Friday, May 31, 2013


As usual
I find myself in
my metaphor
mine own conceit, 
though ill bred
to fuck and fight
and forget
it is night,
my time, hers.
Her olive skin
and mine swarthy
–we do not
fit well together
under the moon,
that voyeur . . .
We thrash
with a fury
creatures run from
to turn to see.

(31 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Is it the sun straight up
or the rain,
or the bourbon before me?
I sin.
I watch love end.
She gets on the bus, goes
I did not know for good.
A city full of clouds.
Hands empty
save for guns.
What to do but war?
Look closely:
can you see the living
for the dead?
Some have more
than they need.
Good for them.
Nothing’s like it was?
Only death’s the same?

(30 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Nothing happens
before midnight.
The barricades
come down.
Deer fill the alleys.
Birds fly from tower
to tower.
This’s what cities
are for,
for bear, cougars,
it’s all too late
to be seen
if you don’t stay
up and go out
where the life is.
That way you know
creatures who live 
inside you
come out at midnight.

(29 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


They brought the body in by noon. They had to wear masks to look it over, the stench filling the room, wafting outside. Someone opened the tent flap and complained. No one spoke in reply. It was just too damned bad, why in hell was he complaining? It wasn’t his body on the table. 
The man’s throat was slit. That was all. He lay nestled between the rocks for how many days, no one knew, would ever know, it was of no importance: after you died, you left your body, the priests said, and burial grave or urn simply marked where the cadaver’s spirit would return with the Second Coming. No one in the tent believed it.

That was the war Jess was in. He left Ponca City and Chloe Waller and did a tour in the European theater, mostly, he said, in London. He missed his big girl; she became even more a woman while he was away. Even if he’d stayed longer in the war, he knew she would be all right; her daddy’s oil money would keep her safe and well for his return. She wrote a letter to him every day. Usually they arrived in clusters.
  Jess was the oldest. Next came Cleve, who near the war’s end was one of those commandeered by General George Patton in the Battle of the Bulge. Like Jess, Cleve had too many other mysteries in his life and refused to waste time remembering the war. His wife at home divorced him. Once he was back, as gentle and humble as when he had left, he found Jewel, who loved him, she told him latger, the first moment she saw him in Sallisaw, where his father had been shot and killed. He and Jewel married and moved to southern California, to Santa Ana, where they both died, first him and then her. Her broken heart weighed and wore her down, she kept the house too hot for anyone else, but not many visited and she needed the extra warmth. She thought about going back to Oklahoma, but her youth there was too far removed in time; she knew staying here she kept Cleve alive in her memory.
  Buster stayed in Oklahoma and married a schoolteacher with long red hair, a slow-drawling walk, a way of smiling with her eyes, the same as he did. They lived on a hill in Wilburton. He worked on cars in his garage, close enough to feel at home, far enough to be as independent as he felt he needed to be. He hated the war so much he dismissed ever having been there. Carmen could not get him to talk about it, nor could her uncle Ellis, who lived in the cluttered shack in the back yard, reading and collecting Grit, a periodical that preceded the more infamous Police Gazette.
  Clyde did not go to the war. He stayed with his mother, was deferred to look after her, as he always had and would continue to do until she died twenty years after the war ended. He did carpentry jobs in Fort Smith, met women, wooed them after hours, and had a child with one, of whom no one in the family knew until Clyde told his nephew–me–not long before he died.
  Clyde’s son taught journalism at Yeshiva University, New York City. Clyde told the story of Dale Roy’s interview of Errol Flynn, the one cache of his writing that people read and he knew it because they mentioned it if and when they felt it safe to bring up the name of that bloody rounder–Captain Blood, the Earl of Essex, General George Armstrong Custer: roles that kept his boxoffice open but were far less interesting than his turn in the bedroom with the very young, too young Beverly Adland; or at least that was the gist of the piece. The Man Who Robs the Cradle. “Scandal Suits Flynn’s Fans, But Not the Church Or Beverly Adlan’s Mother” as the subhead read. Even though the piece was only an interview, the New York Post was engaged in the business of selling papers. Dale Roy, who was named for his mother, Ruby Phillips of Van Buren, Arkansas,  said goodbye to the tabloid once he knew he had landed the teaching job.
  Manuel did not go to the war: he had a son whom the entire family “took over,”as they called “fussing over” children, and he was the only one. His father moved all three of his own family to Wichita, and worked on the assembly line at Boeing Company, helping to build airplanes as a way to do his part and, presumably, to stay out of the war, though he never said so.  
  Ernest, the youngest brother, was in the navy. He was the twin of the only sister, who was named after Jess’s first love, Chloe Waller–some called her his “paramour.” Sister Chloe married a mechanic, Dallas Elliott, and they lived in Phoenix after she gave birth to a daughter she named Chloe. She was my only known cousin. She died a few years after her husband, living on their pig farm in Maine, making a widow’s living as a secretary for an insurance company, and a decade after their unknown cousin’s heart attack, which Clyde, his unheralded father, said killed Dale Roy Phillips instantly.
  Ernest fought with Admiral “Bull” Halsey in the war’s Pacific theater. He never said much more than that, at least not so people could hear. He went to Detroit, worked at Bud Wheel, married Stella, drank beer, retired, moved to the woods in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, lost a leg to diabetes, which proceeded to take the rest of his body.
  There was no need for any of them to discuss the war. There were problems closer to home. Those who went to the war and those who came home were truly kin to those who did not go and for various reasons stayed home. None of them fought in Korea, the “police action,” Truman called it, nor in Vietnam. And I only am left to end the story now . . . this way:

There was nothing more to be done. The corpse was buried. The chaplain read over the grave. The dead one had been rumored to prefer men over women. You didn’t need to ask around to know who murdered him. Whispers served for talk. Giggling made men sound like children; when they drank, they resembled lonely animals. The dead was once alive but he was not missed. One of two of the living, neither of whom survived the war, came close to taking credit for his death. They were on the ship that sent the first wave of men to Normandy Beach. The invasion put the matter to rest. How could you accuse men of murder who risked their lives and died fighting for their country?
  Something about it fed on Jess but he finally told Chloe the night he mustered out. She listened to Jess as long as he wanted to talk; she said nothing until he finished, nor did she say anything then. She mixed each of them an Old Fashioned. They took off their clothes, kissing and fondling and building their passion as they did; then they set their glasses beside the bed, hers on one side, his on the other. She was a big woman, he was a big man; they had always experienced a good time together in bed, and because neither of them wanted children they used protection and had no need to worry.
Chloe told me the story many years later. She said I looked just like Jess. If only I were him, I thought, she might be happy again. I was attending an immigration trial in El Paso. My wife’s. You can’t live in Cuba and Nicaragua and simply come back to the States and apply and be given your citizenship back if you are on record as having surrendered it in Mexico City while you were becoming a Latin American revolutionary over a period of twenty-six years. The trial ended in a guilty verdict. Appeals made sure it continued for a few more years until Reagan gave way to Poppy Bush, who apparently wanted the case to be closed, and it was. 
  Chloe gave me a Navajo ring. She had operated a trading post on the outskirts of Albuquerque and the man she married–a cattleman who retired and left Arizona to follow her–cracked the turquoise inset when he hit and knocked down a man in a barroom tussle, breaking the man’s jaw.
Chloe told me stories of her life. Her father was French, her mother Osage. They were wealthy, but Chloe loved a good time and Jess, she said, was the best time she ever had, even if he was a poor boy, she added, following that with “especially because he was poor.”
  The last night I stayed with Chloe I told her I was married to the woman on trial, but living in Albuquerque with the woman I had loved all my life, so far mostly unrequitedly. After I left Chloe, but before the Immigration and Naturalization Service handed down their decision, and even longer before my wife’s case was dismissed, I divorced  her–we had lived apart five years–and I and my beloved married a second time. That was a quarter-century ago. And that’s how I came to be here, where there are more churches more capita than in any other domicile in America, even the South, where I was born, in Fort Smith, the city someone once called “the Eastern gateway to the Southwest.” I always cheated and called it the “Southeastern door . . .” 
  For years, even after he died and my mother took over, my father flew the flag his brother Cleve’s widow had given him after the military burial. I happened to be there and helped him set the flagpole in the earth next to one of the three grape vineyards that both of us worked and I always believed I would inherit; but when the time came to do so I no longer wanted to stay, nor did she, and we moved to Albuquerque for twelve years. Eventually, my father sold the vineyards and the new owner uprooted everything–vines, wires, posts–and left the ground to grow fallow, the dirt blowing in the wind, even the killdeer abandoned without the grape leaves to hide their little ones before the harvest came due. One corner of one vineyard became a trailer court, where one night a man and wife were robbed and they and their two children murdered by people that were never apprehended. That happened after I was gone, subsequent to my only return to see what had happened to the land, and could not help feeling sick, and got drunk in a bar not far away to get rid of the taste I had been left with and get something in me I could at least vomit up and be done with. 
  That was not my war, the one I lost though I went on winning my private battles, saying, always, to hell with my war.

Each day I was there the courtroom was hot. My wife sat with me and her parents, while her new partner (with whom she shared a closet) sat a few rows back with the visiting poet from California whose name meant as much as, if not more than, any literary person living in the Southwest. She was there to testify and did so brilliantly, I thought. When the INS prosecuting attorney publicly announced my living arrangements, the lesbians, who sat together on the opposite side of the room from where I sat among my wife’s family, all turned and looked, if not glowered, at me. I looked back, but I felt the guilt all the same. Even then I insisted on testifying, and after the judge motioned the woman about to question me to the bench, where apparently he asked her to embarrass me no further, for she asked me only what I wished to say to the Court. It was that night I told Chloe the story of my heart. It was a story that held little importance after listening, as a child, to Jess’s story of the man in the tent dead from a cut throat in a place of stones far out on a site that formed the latest front. Jess at least had a story worth telling since there were no such tales of love like mine, at least not in the army during the Second War.
  I was among that generation marked (psychologically in my case) by the Vietnam War. We had been busy smoking pot one morning, ingesting opium in the afternoon, the moon landing on the muted TV all day, and my most recent, my second, wife, the only other one I truly loved among the three women I married before Cathleen, stayed in her room off to the side of the kitchen reading the Iliad in tandem with the Odyssey. It was her second time through and this time was the slowest. When Odysseus went down to confer with Achilles, and learned life was so much better than death, the one known for his dissembling knew the one with the vulnerable heel was advising him to go home. So after ten years of wandering, he did. His wife had staved off the suitors, their son told him. When he spoke of it she said nothing as though it were more important what he believed, finally, than what had actually occurred.

(28 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, May 27, 2013

To Her Shade

Salt leaves ridges in the wharf’s legs
two feet never negotiate
if water has no floor to wade.
When summer enters with the tide,
only the not human breathes long–
diastole, systole–soon or late.

You grow naked in memory.
I filled the rapture of your flesh
with fucking we shared easily
once our love was made sensible–
vagina welcoming penis.
We meshed so well I grew graceful.

I found your nighthouse only once,
your street too dark to feel at home.
Curtains covered your bay windows.
Downhill lay the sea, near the steps
I climbed the light to call your name.
You or your echo heard my voice.

We entered another harbor.
You stood where I scarred my forehead
when high waves pitched me into sand.
You stayed with me. But no longer.
The sky called so loud you answered.
Life was too brief to live with dread.

with love to Betty, 1938–2009

(27 May 2013: II)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


No one’s so alive in memory as the dead.
We know life has its limit, but loving
betrayed by death says no prayer so deep
as traveling the arch of this rainbow.
If there is somewhere spirits come together
like their bodies, passionately, on earth,
we may relearn walking, and talk and laugh
in a long dream known as eternity.

(27 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, May 26, 2013


They married in ’34, in ’36 Bobby was born and died,
Floyce came two years later. They always said,
If not for Mr. Roosevelt we’d all be dead.
With no other evidence of life than a body’s breath,
bodies graduating, the son called it, from the long rows
of cotton bloodying their fingers, weighing their shoulders
as each bag was filled with a hundred pounds
before beginning with one empty, as though yokes
grew out of their necks . . . and after that the higher degrees
of underground heat, grown men who rode the flat beds
down before dawn and after dark riding them up
to wash off enough coal dust to see the road home,
take a long tub bath, eat and sleep, get up again
before dark for another day in the coal mines
near the camp where his father was born, Mine 18
before its name was changed to Jenny Lind,
the Swedish nightingale, who never visited.
The son climbed trees watching for passers-by
along the dirt road where his mother said she saw
men in white gowns and hats riding horses somewhere.
Someone’s not taking care of his family, he remembered
his mother said the man who raised her said.
You saw the Klan go by, her son offered.
That came before FDR saved their lives.
He was grown and had gone through school as far
as a body can. This one believed in evolution.
Then he saw for himself revolution
in the making. He married one. She made
another possible. He threw in his hand to hold beauty
in his arms. Irish, she wanted to help America stay
alive. She never stopped believing in the man
from Oahu, our president Obama, a real man,
she said. He feels into the heart of our country.

for Karenlee, and May 26, 1972

(26 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Art as Play

You can’t call the guy an artist, he’s too fucked up.
You better not call him fucked up either.
There are limits to a wild man’s patience,
especially since he sleeps with a wild woman,
who tries his patience only in the way he talks
to her, not the way he holds her inside
his arms, or where he drives then rides his tongue.
She says he feels awfully big down there
before she puts him in her mouth, soixante neuf.
He always wanted to learn how to paint,
but poor boys settle for writing poems,
you need only a pencil and paper,
courage to defeat the rise of euphemisms,
how he was taught in the old days
to find the right word to say what you mean.
If he’s fucked up, he may as well say so.
She says, Fuck me, and he does. She loves him.
She’s had plenty of chances for comparison.
He’s not talking about his. He’s the one writing.
He’s no artist. He plays too much. He’s never done.
(25 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, May 24, 2013


If you were thrown, or jumped, into deep water and did not drown, you were swimming.
You couldn’t swim, but you didn’t drown either. What was that called? Yes, “swimming.”

Your father didn’t know what to say. Only, “I had to learn to swim.” Said he was young
enough to work from sunup to sundown, all he had to do was see how his brothers did it,
but when they threw him in the gravel pit filled with years of rainwater and runoff, he couldn’t touch bottom so he floated on his back to keep from going under. When you swim, his son, you do the same. You learn to dive so deep you touch bottom because you’re his son. Heir to his life as he always lived, sunup to sundown but sleeping now in his big chair.

That was too far away when you swam naked in the river, or was that what you dreamed last night? Memory stays. She took her clothes off and you followed her brown skin into the water, and after a little while you followed her out and you lay with her on the blanket she had spread to keep your bodies out of the dirt, even though the blanket was soon wet and each of you, locked with your legs between hers embracing your waist, you rolled off without thinking, she followed, you didn’t care what you thought. Caring was for later . . .

(24 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fatherly Love

Father loved him so he taught him to work by example, a grown man out every day on the tractor, in the vineyards he’d planted by hand. With his son’s help. “Don’t jerk the chain, ease up on the clutch when you let it out, I’ll push, you pull.” Something like that, when he was age eight. Looking back, trying to remember it all and failing, he feels his heart in his gut.

A year later and the year following, he picked fruit with his father between the school bus runs and the hoeing and discing and irrigating in the vineyards he was learning to do by watching his father and asking questions and seeing how it was done rather than being told, which was learning that didn’t last; he had to do it himself to know. They didn’t teach him like that at school. There, it was called “doing problems.”

The next year he took the red-haired voluptuous Mary Jane to the downtown movie theater, to see Knock on Any Door, and he thought she would ooh and ahh at young John Derek in his first role. She seemed more impressed with Humphrey Bogart. Remembering now, he realizes the guy she married looked a lot like Bogie except you could tell the guy never read a book or, for that matter, was ever sweet on more than one girl. And now Mary Jane would not permit Father’s only living son’s hand to reach between her legs. When he took her to her daddy’s door she kissed him lightly on the lips. 

The best thing that ever happened between the ages of eight and sixteen, between helping his father and working in the canneries and potato warehouses, was Irene. You’ve heard so much of her you don’t need more. She was my first love in more than the one way I had known until then. She taught me to love her and I loved her back and we should have kept on, I sometimes think, but then remember . . . What I’m talking about here is how my father taught me to work. I went to work every day I wasn’t in school. When my last year began I became a linebacker and that spring a pitcher. I did well. One night I made my father proud standing on the fifty-yard line.

I realize now I talked about all this in the other stuff I wrote about Irene. I loved her last name, Castenada, with a tilde over the “n.” I’ve described her enough; it doesn’t help bring her back, and besides, my love of fifty years is the most beautiful woman to look at and the most impressive to listen to, the most beautiful and the most brilliant; so I love to say, especially when I think to tell her. She comes up and kisses and offers other amenities. She’s the best lover and best cook and she never stops working toward the book she needs to write as she works to keep me alive to write this one. Is that what I’m doing? If I were, why wouldn’t I be writing in a more consecutive fashion, where being born precedes crawling, which comes before walking, etc. . . .

(23 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sierra Oriente

Some can’t do a long life if it’s too short
or their wings wet and refusing to dry.
They can’t fly then. Their breath quits trying to
overcome what they fear most, the image
of flesh peeling off as fire licks their bones.
The voice is gone. It goes first. Who knows where?

I thought I knew. I said to the master,
Help me go where I can gain mastery
over fear of failure, of death, the mute
caroling in my head of bells tolling
from one end of the plaza, mercado
o cementerio in Cuetzalan,

where living neither there nor here I knew
secrets would be found if I were lifted
to the sierra. The great wings were dry
by then, lost I would be found, the body
illuminating its treacherous caves,
what could be smuggled over life’s border.

(22 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Night Out

Screams rattle the amphitheater
of lost dreams. A horror film
in progress nears its end.
I’m restless; aren’t you,
without your bouffant hairdo?
Swarms of bumblebees
fill the high grass by the ocean.
I was mere boy with a scythe
cutting into their playground
by a river irrigating the valley,
a place to grow and even die
if you surrendered your future,
married and raised children.
I did not want to die, he said.
You will die anyway, he heard.
Too young to say, Not here,
he left town. Then many towns.
Cities too. Then hummingbirds
drank the cup of his long life.
They were the brilliant,
the beautiful he needed.
Did they need him? How did
he know? He was there early.
The crowd was just entering.
He knew a good movie when
he saw one directed by you.
I always preferred the dark.
We stayed too late to sleep.
So we made what’s called love.
Living was all there was to do.

(21 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Age

for Jim Barker, Robert Cole, and Johnnetta Cole

How do you keep pace with the age?
Your age, sons and daughters, the young
who never listen. Do your thing, old man.
Selma was nearly fifty years ago.
My old friend, my contemporary now
in Alaska, is taking his photographs there
to show. He calls and we talk of old times,
how much was won that may be lost
if the racists happen to take over.
I refuse to say how lucky we were
to be alive, it’s too much like Wordsworth
in an age more befitting Coleridge,
if you must choose. Love and revolution
subdued by the drugs that bring you pleasure,
which was once nothing more than a poem
to seek the company of the great ones.
Jim wants to know who the man is
riding in the van in his photograph
shot just before the driver said, Get down,
we don’t want you to be seen from the street.
All Jim recalls is, A white man married
to a black woman. Instantly I know
whose was the one interracial marriage
where we lived then. Robert and Johnnetta,
and from Pullman, Washington, to Amherst,
Massachusetts, I followed them without
knowing they would be there. I asked,
Where’s Johnnetta? Bob said, Try Cienfuegos.
Twenty years later Clinton dropped her name
from his potential cabinet members
because the racists protested she was
a revolutionary and still is!
In Jim’s 1965 photograph
the anthropology prof is not there
with her Marxist-economics-teacher
husband; and now when the American
president, the son of a white woman,
says, Sometimes I think I’m just another
black man they’re trying to keep down . . .
but I know the nation depends on me,
so I get past all that and back to work,
I vow never to stop trying to write.
The least I can do. Stop thinking of who
among those who come after me
will read what was written on history’s
magic slate, that old tabula rasa . . .
Learning my long life through what must be done
to leave words behind my bones and ashes.

(20 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Song or Poem

I do not know
where the guitar goes
when my song is ended.

No strings broken
to be replaced, drawn
tight over the last bridge.

O Brooklyn Bridge, shining in the darkness
what’s the sound of foot traffic doing here,
where the brave, sad poet wrote the night through?

Why did others think him wild in his day?
Who set the moral tone of his dark time,
when a man loving a man was a crime?

Coming home from Mexico his friend’s wife
was on her own and wanted to love him,
but could not lead him into her own life.

You can make a song out of nothing else
but words he left alone to let them breathe
the island air as he swam out to sea.

I don’t know how
to make this a song.
It’s a poem gone wrong.

Siqueiros sat him down and drew his face
bent over drafts of The Broken Tower
to be Collected Poems’ frontispiece.

Harold Hart Crane
was doomed from the start
to have no life but art.

(19 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What Remains

The little demons appear after dark to survey what’s left.
It’s never much. They frisk and flounce and dance until day breaks through.
They’ve known since birth what’s coming. All that remains to be done
is live it. There is no language like theirs. That’s why they’re demons.
What new world could ever do them proud? They have their own. Hear them
listen. When the sky purples the rest of the day glides west.

(18 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, May 17, 2013

To Whom

Insane but innocuous to himself.
Waddle like a walking whale to breakfast.
He says so little you remember what
he said yesterday or the day before,
his minimal reply to the person
speaking who finally stopped and waited.
It takes a day or so, one life or more.
No reason to forget life at the ranch.
Senoritas in their summer getup.
Huevos rancheros whenever he wished.
Enchiladas by design served only
once a day, if that, by the senora.
The smell of the land wafting from horses
who let no one ride new in the saddle.
Cicada nights. Cicada days. Summer.
The Chevy pickup he learned to drive in.
Grandfather’s mother, grandmother’s father
never spoke of dying, not in ingles.
Their daughter only through their son’s marriage
loved them much more than their son said he did.
Why he remembers only life with her.
How strange his life is to him here. Remote.
He arrived here only to be with her.
Her olive skin. Voluptuous body.
Bright thoughts emerging through her ruby lips.
Her dancing smile. Cheeks glowing. Her pleasure.
She talked to animals and they listened.
Not so to him. He lived too far inside.

In here? Why not farther south, on the ranch?
Backward. Where time is. To whom will listen.

(17 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, May 16, 2013


In the event, one defeated and killed
another. The sky wept. Convenient
as that sounds. Like someone sweeping the floor.
A cripple climbing then descending stairs.
Or a dog following the killer’s scent.
The victim. So much was loosed on the world.

Where do killers go to kill the willing?
for one may kill if they do not die young.
Only two spar where there is but one slave.
She goes home with the victor to make love
a duel. Only fitting for one who weeps
in the morning after his restless sleep.

Fast forward millennia to a war.
A young man, a brave one, fights on a field
far away. If he stayed home, he’d be weird,
do dope, drink, sleep late, never be aware
what he misses now he will reap later,
though he knows, too, there is no end to war.

Who does not prefer to remember those
no one could know? To whom nothing happens.
They live if they leave early. It is late,
others like him are wandering the streets.
They have guns. They give him a knife. He kills
quickly. There are too many guns. He falls.

In real life men are locked into cages
until one is dead. When the gate opens,
nothing is the same. He finds his mother
if he dies. He never had a father
if he wins. He knows a woman, a man,
not some god, carries us into old age.

(16 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Memory with Eyes


There’s always a country different from yours.
Where the air is not so close. Where storms are
about to rage or raging already,
land sliding away and people with it.

You have learned to live here. You go nowhere.
How does it feel to live between oceans?
Like a river, you say. Always running.
Between two banks. Nothing like a sea shore.

What’s yours is mine, so now I can say I
am waking, sleeping, eating, and loving
in a way only you know how to do,
it is nothing like the way I was born.

When storms come here rivers dry up. Water
sucked upward by such air never returns.
When I go to sleep with problems, a dream
may turn to say, I am your solution.

I start for one coast and reach the other.
I like to get lost. Anything to live.
There are so many here who never leave.
They are fortunate to know where they are.

Unlike me, they stay. If they have problems,
they ask until they get the right answer.
They know I am one who can only ask.
Sometimes they come to me to ask for them.


No one knows a native from an exile.
One of the two knows how to stay alive
by learning to sacrifice the other.
There is a third one, Memory with Eyes.

When you can see nothing this one sees it,
though there are some things better forgotten
if not left invisible. This one, say:
Memory with Eyes you see vanishes.

Then you have to find another somewhere.
That means it must find you because it loves
to be needed. Something with no body.
Something that would trade memory for flesh.

This outlier anomalous inside
evokes without words the absence of names
in a country that is nothing but sky
whose clouds are letters of the alphabet.

(15 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In the Cave

In the cave I can read Plato when I’m not viewing films
whose theory is they are our images parading the wall,
if light upon shadow is who we are or will become.
I can hope against hope the planet will find a door
that opens to let life crawl through. Welcome the sun
like a long-lost relative whose warmth is native to touch.

In the cave the film adaptation of Plato’s Republic
means little to the elders. They remember the soldiers
and the slaves,. They lived through the perfection
and found the hole at the other end of the long corridor
by following the streaming light projecting the new life.
I am one of the old people now. I have too much to say.

But I listen. The nighthawks pursue the bats for a meal
and sleep with the sounds of human breath echoing here
where dreams have become more prophecy than memory.
When my love tells me I have no wrinkles in my skin, 
I count myself among those who have yet to begin to live.
Let the fire in her eyes glow brightly and our life begin.

(14 May 2013) 

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, May 13, 2013

Jinni Land

I am not with it when I first appear,
it takes me years
to find the tempo
to turn a lost cause on its head
and see it from underground
where they live and I must never go.

(13 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, May 12, 2013

. . . and Over

As for Dee, why say
the night is his
for the taking . . .
He knows how he lives
and why.

I was a whore once
on Miami Beach,
where the rich guys
come looking for you
to ask you, How much?
or Cuanto?
It’s a living.
My old man was gone,
mother sold herself,
she said I wasn’t
too good to let men
fuck me, she did . . .

He puts his book
back on the shelf.
Memoirs in progress,
he calls it Poe,
not Dee,
sharpens his pencil
and sleeps for an hour,
maybe two, but up
in time
for closing time.
That’s when the marks
appear outside,
wait for you to score.
They love to offer

I comb my blond mane
and let it hang
to my shoulders,
leaving my bed
to work in theirs.

(12 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, May 11, 2013

On Edge

Black Prospero,
Beasley declares,
is a lie. He would go
to Haiti, but why?
Stay here
without milk or honey,
or money.

He is working
for nothing,
fighting dying,
maybe even singing.

Angel returns her wings.
Magic is mirage.

(11 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, May 10, 2013

Intimations of Impeachment

No need to allow an intern to adore your cock.
You can be the most loving husband in the world,
the fascists love to bring the revered down to size,
angry elves on their way to the conflagration.

(10 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Grover Norquist at NRA

We have power now we shall not yield,
no saying Uncle if we lose an election.
We don’t want a Father Obama,
all we need do is keep the Tea Party
in gerrymandered states we’ll never lose.
Do what we want. Don’t vote with Obama.
If he sides with you change your vote.
Make him do what you want.
Drown the government in a bathtub,
regulation size.
Keep your gunpowder dry!

(9 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Densities

The years pass over themselves like leaves filling budding branches,
rain girdling then flooding the base of the tree where its roots drink
listening to the voices of thunder,
seeing the yellow and white eyes of lightning ignite black sky;

or a man or woman pay with the coin
embossed with Maria Theresa’s face
that nomads covet as the price
of life in oases where water’s sold,

a coin completely worthless in the bordertowns,
sky jagged in the south, a burst of wind
wrecking frail stick walls and their plastic shelter falls
as cars go by, never stopping, headed for the city

a thousand miles away. Far north the crowds of Canada flow
to the lakes where the dying come to renew life
in their broken cells. There is hope–so it’s called–
that death’s wilderness never be among the known

densities. Emptiness yawns. We call through the dread silences
to wraiths, our soundings spilling to the killing floor, abattoirs
of Pandemonium . . . When was that ever more than a name
coined by blind Milton to buttress what no one knows . . . 

(8 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


The wandering rocks have no shore. Sleep off love.
The only end to romance, good or bad,
is death. You may as well enjoy living.
Our clash, its come and go, a moving thing.
Hunker in your house. Greet her, entering.
This was the old story, it is the new
multivolume novel of the known life.
Hereafter all is lost to memory.
There were so many who came before us.
There were always those who divided us.
You drew the first line, then I the second; 
off stage, waiting, freshly minted stand-ins.

In his blindness, Homer traced the new maps
with the moon’s tides, the wild wind-crashing waves.

(for BR, R.I.P.; PJ; MJ; & most of all, KL)

(7 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, May 6, 2013


Take guns and build a witch’s pyre,
bury the bullets, burn all the other
peraphernalia. Start to forget
your unnecessarily dead, your kin
murdered by drinkers, whoremongers, and thieves.

Don’t forget drinking in San Diego
to consider buying a .38
so you could continue becoming wild
telling Hell’s Angels what you thought of them,
their president dancing on the girl’s face.

You couldn’t stop watching Gimme Shelter.
In her trailer with her white pussy, she
asked, Do you want to go to Altamont?
She did. We were a thousand miles away
and she was okay for a one-night stand.

When summer came you were ready to go.
You left town, wheat fields, old loves, you went south
shaving the reaper close with his own scythe,
white hair falling from his beard into yours,
what would you have done with the grass that high?

Altamont comes after the Rolling Stones
in their quarters by the old speedway tracks.
Mick Jagger plays Meredith Hunter’s death,
then plays it again . . . How did this happen?
You can see his consternation on view.

In Virginia, your great grandfather dead;
his son, your grandfather, in Sallisaw.
You have to consider the odds: Die young
being brave or stay alive, growing old
learning to write until you get it right.

(6 May 2013) 

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, May 5, 2013

En cinco de mayo


I no longer go to Mexico,
though Mexico
may come to me
in my sleep.

I dream she goes there.
Or is she in Venice now?
That is when I wake
but never know the hour.

Now I work,
if you can call it work,
this finger dancing
I do every day.

Or is she in Amsterdam?
another city I’ll never know
now I’ve never learned to swim
and have put down my horn.

She comes up to me
where my table is
and floors me
with her uncommon beauty,

I don’t know who she is.
I memorize her face.
All I know I feel
like the sound of espanol.

She’s kept her distance
since learning my story.
Who could blame her?
Water wears every thing down.

I was walking the Alameda,
the Museum of Anthropology
with Betty. She died recently
in Sausalito. I was here.

I’m on the corner of Mina
y Buenavista,
crossing the street between
Hotels Ibero and Londres.

I know enough Spanish
to deliver in a pinch.
But no Italian,
no Dutch.


The joke is on me
if I'm not there to hear.
I never know where
I am or what I see.

I don’t remember.
I take a walk or two
and sit a while in bars,
dreaming what I know.

Time comes I go home.
Cathleen is my bruja
and I her brujo.
Magic is what we have.

She is always here,
even when she’s only near
with another man
and I with the same woman.

My song’s gone wrong,
this ladder of quatrains.
The woman who returns
sings her own song.

(5 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Her Corner

is Jacqui’s own.
Dee comes down
on occasion.
He will be her father.
Nor need he sample
her wares.

Under Alaskan Way,
cars barreling over
her head, debris
falling into her hair,
neither she
nor he is going back.

She works alone.
She has no time
for an island
here in the midst
of death.
She must stay alive.

Angel comes
Arieling in.
Jacqui sends her off
with bad news.
Beasley returns.
He’s kept his charm.

Angel bades
her wings goodbye.
If only
she had a brothel
of her own
they could prosper.

You see, she says,
the few own
yet we are too small.
Only money
begets money.

(4 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, May 3, 2013

Discovery of the Corporation

There will be no Ferdinand for this Miranda.
Jacqui will go on plying her wares
in the city, yes, taking the ferry
and fending off the pimps
as Beasley searches through
A Book of Water 
for a way to whip up the Sound into a storm.
Black Prospero is conflicted now
and ambivalence never led anywhere for him.
There will be no Ferdinand
because A  Book of Water is too antiquated
to address the subject of ferries.
No one among them owns a car.
A ferry is not like a ship.
Gerry tells Jacqui through Angel
on a trip unscheduled for Ariel:
Dear daughter, while employed to satisfy men,
curry favor that you might buy a car
or even better, settle for a loaner.
By the time you get here I will have found
a way to sink the ferry so you may find
your Ferdinand. If you can get a truck,
load it with wildlife that would love 
to return to the land they once came from.
Ideally, Angel would have with her a pill
for deer and bear, if there be bear
on the pre-dawn avenues; and a pill
for night birds to find in their eyries
and fall into Angel’s Ariel arms
to cross the water with you and wake here
in time to rouse a riot on the ferry
so very suddenly and with such alarm
a storm will follow.

Dee reads Beasley’s note. What would Poe do?
Prospero would know nothing of Poe,
though Poe would know of Prospero.
Dee decides to catch the next ferry 
to Seattle. There, Caliban will devolve
to become like the beast that rules the world.
Caliban will learn more of cities reading Poe.
Caliban will discover the new Prospero,
the one without humanity entirely,
the one who is too many to be one only.
What’s rich and strange suffers no sea change.
What’s strange will be rich but always ugly.

(3 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Father Lover

If only, Prospero says to himself
or is it to his wand?–
if only fatherhood could sell my child,
what bitter winter would I endure?
May I fall in the death grip of deep snow
banked and girdled by the cold winds’ ice.
May I freeze if beloved Angel fall
under my husbandly spell and smell of men
intent on crowning themselves patriarchs.
Wand that once wove your way
into her late mother’s pouch, spill your semen
like the Torah’s Onan.

Ah, Beasley, aren’t you the right-thinking ass
off the market for a season or two
until you tire of No Man’s Island,
limp back to the city with your cock hunched
and prodding your thighs to keep moving on,
opening your buttocks to a mirror
you cannot see with your back fully turned.
Angel can’t be both Ariel and Miranda.
Who plays your daughter sucked your cock
one day. Jacqui thought you more male than I.

So Dee says and curls up with Poe’s tales,
wondering if he might emulate Prospero
a la Beasley and complete The Narrative
of Arthur Gordon Pym. Gods surely know
it’s cold enough now winter’s falling down
with the rain, snow having found its haven
north and east of where Olympus
is visible from this shore.

Jacqui misses her trade. She would like to suck
Dee’s cock if Gerry insists he be her father
in his ersatz Shakespeare. She wonders then,
Did his mother take Dee for pleasure
to her bed? Not in the slightest
does he resemble Elvis or JFK . . . 
Jacqui wonders who will be her Ferdinand.
She has fallen into such a world
where her cunt was fathered
by this incestuous male whore.

(2 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mama Tempest

They gathered to hear Angel tell them of her trip
to the city. As Dee listened, the light
in his eyes flickered. Angel never talked
to him alone, although she sometimes asked,
Were you born here? (Beasley had told her that.)
Dee did not remember, though his mother
came from here, had lived in this wilderness.
He remembered her blue eyes, her red hair
to her hips. She was a witch in her youth.
Like her, he stared through trees to where the sea
pitched salt spray higher than his memories
of Seattle, living underground, reading Poe.
Beasley’s dying wish to write his Tempest
led Dee back here to play his Caliban. 
He must have been a slave when he was young.
For him whoring was no barbarous art.
Hourly, Dee retched to purge his body’s waste.
He’d be happy to leave No Man’s Island, 
where surely he was born inside a storm.
He did not consider himself a man,
he preferred to be a woman. How could
he be one here? He’d have to start over.
Mama Tempest had gone to Manhattan
to be an ecdysiast, removing her clothes
slowly from her tall body, bold now as ever,
she said in her annual letter to Dee.
Once she had been Elvis Presley’s lover.
At seventy she kept on performing,
still statuesque as she stripped, the young turks
of Wall Street all hoping to be chosen
to profit from her secrets of intimacy,
though she quickly pumped each one dry,
told him to be gone by dawn, once night birds
had flown, the deer leaving the streets
to trucks pouring water over their tracks.

(1 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander