
oblivion nesting where shadows are

(20 April 2013: III)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Poetry of Paradise

poetry never does anything
for anybody home
or in the air on their way
to Paradise the city
in northern California
there will never be poetry

(20 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


a little cloud for your sky to go

sandcastles caked with rain

jurisdiction of the boulevards

wait until the moment opens

rivers spill under houses

draw up the flow of light  

(20 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, April 19, 2013


Who forgets to bring the boat to the beach
and before they leave punch a hole in it?

You need to think of someone not yourself,
who may be about to step inside you.

Some pairs of eyes see the hole but most don’t.
I should have thought of that long before now.

(12 April 2013: III)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander



Where we are life is very difficult
to listen to, understand, talk about.
My love lies on the other side of me
and no longer listens, but talks about
America. She says, Who needs to know
how many bombs wait to be delivered?

(12 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


He’s read love poems all his life.
He’s even written some
he won’t keep:
He hates to confuse women
with history, especially his.
Who does he think he is, Casanova?

(12 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, April 18, 2013


            of Newtown, Boston, and the NRA

Kids have their way if they get to grow up.
So say the utterly empty headed
the world is full of,  those who know it all.
No one needs to tell children expecting
more out of life that they may die too young.
Their elders speak. The Moneybags won’t hear..

(18 April 2013): III)

Body Politics

of the D.C. madam

There go the golden days, the loving nights.
You know where all the bodies are buried.
They take you out to the garage to hang
you by your neck. Their names are in the book
they knew you would turn back on them. The girls
did what you wanted. You needed to pay.

(18 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

I hear the night is free . . .

I hear the night is free, it’s cold enough.
Confused, birds go south rather than stay north.
Mid-April in a far northern outpost.

There is no revising the last chapter.
Everything ends before it can begin.
Now to look for what happens in between.

(18 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


an epilogue . . .

She died. Juan was off in California,
where his uncle had come long ago
to invite him to visit New Orleans.
He had no idea he would meet Adore,
a ju-ju hoodoo lady’s only child,
blessed or cursed, she had no idea
what she thought of not having a father.
She never said. And why would she?
She lived the only way she wanted to.
Juan told her story in HOTEL HOTEL,
then moved away, leaving his brother
to do what he wished about their mama’s
body uprooted in the flood and gone
for good or ill. Juan didn’t come home,
though he thought of New Orleans as his
only home now that he went by Johnny
Flowers, no more Juan Flores. He made
his peace in looking for Betty’s rapists
with no result. He lived with her now.
Sausalito was a good enough village
for someone who didn’t want to do
what he should. He thought of marrying
Betty, still in the grip of guilt, he knew,
for losing her that night. She asked him
to marry. He was thinking it over,
he knew he didn’t want to, that was all.
He learned from Adore how she could see
what no one else but her and the old man
she looked on as her voodoo daddy
knew how to do. It was what Juan knew
as well as learning how to love women
from Adore who let him learn with her
after his uncle died. He read Rousseau’s
Confessions living in Betty’s house high
above the town. He still saw Patty Cakes
at the Trident, but spent much more time
with his mama’s old pal, Sally Stanford,
who reminded him of his mother.
He missed his mama’s brothel, so passed
much–too much?–time in Sally’s Valhalla.

(17 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

New Orleans Beauty

for Leigh

Someone who must’ve been a good friend called her a collector of men,
a way of saying he’s here in case she hadn’t noticed . . .
I consider her at least one root of the soul of her city.
I wake up mornings lately feeling how fortunate I am to be waking,
now I’m mourning the loss of her beautiful leg,
though I’ve never seen her legs, based on her smiling eyes I can guess . . .
All I want to say now is how lucky her men were and are to be collected
by her.

(17 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For Those of Truth and Beauty Both

Once a day corporate kings knight
battalions of jackals paid in full
to sequester streets and ship the many
who need a niche to some Siberia.

No room in Odessa, Paris,
Venice, London, or Montreal;
or in America: New Orleans,
San Francisco, Manhattan, Boston . . . 
this riff then on a sixties baptismal,

the Berkeley 1964 Free Speech
Movement’s origin one bright day
with Mario Savio, Bettina
Aptheker et al. blocking Sather Gate
to address the endless need for wielding
what we are to become what we can be
by jamming the wheel that’s grinding us up
to feed the gods’ immaculate machine
spitting us out as though we were their slaves.

(16 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

World Traveler

Cut-rate travel.
Smart-ass engineers.
Pasty-faced and mirthless
maitre’d and concierge.
No reservations required
to land. Wizardry will
suffice, so go
to sleep.

By air, water, on foot,
the globe turns one way.
Who goes before 
wonder, tragedy . . .
Magellan navigating
around the world,
Cook falling to heathens
on the islands.

Cortes burns his ships.
Coronado’s horse
lays him out, leaves him lame.
They love to see the blood
of heathens run.
They enslave their women.
Who loves himself
is never alone.

When do we arrive?
Where is the path to follow?
How will we know the trail
leading back to sunrise
after the dawn
of the mind’s
scuttle and fall
to the home of the dead . . .

(16 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, April 15, 2013


Who took you to, why did you stay
where the North Sea was higher than the town,
where you knew no one and no one knew you?
Who paved your way to play
the little Dutch boy
all grown up but still
holding a finger in the dike
eight hours a day with overtime
in the rainy seasons?
Journeyman Apprentice
from New Orleans, where the levees broke
in 2005, and Lake Pontchartrain
poured into the bowl that was my city,
drowning people in their houses,
tough way to learn to plug a dike
while treading water.
Say Amsterdam doesn’t work out,
there’s always a squat
on Manhattan’s Amsterdam Avenue,
where you can bone up on your storm rescue . . .

I must say I’m in a burgeoning field,
but I don’t want to leave the Netherlands.
I like to smoke dope
without fear of being busted.
I listen to the stories the girls tell,
write them up thinking they might fuck for free.
Maybe I’ll even learn a little Dutch.
My father said, and said it more than once,
his family was shirt-tail relations
to Peter Stuyvesant. Would that make me
a candidate to have my own peg leg,
making my way between bodies
negotiating through New Netherlands,
stumping with a cane down Amsterdam Ave. . . .

Something there is in Poor Boy History,
Indentured Servitude, the voyage from
Ulster to the New World already Old,
the benefactors patrolling the docks,
easily distinguishing Scots-Irish
from your ordinary Down in the Mouth.

(15 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Some Love

Your ass upturned to feather my tongue prowls
around the lips of the two portals Yeats
found such love in, your “place of excrement,”
the purr from your throat giving me license
to urge my cock to plunge between your legs.

I think you’re crude, she said, to see me now
defenseless in my time of grief and need,
yet better this than dying for a drink, . . .
whereupon I turned her over to fuck
with relish her flesh, food to serve us both. 

Some love . . . who needs it? She whisked out the door
barefoot but dressed, drove off aghast she’d come
for steak and eggs, to drain the Chianti
with Paisano following before beer
put both of us beyond embarrassment . . . 

(14 April 2013: III)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


In Edouard Manet’s painting of Jeanne Duvall,
her bouffant gown covers the body’s scars
but not her face bearing the years she sold
to sit for the portrait her beau Baudelaire
covets to keep her with his memory
if, as he trusts, his eyes outlive her skin
darker than  his words flowing like honey 
filling phantom ships sailing Arctic seas.

(14 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

For the Storm Coming

You know weather invades even poems
now you no longer sleep and do not wake 

the barometer plummets through the air

there is no room for imagination
not even the room the dwarves occupy

who writes this scissors night between two teeth

the bewildering snows garroting spring
twisting the weather that strangles summer

(14 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


What are the words to forget how many
movements over earth orchestrate oceans,
trouble is no one especially cares
to look past night anticipating day,

there are only so many lost cities
resurrected by never being found,
whose living few hide the many from sight,
beauty’s difficulty when left to chance,

streets swarming with souls huddling under eaves
waiting for storms that may not start or end,
lines in bodies filled with lives being lived,
one way to know how old a body is,

who do not need to look to see themselves 
being seen by strangers who want to fill
their own skin saying only what they feel,
who arrive or leave when it comes time to,

no one sleeping, waking, or giving birth,
who know pain can never bring happiness,
lovers being most alive when they love,
dying numb in a frenzy of feeling,

hours passing before returning unchanged,
if you are not here you would be somewhere
the moon turns into sun, the sun back to moon,
seas waking at dusk moving until dawn.

(6 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, April 13, 2013


I could say nothing happens here.
Snow melts, ice forms.
Tornados seldom follow`
though cold descend, heat rise
whirring toward funnel shape.
I saw one in Wellington, Kansas,
far off. Sunflowers kneeled
to touch the earth
I walked, a child.
Next door the widow Yehle
calmed my mother’s fears.
My father heard nothing
in the Boeing plant in Wichita
those years the war was on.

Weathermen say a tornado
blew through last summer.
A branch thick as a tree
fell between houses, ours
and the neighbor’s,
whose tree it was.
Huddling with our cats
in the basement,
my love saying Hail Marys,
when I heard the crack
I said, There goes the roof.
I’ve lived here so long
I sound like someone
who never leaves the house.

Nothing like that happens here,
friends say who’ve never left.
Trees uprooted down the streets,
they try to set us straight:
That was no tornado,
just wind, nothing touched down.
Snow is forecast for May Day.
A neighbor said he saw it snow
on the Fourth of July:
You could keep going north.
Forget it, Jack, 
We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Nor are we in the city
wishing we were here.

(6 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, April 12, 2013

Poetry Girl

She writes poems. She wears a black dress
with red scarf. Something in me swoons.
Next time we meet she gives me her poem
“Eye Strain,” apologizing. No need,
I wrote “Tryst" for her. What the hours
on a houseboat engenders in strangers.

She reads poems. Roethke glimpses a leg
telling her she has “pulchritude.”
She wonders if she should ask him
if he read her poems, but he must have.
Her blond Norwegian is a physicist;
he sits beside her like a trained watchdog.

Next time we meet we trade love vows.
We drive everywhere in Seattle,
Lake Washington, Alki Point, Third
and Yesler–where we dance all night.
She lets me read her Ezra Pound paper
“The Thirteenth Disciple.” Biblical?

I fell in love with a Catholic girl
a second time. Her father Irish Catholic.
In mass Irene Castenada whispered 
of Guadalupe, whom she wanted to see
in Mexico. I saw Our Lady too late
to know where to find Irene to tell her.

Ms. Clarke, Ms.Clarke,
how could a Southern boy have such luck?
Ms. Clarke, Ms. Clarke,
your Black Irish skin feels like silk.
Ms. Clarke, Ms. Clarke,
may I enter you and leave my mark?

“The Thirteenth Disciple”? I asked.
She said, “See the Confucian Analects
and Pound’s Canto XIII, ending: 
The blossoms of the apricot
  blow from the east to the west,
And I have tried to keep them from falling.”

(5 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Prose Life

I love to remember that moment. She had her legs lightly crossed. Had shucked her sandals, folding one leg’s calf over the other leg just below the knee, her thighs showing, her back to the door so that I had a moment not only of light-headed lust but the fear the door might open accidentally–maybe she would move suddenly and trip the door lever–and so I slowed from sixty to forty, it was night anyway, so late the freeway was nearly empty, the auburn lights burning high up along the shoulders not bright enough to hide her loveliness, which was not beauty, understand, but something that glowed inside her and revealed itself now–not always, but certainly now.

We were returning to the country from the city, where we had passed four hours that evening in knowing everyone there, finally, because the owner of the house knew me from mutual friends and wanted me to meet “some people.” I brought Irene because she was Mexican and a personality whose spirit was akin to the stereotype so many conjured when they discussed Lupe Valdez or, in later years, Isabel Vega, who most reminded me of Irene Castenada and more than once I identified with some hybrid of her director and her leading man–Sam Peckinpah, Warren Oates–though years later, when I told Cathleen of her, and mentioned this comparison, the olive-skin Black Irish–“gypsy,” she insisted–who not only came after but stayed long enough to see me die, replied, “You were that pilgrim, that prophet in the song we played on the jukebox, over and over, that evening we stayed the night in the hotel in the middle of nowhere in Ontario . . . but you were more palatable once you came back to life.”

Irene’s naked body was my body’s first love. That moment remembered on the drive back set me off on our brief but luckless journey. You cannot grow up somewhere like our village and stay there happily, not if you were like me or like her. I do not know where she went, but no one in that place ever knew either and most had already forgotten about her since they were white boys like me but whose conception of beauty was only what they saw that most resembled Marilyn Monroe or Jane Russell or, for the more cultured lads, Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood . . . There was only one theater in town and rarely did it show movies other than the B-Westerns of that time, so that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, War and Peace, and Rebel without a Cause were fare for the routine cowboy tired of contretemps in Hell Fire  or Red River, to give you a range of Westerns then from B to A. I never cared for Howard Hawks, but I did appreciate King Vidor’s choice of the actress to embody Tolstoy’s Natasha and more than once Irene, like Cathleen, would say I reminded them of James Dean and I replied each time, “Only because you put me in mind of Natalie Wood,” and sometimes I would say it first followed by their own versions of my remark.

I did not love Cathleen immediately after Irene. I first had to suffer the loss of true innocence, the change the heart must make when the woman you think you love insists you stay with her until she makes up her mind what she wants to do. Cathleen told me, as she still does, I was her first love, but the evidence of what came after put the lie to her heart’s words–you know, those you say later that you would not have said during the absences when either you were gone or she was. They are simply the words you say before, during, and after, and for the sake of memory, never change.

(12 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, April 11, 2013

War without End

There was the man without a face.
Another’s voice was missing.
A third possessed no hands or legs.
They lounged in the basement.
If he with no voice needed a partner
we shot pool, played cards.
I watched the man without a face,
imagined what was never said,
but I heard when called upon by the one
whose voice rang out in alarm:
Please give me hands and feet to hold!
(If only I had known where else to work.)
Their lives moved backward only,
where there was never more than war
they must find their way to: the front line,
staccato machine-gun fire, explosions,
bodies falling to the erupting earth.
Out of what they had in common 
they conjured the only game they knew
buried in their nerves: War without End.

(11 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


In my post-pubic, pre-priapic adolescence
I thought I would go downtown to cop dope
to sell and halfway there I decided
not to, kept going though, years later reached
Alaskan Way, where Rosemary camped out
between waitressing gigs, saying she wants
to go to bed for old times sake. How old?
Her long dark red hair, a scarlet color
mixed with black, flows, spreading under
her buttocks, where it takes on a new life
as though her pale skin were scorched, hot
to the thrust and bellying back
a code of frenzy’s unlocking of lust
until it sighs and shimmers into love.
After that, walking up one street to talk
of that old project we once abandoned
and she says she’d like to start up again,
mixing blues with mountain music to make
what? I ask, and she: Why not rock?

In dream she leaves to work the graveyard shift.
I wake where sound climbs waves inside, but no,
I was riding the bus up the street now.
I had come too far to give up my need
of the only music I knew could play
in my head where the dancers writhed
before taking one step and then the next
with more panache than the first pirouhette
into the air swarming with honeyed flesh
pouring through my reed as the drums
shivered staccato with the thump of bass,
piano keys gliding to middle C
from down to up and down again as though
providing Paula timbre she required
to sing All of Me. That was a great song
the way she moved the words between her lips
until the syllables cast a shadow
traveling with her ghost beyond the door
to the moon slithering through splintered clouds.

(11 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Life's Blows

Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes . . . Yo no se! –Cesar Vallejo
(There are blows in life, so powerful . . . Don’t ask me!)

The night is caged like a bat so Dracula can’t fly.
The earth’s plated underground works overtime
finding the next shift between the clashing nests
hanging over the moon. When you come home 
there is no one answering your door. The razor
of the mind cuts deep. The blood curdles in flesh
that if left too long unappeased feeds the monster
without reprieve. I was thinking of the brave lass
I left once upon the time she revived her horror.
I find it difficult to know because I wasn’t there.
In a word, I knew nothing. It took us forty years
to talk. Wisdom I have is fragile and impotent
to speak of alcoholism in light of drug addiction.
I feel a twinge of troubled weather. I read. I listen.
Tonight I heard I may live near her kind of hell.
The North Woods, Paul Bunyan habitat, is a place
to make their elixir in houses unlikely to be seen.
One day an innocent from town, his gun on safety,
was hunting grouse out there, following a path
where a lunatic attacks him, stabs him, steals
what he wants, and returns to huddle in his house,
not far from the car where the hunter crawls
to call 9-1-1; and that’s how the house was found.
Then I listened to Nick Reding talking about Iowa
in his Methland, in the New York bookstore
The Strand, where I bought Charles Mingus’s
Beneath the Underdog my first day in the city.
I’m playing The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
because I’ve read both books and it’s only her
I want to help somehow by jotting down words
that occur to me now, urging her to please save
herself. He died, whose music rescued her for love
to share between them as long as he stayed alive.
I want to say something that won’t sound syrupy,
but: You are all you need as long as you get with
people who know the story no one wants to have
to repeat to help others to help themselves to stop
and stay here, among the living. Hear Miles play
with Coltrane. Sounds like they're in your house,
saints and sinners all. Your life need not be so short.
May you cherish always your sax man's great heart.

(10 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Unending Drive-bys

I don’t know what it is
but I can say what it seems.
They turn a corner
and there they are.
Do you know what’s next?
Not until car drives off,
if in a hurry bad,
if not a practice run
for you. Hard to play
in the yard, keep the kids
in the back, if there is such.
Always keep a loaded gun.
It’s your inheritance.
Your ancestors’ slavery.

If I had anything to say
that would help, I would.
For a starter, ban guns
in the city. Wyatt Earp
did the same in Dodge:
Check your guns coming in,
Get them on the way out.
My concerns are displaced.
I should be moleing into
the NRA, wrecking them
from within. Or rallying
in parks, MacArthur say,
blistering the warm air,
recruiting nonstop.

(10 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Whisky Run


The botched way they lap the sauce

and maneuver the handle of the cup
is outwardly dexterous, in the inner
fist made with curling hand and cup
handle lifted aloft in the wee hours.


If you don’t buckle your seat belt,

air bags won’t do much to keep you
from looking for generic wheels in
the junkyard, a dead driver’s body
mass bent to be a well-aimed bullet.

Drive fast, up and out and leave life

for somebody more practical to live.
Far flung, through the windshield.
No matter your age, too unlucky to
expire, stand by while the cars stop. 

Pickups are the best way to die in all

lugubrious instances. Leave off cars,
those badly out of date. Go on dates
with war orphans and talk weapons.
Younger she is the more she knows.


In an alley, sleep. Of mornings, wake.

Too much sauce on the gander’s beak
is a peril on ice. Goose me a compact
condom if the lass isn’t looking here,
meat too far from the bones rattling.

(9 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Flowers help you not.
Fire flames you into life twice.
Upside down, buoyed by a whirlpool
floating just out of reach
of the still air,
no one waves from the other shore.

Loon’s cry. Empty place.
Be the black orange lady
with wings. Her most beloved itch
nudges her, Fly
to dry the tear-drenched eyes
of all other almond shells hollowed.

Who was in water
mine own whale
beached. Rare
are the adamant refusals
to dive when now
harpoons fly your way once more.

(9 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, April 8, 2013


Be ready for the black pall. Black orchids. Black sky.
If I could say death without stammering,
though not that, more like blocking, words caught
somewhere between the mind and mouth,
I would enter the aftermath
measuring the speed of light after life.

(8 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


If I could meet him I would.
–Gus Blaisdell (sometime in the ’80s)

The master’s servant,
he was his student.
I learned more from
Anna Livia Plurabelle
in French, said Sam.
Joyce was not his book.

One is not the other,
no need to compare,
singularity is never
Comment C’est.
Then how is it?
Not much now.

Hang one hand
off the arm,
let it dangle
postwar flow.

Finnegan knew tongues.
Vladimir and Estragon
knew Lucky
at the end of his rope.
Hamm and Nell and Nagg
family to the end.

The stage grows
The books dwindle
I would start over:
move, stop, think, move still.

(8 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Old Love:

The way to forget what you went through is to follow the path he took out of love for you.
He’s gone now but you’re not and he put his sax in the closet to work for a paycheck
to keep you steady on your feet and him beside you every step of the way the notes
run through changes without stopping, though now he would want you to live
the rest of your life as though he were still here, and he is alive in you . . . 
be wise, my old love, you with many years unlived but still yours.
I hope this somehow helps: love's symmetry may be missing
though he is dreaming you as you are dreaming him . . .

(7 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Missionary Position

The sky pilots, they were called. Every church sent them into the wilderness
and brought them back to the fold to acclaim and endow with renewed zeal
they carried home to the heathen (as though the savages were squatters . . . ).

I have to tell you right off I hated missionaries. They were the same as Mafia
handing out favors to believers in exchange for saving them from Hell’s fire..
I read Melville’s Typee with its unexpurgated original expose of missionaries.

Of course only priests and preachers and their ilk were known as God’s own.
That was why I invented my own church, La Iglesia de La Puta, on this earth
and open to sinners of every shade, profession, and style of dreaming death.

Cathleen was right. When we die we go inside our dreams. Eternal life? Yes.
Angel would be there because even though she sold pleasure to anonymous
souls, male usually and female occasionally, the love she gave was returned.

I lived among the savages. Gerry said that’s how he saw it, but not so clearly.
He came from Africa; for all he knew that was where he would go back to.
The Church fucked up his life. Why couldn’t nuns and priests have their own?

Dee was the most downtrodden, having been raped by a priest whom he loved
in his child’s way. It hurt his soul more than his body. He never returned.
His mind evolved from Hawthorne to Poe. Yes, the zombie was a reader first.

All those down and out dream of writing of their unspeakable experiences.
Beasley raped by a nun and fathering a Satanic child. Dee, an altar boy,
raped by a priest for whom women were sinful. Angel, her own sad story.

floycealexander told me once he and Irene sat through mass to be seen there,
then hightailed it up to the summit of the highest hill overlooking the town,
where every Sunday they practiced the wholly sanctified missionary position.

Cathleen had her own mind. Priests came to her father’s house to tempt her.
Businessmen tried to get her to go to bed, and after the first time she found
money flowed easily from the rich to the poor, though the price was too high.

In La Iglesia de La Puta confession came with the rain and opened windows
in the soul, where you saw other damned souls clearly in the streaked glass.
One was my mother. Though I found her alive, I waited eagerly for the rain.

(7 April 2013)


I didn’t say I wrote songs. Or poetry. I lied and said I was writing a novel. 
Angel said, What about? Beasley asked, Why not write for the theater?
Dee said something about adapting The Fall of the House of Usher to TV.

Those were the days before Wall was sent up to the Walla Walla state pen.
He was never penitent. He lost his daughter and Marge, and his baby blue
Cadillac convertible. I started going downtown with Wall to score dope,
though I never did anything other than marijuana. Once I was offered
opium, loved it, but never could find anyone anywhere to front it to me.

Beasley had not started living with Angel, though he thought something
was wrong inside, pissing blood, hemorrhoids, promising only a beginning 
to his troubles. He worked only rarely now. Angel learned he was hurting.

She liked to give him blow jobs for free, and he reciprocated by loving her.
They began spending more time together as Gerry cut his working hours.
She said, Move in with me and I’ll do you every night, baby. You’ll have
a place to write and I’ll have a man. He said, I’m no pimp, Angel. She knew
he would be anything she wanted him to be once she got him used to her.

I went down to First Avenue one night to the coffee shop to find out where
they were. Dee murmured, Just around the corner, first door in the alley.
Gerry welcomed me, said he was through writing for a while. Angel was
working the street, pulling in more bread now than she’d ever done before
and praising him for making an honest working woman out of her . . .

Angel came in and we had some instant from a jar. She drank some wine,
he rested by having nothing, talking about how he came to Shakespeare
after growing up in the St. Paul slums. Before I read Willie the Shake . . .

That’s what my friend Gus liked to call him . . . We met in Shakespeare
300-something, taught by one Robert Adams who insisted on mugging all
the soliloquies he’d memorized  and immediately Gus and I turned off.
We went to Hotel Congress that night and read all the parts to King Lear
while Cristina served us drinks and in her hip-high hose flirted with Gus.

Now, when the lights were dimming from the surfeit of closing times, I left
Angel and Gerry and walked over to hear Rose and Dave. Paula was alone.
I bought her drinks we nursed. She said, I miss you. We dreamed in blue.

(6 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, April 6, 2013


They were touchstones of my good luck.

Dee was a pasty-faced zombie.
I had never seen anyone’s body
move so slow, with a mind quick to the point
if you listened closely to what he said.
He seemed to have thought through an enigma
by constructing a dialogue
silently before beginning to talk,
when you peered into his pale eyes to ask,
Where did that come from? but knew no answer
would come before he had covered the ground
with his run-on sentence that concluded
with an epiphany, then shuffled off
as though he were embarrassed, staring out
the window through which he saw likely johns
and old friends, all of them entering where
he sat alone to think,  philosopher
whore, who sounded like someone out of Poe.
When I asked, he said, Poe’s my godfather.

Beasley and Angel loved Dee until love
began to fill him with newfound desire.
He started touching Gerry’s arm
with gnarled fingers whose nails were never cut.
He stroked flesh softly until his lips soothed
Beasley, who lived off men like Dee
or well-dressed high rollers looking for fun.
But Angel freaked when Dee touched her.
She had to have a hard penis,
but never gave favors. She loved Gerry
because he knocked up that St. Paul sister,
who shucked his clothes and pulled him into her
and rode him until seed found its ovum.
Angel loved that he knew things beyond her
mind’s reach. He treated her delicately. 
He was like a brother she never had.
He read to her what he wrote. She asked him
questions she stored as he told the story.

Angel was small, her lips and eyes
elixir for the men who hired her,
and those she liked became her regulars,
though she talked with a smoker’s voice
and used too much rouge, powdering her face
until she looked in a mirror one day
and realized she looked like Dee.
From then on she used lipstick, eyeliner,
powdered her pussy, rouged her pert nipples,
waiting to ask her first john of the night
or day if he liked how her pussy smelled
and the rings she drew around her nipples.
She kept asking, hearing what she hoped for,
but never asked the same john twice.
Even Dee approved her transformation,
muttering, I need to use your mirror,
but she never opened the door to him.
Gerry was the only man with a key.

Each one asked me privately what I wrote.

(6 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, April 5, 2013


I took Angel back to her place
to pick up Beasley’s manuscripts.
Dee came along with her, mumbling
his ghost talk. He was like someone
Poe created. He and Angel
together now seemed like siblings
as he hit on my friend’s widow.
Dee was closer to death than her–
by how much who could tell? 
I tried to think what I would do
once I had in hand the writings
of this late Shakespeare of Skid Road.
When we arrived Dee went away.
I felt relieved. I walked with her.
Sitting at Gerry’s writing desk–
a kitchen table never used
for eating–Angel seemed . . . forlorn
or lost were words too tame for her . . .
she was the most frightened creature
in this city I’d ever known.
She wept gathering his papers,
not even trying to talk now,
and I remembered the first night
I saw her. She bought our coffee
with money her body had earned
as though her cheerful banter rose
from a soul who sought nothing more
than Beasley’s company and mine.
Dee came by our café table
to pay his respects, then wandered
to a corner window waiting 
under neon lights for someone
to sleep with long enough to earn
a living for another day,
who might even be the father
whose viciousness he could not bear.
There he was, with her, Gerry, and
the other human throwaways
cast out of Seattle’s heaven
and condemned to exist down here
until they died between Hell’s walls.

(5 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


It was Wall told me Beasley was dying.
His liver was going bad.
He'd already quit whoring.
Angel kept on and cared for him
in her walk-up, low-rent room.
He stopped drinking, stayed home mostly.

He made Iago a gangster
story, with Desdemona Iago's sister.
When Beasley ventured out
he spent hours in all-night movies.
Scarface he watched so many times
he grew to love the brother-sister
incest plot Paul Muni's Tony
shared with Ann Dvorak's Cesca.
George Raft's Guido was husband Othello,
without any black-face minstrel getup.
Tony and Cesca kept secret their love
that dare not speak its name.
When Guido caught on, he took out his rage
on Cesca, the way Desdemona
takes the rap for Iago in Othello.
For Gerry sex was the axis that turned
most of his Shakespearean plots.
To get the Borgia background
for Prohibition-era Chicago
he read three versions of Cenci
by Stendhal, Shelley, and Artaud.
At home when he wasn't reading
he was writing. Angel said
he wrote all morning, dawn to noon,
then napped, went to the theaters,
and back home wrote until he slept.

I had not yet read any of Iago. He read it all
to Angel; she gave the typescript to me,
along with his Hamlet and the others.
Gerry had asked Angel to crumple
his manuscripts around his corpse
to ignite the flames, but he knew
an unmarked grave would have to do.
She saved his work, she said, for posterity.

Angel and Dee read over
his pauper's grave.
It was in autumn.
There was rain.

(4-5 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Blue-eyed Blues

The platinum blonde was married
and had been married more than once.
She said she liked the way I played
clarinet, her head in both hands,
so intense she might be learning
or remembering or just rapt
watching my fingers on the keys,
my mouth forming its embouchure.
Between sets we sat together.
She smoked, sipping Southern Comfort.
She had blue eyes. I played her blues.

When the night was over we climbed
the street where you could see out there
the moon shining between shadows.
She hailed a cab. We went downtown.
Rose was still on stage, so we watched
her follow her blues with her lips.
Rose came over to meet my friend.
When Dave arrived I said goodnight.
She was staying in the Franklin.
She asked me to come up to say
goodbye. I left her in her room
asleep and walked all the way back.

I knew she was too good for me.
I had used up my lucky charms.
No Irish leprechauns revealed
the soul that only she possessed.
In the morning she would fly out
to be with her husband again.
She said she knew now why she came.
Our meeting had been an answer
but to what I would never know.
Nor did I need to know.  A life
like mine followed where music led.

I rose and fell, no longer young
but not too old to choose my way.
I preferred the way up, not down,
yet I knew it was the way out
that counted at the end, years gone
and how could you help but regret
pages left blank, like the story
I talked to her about, Beasley’s
chronicle of all his brief lives,
a parade of outcasts come home
who never had a home before
they found what life he gave them now. 

(4 April 2013: II) 

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


Every human needs human love.
Some settle for the animal.
I don’t mean cats, dogs, or horses.
Humans are often animals.

She banked her take in her brassiere,
came home when one cup overflowed,
stashed it all with him, his two hands
moving to open the cashbox,
they called it, an old humidor
from the dumpster. He prowled alleys
and streets between typing his words.
Though he wrote in his head walking,
he always stopped to write it down
in the shirt-pocket spiral pad
he carried with him everywhere.
On First he always found a friend
inevitably asking him
Whacha doing now you gave up
the life? to which he only smiled.
After drinking, he shopped for food
to make the dinner she called lunch.
She always took time off from tricks.
After eating, her seasoned lips
made his body flow with new life,
his cruising having made him raw,
her need to save her mouth for him.

I never learned her other name.
She loved Angel for what it meant.
She wanted to go to heaven,
she said, I want you to go too.

(4 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

She Who Will Not Be Named Here, or Anywhere, Never by Me

And so the water rippled with the rain dimpling the water where it’s always dark,
under the freeway circling through the city in its continual whoosh and muted roar.
I took her to the Poopdeck where Jabbo and Freddie played. She thought peanut shells
were a delicacy to step on to make the music crackle when we walked as they played.
Up the street, then, to the Penthouse. A clientele more to her liking, dressed like her
to be seen. I wanted to see her with nothing on. She kept saying, That may come in time.
I must say I did not believe her; the sands in my hourglass were caked with rain.
No need to even tell her name, I doubted we had a future, she may as well have been
sister to my need, or I cavalier for her company, a beacon to whet her appetite for me.
I took her to Hotel Congress, played clarinet, Paula sang, Tony on piano, Sanchez and
Clark as always. We went upstairs afterward. Why is this La Iglesia de La Puta?
She wanted to know my dearest secrets so she might tell me hers and that way love
us both for attempting the impossible, that at least. Paula was keeping her distance.
Cristina no longer implored me to share her bed, to fill her thighs with my sad seed.
I was remembering what had happened so far back now I could hardly find words
to embody thoughts that were more wish fulfillment than memory, not even dreams
if dreams were what you lived, as Cathleen said, once you die and go to heaven . . .
My platinum beauty from somewhere I had never been . . . how I loved to read to her.
I told her of the story I wrote not long after meeting Beasley down there. She thought
I had read it already. I chuckled. You’ve seen too much, I teased, to believe there’s more.

(3 April 2013: II)


I do not know why Angel took such umbrage
to a kiss, she who sold her flesh for much less . . .
It was not the kiss but what it meant to her and
her sisters and brothers, of whom Gerry was one.
Because she kissed only those she loved, Beasley
was her beloved. She sensed the poet knew more
than she, though he only told her of his writing,
or read to her. She puzzled through many words
but never interrupted. She had never been where
he had been, heard what he had heard, seen what
he had seen. But for the St. Paul nun, beautiful
as she was violent, he knew he would not be here.
To get here, he had fallen. Angel climbed out
of her hell. No woman from where she came,
the bottom of Skid Road reached just before the logs
splashed into the Sound, ready to be sent to market
–few girls stayed alive to become a woman, and here,
which he called down here, no one survived who did
not whore or worse. Either that or be condemned
to continual childbirth, suffer incessant blows
from men’s hands, lessons delivered by masters
whose wives in name only were meant to be slaves.
The future for Angel back there was only death.
At least selling her body gave her some rights:
If she did not need the money for the moment,
she might refuse sex, though she always had a need
for money. Where she was born sex was a woman’s
way to keep from being murdered, and even then
no assurance she would not be executed . . .
The sexual act she knew, and knew it was an act.
And she had come here, into this city’s bowels
so she could sleep alone. She needed such sleep,
but there was her human heart’s need to love,
and she chose the black man to take to her bed
because there was still the taste of woman in him
that revealed itself through the passion they shared,
odd those it was for him to have overcome by now.
They shared a bed because they abhorred violence,
all the forms of cruelty they tried to overcome.
And it was only with each other they could gain
such knowledge. And he proved another lie false
among those from her childhood, the rascist smears
that compared Beasley and his brothers with the devil.
With him Angel found for the first and last time
in her brief life the love that kisses were meant for.
Of her own choosing she had never kissed any man
but him, and in her profession was aging so fast
she sensed Gerry Beasley would be her only love.
I was glad Terri had left town and never returned.
She had found more than one man to love, to kiss.

(3 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Dance

It’s because he listens she takes his arm.
She had a good time with the nancy boys:
New York, Florida; she had the good looks
to get her way, and did. He stuck by her.
The place was so hot the cigarette haze
sent them outside, up the short flight of stairs
to walk streets where no one as beautiful
as she should be. These people were all lost,
she was not. The boys she knew had money.
They simply preferred whom they were born for,
other men. She felt safe being with them.
They climbed the street to his Iglesia.
He read to her what he had been writing,
about this Skid Road Iago compelled
to crush his better, the black man Beasley,
within a relentless plot, the old scheme
hatching jealousy and its stubborn price
paid by lovers’ bodies rolled down steep streets.
She hoped he would read longer, but he stopped.
Here was one worse than Shakespeare’s Iago,
a total whore with blond hair out of Poe.
She drove. The all-night café was open,
Dee sat with Angel listening to him.
She invited them to sit and hear this
tale of calumny and woe Dee told her.
She asked, Who is this Terri from the South
kissing my forlorn poet on his lips,
and he with too few years left to be lived . . .
Dee got up and cruised the bar for a score.
The woman whose platinum hair glistened
learned fast. He was a sucker for her lust.
He slid his fingers under her light dress;
one afternoon with her and such promise.
Between them, they knew little their bodies
did not feel. The body has ways to know
surpassing speech, allowing flesh to flow. 
Angel asked him to take her to Gerry,
to the dance under the street. There Beasley
told Angel Terri meant nothing to him.
Nor did she, she should quit this mothering
and let him die of his own volition.
She wept, she railed, she became La Puta
and not a john in sight, the night too late
in that huge room where the girls danced with girls,
boys with boys. He held Angel close. The word
love meant nothing now, nor did innocence.
They no longer knew a way up these streets. 
Farther down was nothing but the water.

(2 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Location Night but with No Name

Once he was home and found this place
to rest his memory, he saw her where
she sat alone on the park bench
poised as though in flight from something
no one could see, perhaps least of all her.
Her name would be silvery like her hair
between two fingers of a hand
that he thought might become his own.

* * * * *

Once on land, you return to the city,
to all you were missing covered over
with dreams men threw up fast against the sky,
secure if the earth does not break open.
You know nothing of her story, city
behind her eyes, clouds parting to spill rain.
Take her hand. Caress her. Listen. Her lips
form words welling up from her depths.

The sound of your own voice is as nothing
in the cache of a man’s life delivered
from the sea to recover your childhood’s cracked
mirror, to find here what you have become
in your maturity’s true north toward death.
You vow to take her where she wants to go,
learn the name she no longer loves.
A woman now, she tells you what she wants. 

* * * * *

He puts his pen down. He looks to see her
take a chair. He studies the way she leans
resting her breasts on the café table,
reading, hands clasped between her legs.
When she looks up he is looking at her.
Where will he go that she will go with him?
Why would she go with him and no other?
The poetry of a fool’s life . . .

(2 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, April 1, 2013

"Iago" Begins

I know saints are fools.
Whores are more my taste.
I am nothing if not criticall.
Here he comes now, the man
who married a woman
whose snowy skin milks
his love running quick.

I of course hate him,
Black ram with his white ewe.
I am not what I am.
I will follow where he goes.
I will spin him on my axis
until he falls on her
in a dark riot of seeded stars.

Let her go to another man
in the trap I set for her
so she may be my fool
and he the deadly whore
finding what I planted
inside night’s four walls
and he with a pillow smothers.

(1 April 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Black Night

Prelude to Iago:  

On First Avenue, in an all-night coffee shop
filled with the ghosts of male whores
and the bodies of female whores
Beasley sits next to Angel who pulls paper
money out of her bra happily announcing
she’s having a good night, she’s buying
Beasley’s coffee. She has plenty.
Blond Dee in the corner is a city ghost:
He’s dying. You can see it. Die, then . . .
Beasley listens carefully when Dee comes
to speak his muffled words. Angel is patient,
Dee finishes, then she tells Beasley
she has a gift for him if he skips the dance
and takes her back to his place,
even though he’s the way he is
because of the rape by the nun in St. Paul.
Beasley knows nothing matters but money.
From memory he imagines her lips
and begins to think of Desdemona:
Who is she here, who is her Iago?
He is writing Shakespeare’s adaptations,
those sparked by Holinshed among others,
set in America. Thus Hamlet is a Western.
Dee cruises the customers, the straights fall
under the spell of his come-on.
Beasley plans a denouement:
a blond ghost devours black night.

(1 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander