Sunday, March 31, 2013

Conversations about Shakespeare

Beasley was among the chosen
so many years before the plague.
Reagan would not say the word AIDS.
Beasley’s ghost returned to haunt me.
I read Hamlet with two new eyes,
my inner ear spun me dizzy,
the scars of a nation still here,
each name on the Memorial
Maya Lin created for us
to remember always the deep
warning we ignore, Viet Nam,
the war that never truly ends.
Because Beasley and his brethren
were no part of America’s
ave atque vale, they go
unremembered by a people
without pity. Those who live by
the body’s bounty must settle
not in heaven but on earth for
conversations about Shakespeare.

(31 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Mousetrap

I came home because my father was dead.
My mother married his brother
who owned the land I was born on.
It was marriage carried with it such spoils.
Who can say he loved my mother
more than the wealth of a thousand acres?
My uncle, the villain, duped my mother.
Irene Castenada saved my sad soul.
She knew her father’s mind: he said Manuel
was murdered by mustangs trapped in a box
canyon, where my uncle’s men had held them
while he went to bring my father out there,
he and his men suddenly moving off
to one side, hooves pounding my father’s head
into the alkali waste, the thick dust . . .
I took my uncle and mother to town
to sit through a performance of Hamlet.
Shakespearean players wandered from town
to town in days that seem gone forever.
Beside me Irene loved Ophelia,
though they bore not the slightest resemblance.
When the troupe arrived on stage and Hamlet
vowed to trap the conscience of the new king
in the mousetrap of the play set for him,
Irene gasped, Dios mio! and we saw
my uncle rise halfway through to sweep up
the aisles as the audience turned to watch
him bluster through the door, the mousetrap sprung.
You know the rest, reader, how my uncle’s
hired gun shot me and Irene saved me,
throwing her body over mine
as my Horatio, my friend Horace,
shot the man and my uncle, my mother
twice widowed now. Irene never believed
I’d marry her, I asked her and she did.
Horace managed the ranch that stretched as far
as the eye could see, there was so little
to see other than the land in those days.
I gave Irene the children she gave me.
I sat in the crisp air of the first light
pondering with a pen what I had learned
in life as brief as mine had been thus far.

(30 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, March 29, 2013

At "The Golden Lion"

I called Earlene Terri. She got off work and I drove her downtown,
but ran out of gas on Queen Anne Hill. The cab driver said, Put out your cigarette.
We were on the last leg of our round trip, the gas can full, my wrist watch collateral.
Terri chided me, You want to blow us up? And moving closer, We're just starting . . .
We paid the cab, emptied the can in the tank, drove down to the station, time passing
waiting there. I wanted to show her the city Wall had shown to me. Beasley welcomed us.
I had not seen him since the dance after hours under the street. He was the writer
Wall said he was and never asked me to read his work. He talked about it only when asked.
Terri embraced him, a white Southern girl embracing a black Midwestern homosexual.
He spoke of Minneapolis, she of New Orleans. The floor show began, or was it ending?
I remember only the female impersonator with python wrapped around her neck
like a stole. She was very tall, slim, a redhead, her mane looked real though Terri said
it was a hairpiece. She performed with the grace only the outcast can bring off.
She danced to music I recognized years later while watching Bob Fosse's film Cabaret.
The python slithered across her shoulders with her sinuous motion across the stage
and back, balanced perfectly on her five-inch heels, for all this world looking the part
of some Marlene Dietrich, a kind of doppelganger modeled on Blonde Venus.
Terri kissed Gerry Beasley on the lips and held him close a moment, her lips with his.
He and I shook hands like brothers sometimes do, I have heard.

Terri wanted to go somewhere to make love. I suggested Jim and Marge’s place.
They were no longer reading Sophocles, like they had in their downtown
hotel room whose window faced the brick wall while sharing Oedipus Rex;
they lived now below Aurora, where she turned tricks and he was dealing dope.
Marge showed us the back room, behind the curtain for a door, a mattress
on the floor, clean sheets, she said . . .

We left very early, the rain falling slowly like always. Driving back she moved closer,
put an arm around me, and kissed my neck, then began unbuttoning my shirt until
I asked if she wanted to go to my place before going home. What we had been unable
to do below Aurora, we completed on my couch across the street from the Hasty Tasty.
When I drove her to her place on the hill near Hotel Congress, she looked in on her son,
that sweet boy with his club foot and how many dreams to be dared and lived and
. . . I do not know what happened to his dreams after they left Seattle to return
to her home outside New Orleans, where she wrote to me until she married again,
and after that silence, though I lurch ahead too far ahead . . . Jim said he and Marge were
awakened early, before dawn, three cops came to arrest them, and sitting in his cell
he claimed he did not know why.

I never returned to The Golden Lion, never saw Beasley again. Wall said he heard he died.
I often wonder if he ever completed his Hamlet Western and if so, what form it found.

(29 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, March 28, 2013


As for the future, we’re at the top now,
ready to start sliding, picking up speed
approaching the bottom, where we careen
in the wildest way out of our control.

The future was once guided by the past.
Now the old days catch us like a boulder
left out of sight all these years one present
passed the last going fast toward the future.

Now there is no nature that does not rip
through the sky’s roof to take us by surprise.
Men who want total power are the same
sans surprise. They have souls that wield sharp bones.

Men want women to stay in the dark caves
attending to them when they bring home meat.
They get what’s left on the bone. Their children
pour out of their wounded bodies. We live

a moment before beginning to die.
That’s life in the city, in the country.
Best to wander the earth’s open fields
before walking the city’s streets and towers.

(28 March 2013)  

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

robert henry st. clair

because he knows no one who does not know him
a day is as bitter on his tongue as the night is sweet

he has given up the old dream of becoming, he is
nowhere he has not been that did not make him

these streets have changed him from the first
these are the streets that will leave him here to last

as in endure or die

(27 march 2013)

copyright 2013 by floyce alexander

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gardens of Earthly Terror

They could be out of Bosch, but I can’t find the book
full of colored plates that unfold into the triptych,
so I need to remember what I don’t know
and can’t now, it was all there before I was born.
Charles McAlexander on his sorghum field
seeing the neighbor wrestling with a headstone
helps him through the task and inside the house,
the neighbor’s, sits watching the man he knows sober
drinking, insisting he take one too, Charles saying no
going to the door but gets no farther than the knob
when the shotgun blows buckshot into the back
of his head. This I have heard happened in Virginia
on a farm in the mountains outside Woolwine town
seventy-five years before Abraham Alexander stood
staunchly in the way of the two men and one woman
present to rob the house of the man who left it to go
I know not where, beyond Sallisaw. I do know some
time later I learned of that and how the men showed
the judge their Masonic rings and the woman must
have stayed with both of them after that, for she was
in the culvert by the highway that ran past Diddier’s
outdoor dancehall on the way to Fort Smith pooled
in her own blood, and theirs, my father stopping
in a squeal of breaks from his 1937 Chevrolet sedan
to say who they are, my mother shielding her eyes,
one son born and dead, and another not yet born.
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys played for dances
at Diddier’s. My mother said they died because God
willed it, my father silent, remembering his father
living alone in Sallisaw when he and his brothers
visited from the farm south of there. His mother was
a bitch, his father said, but served them sandwiches
of peanut butter and jelly on white bread and made
them agree, This was all like being alive in heaven.
When I look at the pictures I become one of them.
When I gaze at Bosch I believe I can see where
they were born, Earthly Delights, Abraham left
to ride with his murderous brothers south. One
killed the black man in town with a razorsharp knife
because the man taunted them every time they came
to Woolwine, my father saying what his father said.
I like living where guns are called culture. I feel safe
in the bosom of my ancestors feeding hungry worms.
I tramp the fields prepared now to mete out justice.

(26 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, March 25, 2013



You are my Eire.
She was his Espana.
Like you, she looks
straight out, takes
him to her, I want
to paint
that gaze.
It is all I need.
I work to make
you mine. No one is
so magnificent
in their skin
as burnished olive
in your shadow’s light.

2. Goya:

Yes, it is my work,
I tell the pontiffs
of grief’s perfection.
They listen,
I give them that.
Take off their clothes:
bodies pale, grotesque.
I have no reason
to celebrate
what I see but her
true face concealed,
her body naked
beauty God gave 
all us heretics.

to Karenlee
after Goya’s Maja desnuda

(25 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hunters in the Snow

1. From Memory

Old Bruegel drew them from memory,
arranged together on the winter hillside,
their rifles held just so, walking softly
on the crust of snow between bare trees
on the downslope. I can see no farther,
imagining far down. A painting can’t hold
more than its frame allows, but frames
are made to order and by the painter.
None of that mattered to the hunters.
Why they were there only they knew.
You can’t even see their faces from here.
How could you know what Bruegel saw?

2. A Painting

None of the town is up here. There are dogs
following these men. How could you know why?
You see birds on limbs; one flying has wings
maybe inherited from pterodactyls.
There are figures on both sides of a river’s
ice divided by a land bridge. The bridge
built by men holds one soul walking across.
Up here, three hunters, one in shadow,
all going down, two others staying where
they build and tend a fire in back of . . . whose house?
another busy doing what I’ll never know.
Those far away live under the mountains.

(24 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, March 23, 2013

He. She. Her. Him

In the rush to live he found his maker
sleeping. He was only the god of war.

He’s gone out alone to be heroic.
He’s seen humanity’s face dull with death.

She who has been waiting storms the boudoir.
She yanks the girl’s hair, feathers floating down.

Who is going to be her man now she’s
banished him to the shadows of her house?

He goes back where he can talk to himself
and pay a woman to calm him inside.

She waits, but not for him, there is much work
to do, everything ahead, all her works.

The woman who takes off her clothes for men
is not she inhabiting the mirror.

The war he can’t forget or remember.
From far off he saw men crowding his house.

The blind always know him. His son can see
what’s coming with the clouds like shooting stars

and dreams of a life without a father.
Are there ever enough to go around?

(23 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, March 22, 2013


November 1, 1972.
The day Pound dies she drives away.
I take a comely lass to bed.
She finds a man in Wyoming.
I stretch her full-length nude poster
photographed by her last lover
in the woods behind her house in Marin.
It spans the length of the dining-room wall,
behind the table where I drink
and wind sifts through the prefab cracks.
Friends come to read their work aloud
and listen. When I run out of money,
the guy who shoots heroin splits the rent
to have a place for friends to fix, nod out–
come back to life, he does not add.
I walk to town to eat and write
to find out what I’ve learned. I kick him out.
I sate my hunger with willing women.
Those I might love, who might love me,
go away. I drink. I rail against ghosts.
I wonder, Do they know? I ride
with O’Hara north of Montpelier.
In his friend’s house in midwinter,
snow banked outside to keep heat in,
we drink and shoot pool. Christmas approaching,
I call to hear her voice across the continent.
She declares she wants to come back.
Her widowed mother is being her self,
she says, what she grew up with;
she’s designing clothes downtown
but her boss won’t let her alone;
one night drunk in the city’s best hotel
was enough. I tell her I’ll come
and drive her back. Home, I say.
First I fly out of Bradley Field
and as the plane reaches the clouds
the pilot reports a near collision.
I order a stronger drink.
In Chicago I miss the next flight out,
leaving in the bar my poem called Death,
for Miguel Hernandez. I never remembered
what I wrote in my testament to his courage
while mourning his death in Franco’s prison.
Last summer, on the road to Bolinas,
I asked a hitchhiker just home from Spain
why Spaniards let Franco stay in power.
They don’t want more blood, he said,
to seep into and leach the Spanish soil.
Now I make the next flight out,
going the slower way to the Northwest.
In the air, on the way to Minneapolis,
I am reading Neftali Reyes,
drinking from a pint of Cutty Sark,
when this young guy and his girl
engage me in conversation.
The Heights of Macchu Picchu I declare
the centerpiece of Pablo Neruda’s
Residence on Earth, his greatest poem
in Spanish, even in English
if you’re lucky. They take me to their home
and give me their couch and phone. I call her
to let her know I missed the direct flight
and will not arrive until tomorrow.
They drive me to the airport early,
I’m on the plane, drinking, writing poems,
angry with myself
for losing the last poem.
O’Hare is back there
and I’ll not return.
I land in her city, her hometown.
The brother of Vine DeLoria
sits at the bar. We talk. She arrives,
black hair, dark skin, face aglow,
voluptuous, my lifelong lover.
She drives me up the south hill
and beds me and makes love the way
I have grown to know love now.
What more could I want or need?
In San Francisco, New Year’s Eve,
my birthday adds another year.
Our longtime friend Betsy visits,
it turns out to be the last time we meet.
Preparing to drive across the desert,
I order take-out from Solomon’s
on Geary, twenty-five hot pastramis
on rye, and we drive to Albuquerque,
then north, back into New England winter,
in a new year, our first full year.

(22 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Tenderness and resolution!
What is our life without a sudden pillow,
What is death without a ditch?*

Forty-fifth ran parallel to the District,
between there and Bobby’s hotel.
I drove Vicki over the mountain
and brought her back.
We slept together on the floor.
The apartment came without a bed.
She had to love me
to put up with that!
One week I read Hart Crane,
the works, one by one, over and over,
and Philip Horton’s biography,
all because Roethke dissembled,
“I don’t want to read that queer!”

Vicki had blue veins
barely detectable
through her breasts.
She was a small girl.
We made love first and last thing.
She was unhappy with me
when I stayed awake too late
with the painters, sculptors, poets,
and pimps and whores and thieves.
One night I found her after she had left,
she asked me to take her over
the mountain. It was our last night,
in a ski lodge empty of everyone
because we were there out of season.

Like all beautiful small women I knew,
she wanted children, and had chosen
one more dependable than me,
for years later I saw her again,
married with the younger brother
of a friend, and not long after
I learned she had died.
Died childless.
Died still young,
and I found
her grave and recited Reliquary
over a patch of grassy earth
after a night of rain that called to mind
the sad bastard’s last long swim
and his disappearance in time
to give up boys for Peggy, the woman
he made it with but couldn’t stay,
he had all those shipwrecks
to visit. No more pickups, sailors’
cocks in his mouth until both came.
No more phonographs hurled
through the Tates’ second-story
window when Bolero ended,
and what was worse, Vicki said,
no more poems, no more epics, no more
loving or being loved, no desire or need,
she would interrupt me to say
as though it were the refrain
to orality, or my tongue
in her vagina, her mouth around me,
our lives on hold,
about to go the way of all flesh
one by one.


  The Collected Poems of Hart Crane, ed. Waldo Frank (Liveright, 1933)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, March 20, 2013



Where does jive come from?
Bobby asked floycealexander
when they met one sunny day.
Rednecks was his answer,
I oughta know.

Bobby was walking Seattle,
his usual occupation–
best school he knew, the streets.
He stopped in at a bar
on First Avenue,
hoping Myra or their mutual pal
Rosemary would be there.
Entering the swinging door,
he missed DG.
Myra was not there,
nor Rosemary.
No one he knew was in
this time of day.
he sat by a black woman
at the bar
whose name was Ida.
He said, You have the same name
as the suicide’s sister
in Baldwin’s Another Country.
She said, I’ve heard that,
I have to read it sometime.
Then: What’s that, a tablet?
He: A steno pad.
She: You write in that?
When I have something to say.
Ida wanted to go dancing
tonight. Third Avenue,
she added. Meet me there,
white boy. He took the book.
After the place closed,
they went to a coffee shop,
where he read her the long
first chapter, stopping
every five minutes
to say, That’s enough,
to which she said, Go on . . .


This story actually happened.
No, we didn’t have a love affair.
She had a man.
He was working nights.
He was a cop.
She brought him to the Congress
to hear the music.
He said I should sing Irish
tenor. I told him I was
only another baritone.
He also thought I was better
on clarinet. I said
I always wanted to play the sax.
He said, You do
what you can do,
be glad of it.
Ida went along with him.
She said absolutely nothing.
I had hoped she would,
but she adored
the black cop. I listened
to his cop talk.
I just listened. A proud man,
he didn’t know
he was talking jive.

I was of course
thinking what this guy
floycealexander said.
He was a redneck,
he oughta know.
I’m an Irish honkey,
what did I know?
I looked it up.
I knew the noun down here.
Maybe he meant the verb,
or the adjective . . .
I don’t know.
I went back to reading
“I’m a Fool,”
by Sherwood Anderson.
I liked his style.

(20 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Leave your blues 
in your shoes
by the door.
She wanted a house,
she paid down
on one for me.
All I did
was name the cats.
It was easy.
Names are names,
nothing more.
Before I knew
the pipes were full
of ice
I went to the store
to be a plumber.
The neighbor knew
a guy I paid
to get the water
He had a blowtorch.
I sold my tools.
I bought this
useless vein of
blood running
full of words.
I hope
they make a picture
for you.
They do, she said,
I see animals
in the eyes
of your letters.
Some one of us
two comes home,
what we call
the house now.
Even sunshine
opens the door,
a little wind
mixed in.
No love, no blues.
No door, no shoes.

(19 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Day after Green Beer

and the night of orange long division
equals penance, upshot of confession:
You say you want to go back and begin
your life where it ended, and where was that?
Ask the priest who panders to the poor.
Or doesn’t, he so loves his own disgrace,
rather what lies beneath the mask of show
me this, I’ll tell you that, all between you
and me, for now have a good time with
Sally, Mary, and the kids, whoop it up
Protestant style, this nation being nil
Catholic-wise. Smuggle guns one way
or t’other, Ulster once awash with blood.
When Seamus Heaney arrives, let him in.
If Jimmy Joyce were to resurrect, say
something you remember so he can say
what you can't yet commit to memory.
The list tumbles on, Oliver Cromwell,
potato famine, snake holes abandoned,
Ireland too quiet so here comes Wilde,
John Millington Synge, Sean O’Casey, 
love-struck nationalist Willy Yeats.
My darling Clarke, with her long love
embracing the sap who spills into street
and road and risks ignominy with this
spill of nothing not better kept quiet.
Molly Bloom, who says yes but means no
when boys come around with illusory
love dreams beading on their penis tips.
Molly, save a bed swale for Leopold.
He may be a boy, take Stephen for son,
and want to end the long night with you,
but how does he overcome the sad spell
guttering the flesh of girls in Nighttown?
How does my darling remember her men?
The day after, begin all this again?
Rise. Rest. Resume taxation’s aftermath,
declare before the bar of justice
our leaves of pecuniary sin, then await
salvation's refund, planning how to spend 
the money. Order beer whose taste of hops
flows through America's emporiums
engendering love, light, beauty’s rigors . . .
Unruly Romantic, Auld Sod of Eire!

(18 May 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, March 17, 2013


He took away the spoils,
devoured them, swallowed
nothing, spit out fat
to save the chewing
for the tender meat.

A man sat nearby,
cleaning his shotgun.
Wolf kept his distance.
He put out one paw,
kept the other one

to himself. The man
laid his gun aside,
moved to stroke his fur.
Wolf growled. I do not
know what a wolf thinks.

He followed the man
to the kind of house
where the ape man lived
after his childhood
off in Africa.

The man coaxed Wolf: Come
meet my wife. They turned
the corner. She met
her husband’s surprise
nonchalantly, love

pouring through her eyes.
Wolf excused himself.
He went out to drink
with the barn horses.
Then he wandered off.

His mother nursed him,
he was still that young.
Yet he wanted more
than mothers give. He
left in a hurry.

The storms make winter
a bad time for love.
The man knew his house
was no protection
for his stray male heart.

The man drank in town.
He brought a girl home.
His wife shot them both
with his own shotgun.
She cleaned up the blood.

The wolf had followed
them home. He heard screams
like his mother’s voice.
He wanted to lie
with her. She let him.

Their children, half wolf,
half human, bore fruit,
their own strange children.
They ate purple grapes,
an odd wolves diet.

Wolf let the widow
do what she wanted.
She clung to his side.
They loped together
away from children.

I know this story
says nothing new. I
heard it from the men
I worked with in town.
The four-footed ones.

(17 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Poor Wolf

Between your body and mine is this wand
wavering between the wolf and the will
to love one whose transformations conform
to no one’s needs. I don’t know who this is
willing to slake the thirst of an old man
whose wife sacrifices her mind only
to keep alive his own heart and body.

Between your lips and mine comes a slow beat.
A fountain of years pours into your womb.
I go back to my desk. His teeth glower,
his eyes grinding, his desire enigma,
two paws reach out to hold one hand nearby,
fur bristling with the desire to be soothed
or the need to claw me open to kiss

the inconsolable creation’s death,
the glimpse of beginning and end in one
fantasy of passage between two forms,
transmogrification of bayou life
and death so easeful it is warmed by sun
I never see anymore without ice
underfoot, glaring; one step, it’s over,

but at least there is this child to survive,
rendered by will alone to be here poised
upon the stone step. You lift your own heart
to the poor man whose hunger is for love
and nothing else, his hand helping you up
one at a time, each step growing younger,
earth turning, sun dizzy from its axis

and I know no words for the apogee
of life, not when it comes to this, the wind
and its pour of sky making perilous
all I have lived for, the child of my heart
with her sweet belly full of your bounty
and mine. At the top where our blood once flowed
for a rich man’s god, find food for the poor.

(16 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Garden

Let me go
where I’m told not to go,
the dungeons of the poor,
who have no time to pose
for Goya, Van Gogh, old
Bruegel, and do not know
what to say of the Garden
of Earthly Delights,
save this:
You think we are poor
and therefore
as forbidden, ugly, cruel
as you, our captors,
the garden an arena
for our extinction--
you must know,
you landscaped and drew
the borders,
set your dogs with wings
at the gates
to growl, No farther, this
is the entrance
to paradise on earth,
the same here
as it is in heaven,
though enter here
and you earn Hell.

Let me say
why Hell is writ large,
though I am no
or Blake
or any one among poets
and painters
whose world is yours
not mine:
You honor killing here
in imitation of Cain,
or so the man says
who runs this place.
They want
us to lay down pen or brush
and share life! screamed:
A tapestry of blood to prove
the dead are dead,
names scarred, illegible..
Blood to adorn the walls.
All the skulls aligned to warn:
Nothing above,
all below. Pandemonium.
Inferno. Milton, Dante.
Edvard Munch on the bridge
a scream to the very heart
of ice, the devil’s asshole.

Something up here cavorts
twisting its sleek body
to create God’s member,
pulsing with blood before
the angelic dogs at the gate
bellow out the cock’s crow.
No woman born of woman
may proceed, God says,
without a child in her arms
or on her back,
holy fodder
for the next war, the one after,
and the final triumph
when only I am here
to begin again what humanity
put asunder.
Ah, perfection!
Ah, cupidity!
Who knew the chalice,
the bowl held such wonders?
Politics of Living Death:
all this to reopen the Gate,
all this to cleanse the rivers,
all this to know God exists
and at whose expense?
Yours, brother, yours, sister.
Make war on heaven,
your only way out of Hell.

(15 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, March 14, 2013

City Nights

Change one letter and get Charlie Chaplin
attending the lovely blind girl
silently amid statues, prize-fight rings,
one for sleeping, the other for money,
and he gets neither. City Lights
is no movie to the damned of the earth.
Laugh it up, Mister Moneybags,
men are no better than horses,
but if you doubt me browse Das Kapital.

Before San Francisco was Seattle, 
the great flamenco guitarists 
Carlos Montoya, Andres Segovia
there to be heard downtown in that order.
Tempest Storm arrived, shaking her red mane,
tall, dancing naked with pendulous breasts.
She filled the big room at the Ben Franklin
Hotel, too many gawking eyes to count.

Cut to Manhattan’s Dakota Hotel.
You dreamed John Lennon died, shot in the head.
Seven years later, it happened.
No need to dream of Rosemary’s Baby.
The devil enters women from below,
why should Mia Farrow be otherwise
detained save to bear Lucifer’s children . . .

Everyone but me had seen the movie
the night Paula and I went with James and Debbie
to the drive-in. I was always in love
with Paula, before we met and married
even. Yet I had been in love too much.
We had a year. She saved my life. We left,

she before me. I went off to get lost.
Only the wretched among us could see
as one said, You’re play-acting, another 
remarking my viciousness. Why? I asked.
No answer. No moon. No wind, no thunder.

(14 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Rialto Days

The headline stripper came on stage.
Moose said, She’s skinny.
Marvin shushed him, Mike said, Cool it.
The usher arrived, silence prevailed.
She took off everything. Twirled
her G-string on one finger, her pasties
revolving, she kept the tassels going
bowing out, off stage, the sparse crowd
erupting with twenty pairs of hands
applauding. There were no clowns.
Burlesque was all body.
Later, the word burlesque grew quaint.
After the afternoon show ended,
sunlight hurt my eyes, The Devils was next.

Vanessa Redgrave was the nun
Oliver Reed tortured to confession,
crying out, Yes! But I slept through that part.
I had to read Aldous Huxley
anyway. On screen the Inquisition 
unfolded like his bellows filling up
with the Devil’s spawn,
or so the State was hot to prove.
I saw through the bars the Holy Women
take me back to Salem, after Europe
spelled The End of Ken Russell’s film.
On Market Street the hustlers were praying
God give them courage 
as they preyed on the crowd leaving.

(14 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Black Pope

“People must be drawn to good by goodness.”–Yuri Zhivago
(in the Max Hayward & Manya Harari translation of Pasternak’s novel, 1958)

No chance, they say, but Peter Turkson, the black cardinal of Ghana, would be the first hope of the Catholics since Pope John the Twenty-third (or as I prefer, Angelo Roncalli), who lived long enough to bring Vatican II into being and the greatest advance in the Church ever, so much so that recidivist catolicas have since followed popes who came after to lead the fight against the Jesus of the poor. The rich want to be in command again. Their coffers must be filled again in the temple of the moneychangers. Give us an African pope! Perhaps the element of joy, of brotherhood, would return to the Vatican. It is said there is no chance. Yet the wish expressed in prayer remains. Who will hear?

(13 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

El Camino

He does little other than travel now,
in his head.
Nights he can’t sleep in Tres Estrellas
swaying on curves.
These dreams are better than none.
When he wakes,
he doesn’t remember dreaming.
The stars come out
to go back in.
. . . de Oro? Why the Cortes pitch
so long after,
is Espana that deeply embedded
in Mexico Indio?
Go back to sleep, you are
dreaming now.
You’re here, not Mexico City.
The girls in Hotel Ibero
are dead, too old, or married by now.
He’s too old.
That’s the dream he doesn’t have to
follow. All he need do is wake.

(12 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bobby's "History While You Wait"

All my stories begin with Ike.
I never grew up after that.
Kennedy got shot.
King got shot.
Vietnam got out of hand,
Johnson quit.
Kennedy’s younger brother
got shot. 
Minnesota’s Gene McCarthy
lost to Hubert Humphrey.
Nobody ever started in Seattle.
Harry Bridges, union man,
was the Queen City’s big name.

Nixon yielded to Ford
who yielded to Carter,
who was/is a good man but
Hollywood threw him out
and eight years ensued
for this asshole Reagan.
Daddy Bush lost to Clinton,
whom many love to this day,
but the Reagan acolytes
finished him off and Bush
Junior spent vast reserves
on his buddies and new wars.
Eighteen years after Chile,
a new September 11 . . .

Bobby remembers Berlin
with Cathleen.
Rebecca was dead, Paula
was over, only Cathleen
remained. Melindra
went on working, Cristina
stayed in hip-high hose.
Paula served him papers.
He was with Henrietta
in La Jolla when the call
from Cathleen came.
He recalls Checkpoint Charlie.
Cathleen took her savvy
to bed: you don’t fuck
for money and forget it.

(11 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Vy krasivy

it’s all fucked up
the round the world
the sixty-nine
the works
it’s all fucking, dude
it only feels good

I could see the night
come barreling down
to dawn,
she slept in my lap
and one hand caressed
her hair

when the body goes
desire does not
the middle of a day’s
not like three o’clock
in the morning
time is no worry

I looked up the way
to say You are beautiful
in your language,
Your eyes are tides
pulling me to shore
to kiss your salty lips

(10 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, March 9, 2013


She sends home what reaches her.
He doesn’t know her meaning.
He asks, she must be referring
to the madman who plays Christ
in a movie all the Christians see
because the priest recommends
they go then gather in conversation.
Is he the one Jennifer Lopez loves?
That is how the question emerged,
answer ready, which means shut up
until I can read your mind, he tells
himself to follow his own advice.
He does: When every ten years
he goes mad, falling off one end
of the cliff where he has lived
since twenty-one, and he’s only
thirty, he crawls back up slowly
as you must when without pitons.
She was twenty-one that year,
she knew more, she put her mind
to work overtime, he was hers
that year, she saved his mind,
then saw him lose it once more
and who can bear such agony,
a retch of error, the dawn failing
without light and no preparation
for sunrise, the madness nowhere
but in him, how they come together
and marry, forty years pass,
she doesn’t remember until photos
reach her: of the year after her
and the urge that led him south,
the woman who drove him mad
originally become his savior.
You sent yourself home, stayed.
No one will ever be remembered
for aping Artaud, or Van Gogh
without the razor at one ear,
or whom, who knows? Her scar
is from the attack Rose suffered
walking herself home one night,
white girl with music in her veins.
She fought them off, raped.
Bobby knew them, old friends:
Dave told him he hated white guys,
his widowed mother hated them,
now Rose would know what he knew.
She had all the songs down.
He played them, she sang them.
It was the apogee of the rock era.
Don’t throw rocks at my house,
motherfucker, Dave liked to say
to whomever in the audience
started up about the black pianist
playing for the white woman.
I’ll keep writing songs about you. 
Then he followed Rose down the hill
downtown, Jackson Street Café,
not serving food now, only the music
a man and woman out here make.

(9 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

On South

You write me off.
I walk off, go away.
This is the way
we end. It is May,
the first day,
the last. You wave,
I wave back,
I walk up the hill
for no reason
save the climb.
I imagine Sisyphus
happy, like Camus.
I am feeling sorry
for myself.
I am feeling hate
for what I’ve done.
I’m not the only one
getting away
on the next bus.
I’m with the redhead
in a dream you heard
in midmorning.
Tres Estrellas de Oro.
Mexico City,
San Angel, Mina
y Buenavista.
She fucked lovely.
She feared Cubans.
I could not help her
understand men
who chose guns
over hunger.
She used the bidet,
I went downstairs
where the whores
waited for johns
to come to
the Ibero. The clerk
smiles. He knows
gringos fight
more than they fuck.
He has the rooms,
he smiles again,
I go back. Her hair,
pale red, glistens.
We fuck now as though
there were reason.

(9 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, March 8, 2013


Cathleen is in town, she missed him she says.
A thoroughbred, she feeds on him, his cock
in her mouth, his tongue around her anus
searching for entry, this is how love is
with them. Bobby always rises alive
to the weather, sun, rain, wind, the salt air,
ready to sport on the town, seeking rest
where none was before she returned today.
He was dreaming when she brought him alive.
How was Paris? Rome, I came here from Rome.
Did you get an audience with the Pope?
She takes him to their favorite café,
off Fairview, where nobody dined but them,
she held her windbreaker over her head
down the street of potholes to the houseboat.
She fed the cat while he sank into work.
He wrote, they made love, they were young, the rain
attended their mutual skin walking
the boardwalk swaying over the water,
at night the waves swelled, you could hear them wash
against you, and then you saw it was her,
the black hair brushing his belly, her head
between his legs as though that’s where she lived.
The café is not the same. The city
stays beautiful, she prefers sun to rain–
these are her sentiments, Paris or Rome
are too far away to want to live there.
He takes her to the Congress, she sips beer,
he smokes, she asks him not to, he walks out,
flips the cigarette into the gutter,
the trace of a smile when she sees he’s back,
she wants to stay, she wants to hear him sing,
he already played clarinet back then.
It wasn’t long, he reminds her, I wrote,
played my horn just enough to wet the reed,
then asked if you wanted to hear me read
what I had on paper, you always did,
I looked for the voice to fit what I called,
what I learned was, tone. I thought it was song.
I tried to be true, no need to sing words.

(8 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander


I think of you now in that bar in Tijuana
sitting the stool smoking a cigarette
cadging a drink from me in trade for talk
about the way you are spending your life.
Your creamy blonde hair spills not quite
to your shoulders, your breasts a little
smaller than mejicanos require of tits.
Your price is so-many cents after dollars.
Why do I need to know how a woman
rents her body, for how much, where the room
is above. Climb the stairs and out of sight
she would undress leaning your body back
on the bed, attending to what she thinks
you need. How could I know I was hungry,
I believed pulque was all I required.
Men around us warn me she is no good.
Perhaps time passes more enjoyably
if you hear her out from the beginning,
mother with growing children she works for;
I who have no children and will never.

(8 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, March 7, 2013


you’d have to be a goddam fool to ignore the benefits of leaving town

think of the travel along the west coast from seattle vancouver bc
south to mexico city san diego los angeles san francisco
to boston new york city and back to seattle then south
to albuquerque santa fe north to minneapolis and those only the cities 

towns are full of bigots and psychos of every stripe including officials
and so many homes cook what they sell and use what kills them
albeit slowly using no needles

bobby had to be on the road like kerouac without cassidy
bobby could drive but why not take busses they stopped everywhere

(7 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

angel eyes

they went to see a movie called by the song’s name
that bobby had designated paula’s

they no longer lived together, understand

they were not divorced, she confessed

he did love her and as men like him will
he wanted to be forgiven,
what is there to forgive, she asked, we can’t live together

why not, he said,
and she: we have no married life, you don’t stay home, you don’t sleep
with me

he argued, yes he did, she said sure, but you wake me to do
what lovers do but not at three o’clock in the morning,
in the beginning they would make love after lunch

I’ll stay home, he said,
it was more a plea,
she said nothing in reply

the movie starred the woman who played selena in the true
story of the young woman murdered by her secretary
once she had the gun

jennifer lopez, paula said
I only remembered jennifer, he replied
they went to bed, they slept.

he woke, he looked at her, she the most beautiful,
her eyes almonds when open, and even now, closed,
with her cheek bones he called her osage eyes

nobody courts very long, 
nobody has any truck with tradition
nobody now

why can’t we go on like this, she would say,
we work together,
we can be lovers

(6 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

the time between

they’re off to the side, talking between sets,
when bobby goes on stage impromptu
with body and soul a cappella, the chatter
abates, you hear clark and sanchez high
from stepping out in the alley, and paula
stops and looks and keeps her eyes on him
until he ends, then strolls up and kisses him
on the lips, bobby holding her, kissing,
wanting to go, to keep on, but one set’s  left,
the talk resumes, glasses clinking, laughter

(5 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, March 4, 2013


Nothing goes. The bent rod with lightning rod electrified. Nothing arrives.
Franklin replied to the young man, saying he would do well to a take a mistress,
just make sure she’s older, not to be a mother but to teach him like Rousseau’s
Mamma how to please a woman. There is no record of the young man’s reply.

Nothing’s here. Hemingway’s old man in A Clean, Well Lighted Place stirs.
He needs to go. The management says so. It is the Lord’s Prayer with nada
as a self-actuating yet echoing noun. So that he knows the world has ended,
he wanders home and on TV is De Sica’s Umberto D., hell you may as well die.

Nothing anywhere. I make up my own story. I’m a street kid with a passion
to be myself and still be another, I want to leave, I want to bury those who made
me, I whose worth is not in the skin where I am given the right to enjoy life
but in the mind that shifts from the daily hustle to the daily purge on paper.

I will make something. I know what I am already, the lights are on, but I’m out.
Rose is singing Body and Soul, then Angel Eyes, and Dave makes like Bud Powell.
The place is packed. Someone says nothing, thinking she’s maybe Billie Holiday.
White girl with a scar, voice like a purr. The sound is Dave’s then, Un Poco Loco.

Bobby wants to go to Paris with Cathleen, he wants to free himself from Seattle.
All there is here is pain. Marge turning tricks, her Jim in Walla Walla state pen.
Or Bobby would go south and ask his mother questions so he can write a story
of her life, not the one that’s legend in this city but the way her life went down.

(4 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, March 3, 2013


A poem must not mean,
but be . . .
If you do not care what you have to say when the words run out and the body begins its dance which is banned, clothes tossed into the canyon and skin freed of the wrongheaded mores . . .

It is for the children,
don’t you know they fuck too soon and bring babies into our midst before they can pay the bill, get a job to stay off welfare, keep the American mythos of everything in its place, in its own time, they are only children after all and if they have no parental guidance, why not . . .

Is that why we have poems?
To say nothing well . . .
To stay children and once you have money put it on the market and let it thrive so you may keep everything the way it is, you are, I will be stupidly resistant to any change that’s needed?

We are not children,
not even the children
who are given the street to build their own economies, leave the rest of us alone, let the cops lock doors, bar windows as the night shift rolls up the sidewalks with the young strays inside.

(3 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, March 2, 2013

the old wizards

the old wizards have nothing more to do but gaze into the void until the void returns for a night’s sleep, there are more simple ways to live but none as beneficial for humanity at large, many stroke their beards, a flight through the air results from such wisdom and care that the hands do not pluck white hairs from among the black, so the day is passed and night ignites, the old grow young again and their cleopatras claim them for their own as though the bright wreckage of the world were not enough for anyone to die inside, simply another reason to live

(2 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, March 1, 2013

Super 8 Movie 1969

I know we died but came back to life.
Forty years I missed her everywhere.
When I found her, she called me old love.
It was raining where she was, I never
remember myself, only the last time
she kept her clothes on we slept together.
My stay was over the day of the night
she called on the neighbor’s phone to see
if I was home. She came. I welcomed
her sailor’s walk, her beauty: almond eyes,
cheeks chiseled perfectly, how her talk
seemed to splice with a whisper words clear
as speech I could not separate from love.
I must have moved my empty hands over
her full breasts, cupping her soft buttocks
as we kissed, knowing our love would never
come again, we would have to settle now
for what the mind’s eye can remember:
running naked together through wheat fields
on film projected once but that was all.

(1 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander