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