Monday, September 1, 2014


I have no idea where the sky goes at night, or the dark by day. I do know I am dying, as we all are one day, one night or the next followed by all the other days and nights bequeathed to us. I no longer know, but it would be good to know firsthand again, before the sun is gone and the moon's light goes out,  the love bodies make when I want to be so warm I would have her feel what I do and she does, whomever she may be if she arrives or if I find her home.

I am going out today to buy a malamute to keep me company, the kind of dog I have wished I would have befriended when I was its age now. As it was, I loved the sheep dog, Tippy, I named for the white streak on the very end of its tail; the black one my father named Nig and told me outright, before I asked, that the dog's name was short for "nigger."

I knew my father was reared among people known as "poor whites," and I thought: He was so young to learn all of the fear and hatred that his own father taught him was wrong with his world, and my father believed it was so until moving north and west and homesteading in a valley, where growing up it dawned on me that the lessons his father taught him, whose spell he came to hate and drove away, were a part of what I would come to believe was at the heart of the hell on earth that humanity suffered then and now and no one knows how long the earth itself will survive human greed, the sickness invariably working hand in glove with human cruelty.

Also, there was the female collie puppy, whose name my mother remembered all the while she was still alive, for she too saw the little one she named Sala--don't ask me why . . . saw her dash through the rows of grapevines we were pruning and on the dirt road running beside the vineyard the car meaning to pass did pass, but only after killing Sala, and unlike the others--the truck and car whose drivers stopped to pick up the dead and take them, with me, home--this car left Sala in the dust without stopping, speeding up so no one in our family would ever know the driver's name. Also, beside that road was the ditch where Rosie Milton, little sister of a band of rowdy boys . . . the ditch where her body was found outstretched and her throat cut.

At least the quiet girl screwing the kid from the reformatory farm, Buoyville, did not die, at least not then, and she might have gone on to grow into the woman and he into the man, to become what they would need to be if this American romance had not been dashed by the eighth grade teacher cum football coach, who followed them one afternoon and caught them making love--fucking I heard it called it then, when I was nothing more than a candy-ass. He caught them humping, as I later heard, in the boxcar by the flour mill on the outskirts of town. She never came back to school, nor did he. I learned a lot of valuable things from him--cursewords mainly, which he called cusswords. I had learned them when we were binding library books, and somehow he knew I wrote stories, though he never said how. I found that from the librarian, one of the lady teachers who listened to what I wrote from the fourth grade on; she told him and then told me what she said ("I know stories I could write, too"), but only after he was caught being happy and making the girl happy in the only place and in the only way they could.

As for me, what did I do? Arose at four and cut asparagus until eight, when I went off to school, and when the school year ended, Joe Esparza hired Jess Maltos and me to work by ourselves his asparagus field from four until noon, and afterward we plunged into the city pool, then slept where our mothers kept their houses quiet so we would not wake until dusk. After asparagus came a cycle of harvests in orchards growing cherries, apricots, peaches, and we worked with all of them. Picking cherries in a bucket hanging from the strap around the neck, we learned to use the ladders the owners called spikes, which reached as high as the limb strong enough to hold the where we needed to strip the tree; but first we leaned the spike against the limb and climbed a step at a time until we knew the ladder could bear our youthful weight, and then near the top we tied the ladder to the branch we believed would hold us, and if we were wrong we probably would not try again, though as it happened we were not only young but lucky. And to end each day we yarded out the full boxes of cherries under the trees, stacking them so they could be moved quickly to the beds of the trucks--usually two, sometimes only one--when the drivers arrived early next morning to haul the cherries off to the plant to be processed, it was called, before our next day began as the sun was still rising.

Then we thinned apricots and plums so that what remained would grow to a size large enough to be acceptable for market, and the rest of the mob of greening fruit we let fall to the ground. Then we picked the apricots, but never the plums; we could not do everything in a late spring, summer, and sometimes early fall. Next came the peaches, the pears, and finally the apples, which we picked later, staying out of school to work that last harvest of the valley's fruit, for by then we were going to college, you see.

Those were years I worked--in fact, managed with Jess's help to fill empty boxcars with hundred pound sacks of spuds, they were called--in the potato warehouse where I met Irene, who was younger than I, but with her I--we--shared first love, or so I learned to call it after those days ended. Because we learned to love from each other, we wanted to marry, but she stayed to finish school and I went off to college, which put the Cascades between us, and when I could no longer find her anywhere in the valley, I remained on the other side of the mountains, in that city on the edge of the waters of the Pacific, and there I began a new life, though the old life lingered inside somewhere during my days and nights until I found a woman who has never left me, at least not to stay.

The rest of my days were devoted to learning why I am here to do what you may call art, even though I don't because, to me, it is only writing, and it never makes claims on me that the best writing I know always involves. But that may  be because I seem to take life too lightly now, though beneath the surface it is difficult to make the art I would do, but only in secret--not like what I'm writing here, but the work (I like to call it) concerning what the poet Yeats deemed, in his final years, to be the only subjects worthy of a serious mind to explore . . . "sex and the dead"; and I have been trying to expand "the dead" to consider how death itself weighs upon a body whose pursuit of a Dionysian ecstasy was the most crucial concern of my youth, or what I sometimes call, my misspent youth.

Of late I have written, and seriously so, what are known as satires, and I even have had the sand, or gall, to compare mine with Swift's "Modest Proposal," which I have tried to teach, a job that is more labor than work to me, possibly because the young--and even many among their elders--consider Swift's essay a primer in cruelty, either because they have never read it or having done so refuse to re-read it until they realize that satire involves the creation of another world to set against the immense follies we know from experience, if not from learning, are all that indulge us until death--having gleaned the chaff that becomes our most important material for art, despite what the books say, those I never read now.

(1 September 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Designated Griever

Finally, I was no more than griever.
Knowing no father, she sought one.
Another man is rekindling her fire.
Art might save you from anything.
Playing soprano sax straight out to life,
Sidney Bechet grew happy in Paris.
Love's little death was the discovery
Of any body's own Ponce de Leon's
Fountain of Youth between lovers' legs.

Call me Cunt, she said in the beginning;
Call me anything, but love me
(She stopped saying). She mothered me
With anger when she said I transgressed her
New code, revealing intimate details
So the old world might see the new.
She knew there was no need to fear
My absence. I floundered, regret
Flooding me with shame she chided me for.
Growing small, I asked forgiveness.
She said, Don't worry about it.

All that time, the half of one year

I knew her, she was welcoming
Another man into her arms
To restore her youth--a rose in her hair,
Smiling at last, kissing him with rose lips,
Prancing naked to lure his cock
Between her legs. I remember her last
Words to me were I want you inside me.
When our half moon turned into the New Year,
She said, Oh, did I forget you had a birthday?
Her way of starting to show me the door.
As another August approached, she said
Only what she could measure twice to cut.

What I prepared once reading the shadow
Of Emily Dickinson in Amherst
Wearing white on her second floor upstairs
Was the mania that led me to knock
On the door of the white house she died in.
From the river Styx, Jonathan Edwards
Reached the Connecticut, his Northampton
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
Left behind the doors of heaven and hell,
The wife of his youth, Sarah Pierpont, gone
Forever. He was crossing the bridge from
The vale of his church to the town Amherst,
Named for the Lord who brought smallpox blankets
Among those who were here long before him,
Where the preacher takes into marriage the poet:

Much Madness is divinest Sense--
To a discerning Eye--
Much Sense--the starkest Madness--
'Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail--
Demur--you're straightway dangerous
And handled with a Chain--

You who were my Esperanza

I saddled also with Preciosa:
You had said you wanted more than one name.
Now you forbid me to send couriers
Couriers to your newly minted door,
Put your hair back in the pigtails
I loved so, and cover your breasts
With the bedsheets you have smoothed and now tuck;

And I am left to remember only
The sweep of your gallery of still life
Photographs made by the men who came
Before me, before you called me
my love, my husband, my lover, my father
Leaving me behind my own bay windows.

(30 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, August 29, 2014

Designated Griever (earlier)

(a revision of an earlier draft thought lost
before finding it here after writing what I
offer above as the still unfinished
but, at least for now, final version:)

I was always, finally, the griever.
Her father long gone, she sought him.
Then a lover came to make her young.
Art saved me from everything.
Playing his soprano saxaphone
Straight out to life, Sidney Bechet
Was happy. Love's little death
I called the body's Ponce de Leon
Fountain between my legs.

Call me cunt, she offered in
The beginning. Call me anything
But love me, I heard her say.
She mothered me with anger
Once I transgressed her code
And she had no need to fear
My absence. I floundered,
Regret releasing a flood
Of shame she chided me for.
Growing small, I asked forgiveness.
She said, Don't worry about it.

During the time I knew her,

the last half of that year she was
welcoming a lover to her bed
to restore her youth: braiding her hair
with red ribbons, prancing naked
to lure his cock between her legs.
Her last words to me, I want you
inside me. August led to New Year's:
Oh, did I forget you had a birthday?
she said, leading me to the door.
When August returned, her tongue
said only what she could measure.

I was prepared by the lady in white
upstairs, or so I drunkenly thought.
When I knocked, no one answered.
I had come to Amherst as the war
in Indochina began to reach its end.
I was here to read and that way have
new dreams: Jonathan Edwards
snuffed out by the pox the Indians
around him suffered, his Sinners
in the Hands of an Angry God left
in his grave when he climbed out
and in my dreams returned one night
to the Connecticut River all the way
back from the River Styx. On the bridge
between his town and hers, Edwards
forgot Sarah Pierpont, his true wife,
to marry Emily Dickinson, who wrote:

Much Madness is divinest Sense--
To a discerning Eye--
Much Sense--the starkest Madness--
'Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail--
Demur--you're straightway dangerous
And handled with a Chain-

Esperanza I saddled with Preciosa

since she sought more names
than one, had forbidden me to send
couriers to her newly minted door,
put her hair back in the pigtails
I had admired; the rumpled bedsheets
she covered her two breasts with
smoothed and tucked: her many
still-life moments of loving those
who had come before me
to be the father, lover, brothers
she had sent away to their lairs.

(29 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Year Is Over

Poems seem to disturb the spirits--once at Gogarty's when I was reading out my Calvary and came to the description of the entrance of Lazarus, the door burst open as if by the blast of wind where there could be no wind, and the family ghost had a night of great activity. From all which you will see that I am still of opinion that only two topics can be of the least interest to a serious and studious mind--sex and the dead.
                      --W. B. Yeats, to Olivia Shakespear, October 2 (or 4) [Postmark 1927]

I learned to lean on one side
and ingest the waves of luna

I learned to lie in the space
of the hollow of your body

What did you learn, winter
window with your curtains

Did you weep with loving
someone like me or was it

no one's business, not mine
who taught you to fuck sex

when I went over into death
and left you with your boys

Today was your birthday love
forever too far off to be young

Floyce Alexander
(August 28, 2014)
to her

Blue Night

This is
the smell of the place,
beauty to cherish
and put you to sleep
knowing she was there,
your first sight waking,
the sound of her voice,
not needing to hear
what she says but you wait,
knowing you will know
so much more than before
she arrived to keep
the promise of her youth, having found you
too late.

This is the song
that has no ending:
Take me under cover, shine the flashlight where
Mercy doesn't live but pity does, and fear
Out where in the light of the moon
The dogs of death snarl and slaver and swoon

Here's where it ends.
The truck backs up to the door
The door in the back slides up, it's easy
You almost hear the voices as a choir


So goes the first day of her disappearance, folly of my doing nothing.
God damn, I mutter, she was not only beautiful but her mind was
And her heart if heart is the color of her eyes
And I don't know, I put her portraits where I could find them
Once I learned to run through the register without grinding
The gears, a year old now, cutting out at one hundred twenty.

(Wednesday, 27 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Memory of Earth Moving; or, 6.0 on the Richter Scale

                                                  for Jonah Raskin,
                                                  remembering talking about Rudy Wurlitzer's novel
                                                  Quake, walking the hills outside Sonoma, California,
                                                  Summer 1984

In Napa, rolling hills crumble,
The earth beneath opens and wine fills
The sun's frantic shadows moving side
To side where the fall sweeps gravity
Like a broom wielded from the sky
By precipitous, inconsolable
Fingers forming a fist out of a hand
Bone by bone.

Wine country Napa struck by a quake
As one waitress was talking with
Another, the day idling by,
Moving toward noon gone moribund,
Memory hard up for words to fill
The gaps opening where once we talked
In the mold of newfound friends unprepared
To be angels, ever!

                                                       In Napa riddled 
With grape stains mimicking sunset
Pouring down.

                       Summer 2014

                      (24-25 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, August 24, 2014

6.0 Richter Scale

In Napa the rolling hills crumble,
the earth beneath opens and wine fills
the sun's frantic shadows moving side
to side where the fall sweeps gravity
like a broom wielded from the sky
by precipitous, inconsolable
fingers forming a fist out of a hand
bone by bone.

Wine country Napa struck by the quake
as one waitress was chatting with
another, the day idling by,
moving toward noon gone moribund,
I am so hard up for words to fit
the gaps opening where once we talked
in the mold of strangers unprepared
to be angels now, in Napa riddled
with grape stains mimicking sunset
pouring down.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Veronica Guerin

                                                                          for Gypsy Queen

There are women like her still, the rowdy ones, fearless, will walk up to you and kick you in the shins or haul back and coldcock you or whatever a brave woman does who refuses to be silenced. If I know one I know a hundred, and it's time you know and call their names, the bloody sea is rising, the truth is like an eel, who else but her will bear your heart to the grave . . . Who but the gypsy in my dream, in my country the lass who spurns the queen . . . 

I woke at three, having slept since midnight the deep sleep, yet shallow as the soul. On the screen was Cate Blanchett who had climbed inside the Dubliner's lovely body and made herself at home, knowing full well the price. Why say it's only a movie? and an old one at that. Its music reminds me of my mother, and you. Like her, who also loved me over a half century, you wake in the wee morning hours and go to sleep with the pre-dawn light . . .

(4:15 ante meridiem, 20 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Buena is off to the right
or to the left . . .
the direction the car
is traveling the back road
to or from the dam
the salmon run, hurdling
the falls to reach the calm
spawning waters
if first the Yakama don't spear
them climbing the ladder.

Buena is where
the Guzmans live.
Frank talks while I take
an hour to eat my lunch
on the grass
outside Employment Security
in Toppenish. Frank's wife
Geri takes classes
with Cathleen in Yakima,
at The Beauty School.

Frank knows I live here
alone, where Cathleen was
better-looking than the others.
You need a wife, she said,
I've got a wild hair up my cunt
I need to tame.
Frank asks what I do for pussy.
You mean, Where does my
Little Man go? (Cock is his word.
Polite brothels are my style.)

Frank launches into
his long dream
to be Geri's pimp.
That's a wet dream,
I laugh. Sure, he says,
but she's real, she's not a dream.
And I: Does she know
what you say about her
behind her back?
Frank: Sure, she loves me.

He wants to buy me a beer.
No, this's my only job.
Breathing booze gets you fired
if you push your luck.
Frank pulls up green grass.
All his life he's wanted to pimp.
Geri's a good girl, he says,
she'll do anything I want,
and adds: You'd get off too, 
her skin is alabaster white.

Naturally our conversation
shifts to Manson.
Guy filing his claim today
needed to talk about love
and death, Sharon Tate
and the lifestyle of the rich
confronting the poor pimp
with his bevy of girls
holing up at the Spahn Ranch
in Death Valley.

Guy said, Charlie's girls killed
for him, murder earned them
like an eagle-scout badge.
He's got his boys selling
dope on the streets of L.A.,
up and down the canyons.
And on all of San Francisco's
Roman hills, those St. Francis
named before he left town
to rid Ireland of its snakes.

That was St. Patrick, I said.
Guy: Oh . . . So how much
do I get a week? I think,
That's like  Frank
asking me what I thought
his wife was worth
on the meat market.
Me: She's your wife, Frank.
He replies, I want her to work
on her back for me
so I can keep control.

Better than eight to five,
he swears, doing hairdos,
painting nails. Hell,
floycealexander (he says
my name fast, like I ask),
she's a good piece,
she needs to sell it.
It's up to you and her, I say.
I go back to the claims window,
and here's this lady with tits . . .

(19-20 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, August 17, 2014

South of Here

We came in together, the men looked up, the one with red hair, in particular. He asked, What y'all want with us?

I glanced at Precious, who cocked an eyebrow. She does the other one, I thought, and we're in the soup.

We took a seat at the counter, near the door. No one came to wait on us. Red said it again. I looked at Precious, her eyes on fire with the sun sliding under the door. I said to Red, I'm gay, hombre, can't you tell?
Why else would I be looking at a handsome dude like you? and muttered to Precious: Cracker. She smiled with both eyes and quickly I led her out to the car. I saw Red get up and start toward the door, but the window turned into a door. He and his buddies were coming through the door as I was shifting the Healey into third and then fourth when the tachometer said I should. We flew down that two-lane Alabama highway like passenger pigeons not only out of season but far from home now they were extinct.

Why'd you say that to him? she asked.

Seem'd like the best answer to his question.

That elicited one of her trademark chuckles that never failed to remind me of her half century of Southern speech . . . brogue . . . the word I learned from my kinfolk. Also long ago . . .

But you don't fight . . .

No . . . the hands, honey, I can't afford to bust my hands up.

She didn't know me well, but that was good enough, she didn't go on to ask what she must have wondered: Look at this big guy with his Cherokee eyes, why wouldn't the Irish and the Welsh and the Scots in him throw down? And I knew she'd never care now that we were out of there and happy, even with the top up and the rain beginning to pour down, fogging the windows so much I had to pull off on a muddy road, find a place to park out of sight, reach over and pull her to me, and every reader, North, South, East, and West, knows what happened next. It's nobody's business, Billie was singing on the radio . . . It's nobody's business if I do . . .

(17 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, August 15, 2014

Last Days in San Angel

"A postmodern iconoclast who believed in the discipline of the classics."
                                                                                                                        Jeanette Winterson

When she learned she would soon die,
she took a plane to Mexico City.
She would write the rest of her novel
in San Angel, near La Casa Azul.

She had learned to put up with addicts,
malcontents, and cops, untrustworthy
like me, said she. Here she could stay
out of range of the cartel wars.

She wrote of the twenty-first century
speeding backward to 600 A.D.,
starting in Manhattan, her home,
ending in Mecca, the planet dying.

She drank after working and liked
to fuck the neighbor boys who had
the time when she found them in.
Fucking she never got enough of.

This was her novel of shame and gore.
The religious wars.  Blood and money
when neither would matter anymore.
She thought to call it "Cross of Bone."

To end with, she gave up needles
and reefers, sipped El Pacifico,
pulque when she needed the jolt.
She hung around the carnaval

across the grass and in the cantina
until the taberna opened its doors.
She called all her friends at home;
those never there she gave up on.

Amassing a phenomenal phone bill
when lucky enough to get through,
she listened more than talked, proud
of keeping out the words of death.

Her book would prophesy the clocks
stopping to begin the red rivers
flowing. She climbed into bed naked,
her ink slowing to its crimson shade.

(13-16 August 2014)

copyright by Floyce Alexander


Butler drove down alone to see her--what was it, 23 mile, 25 . . . ?
Bought her what she wanted, little enough. But not what
he had. I swear, the other couple happy, between us.

Took all night, most of the next sun. Then back to a state of ire
unlike the night before's, sky clustered with milkweed,
birds roosting in trees, nests repaired before they flew.

She felt better--who wouldn't? Having denied nature its human due
years and days and hours, sleeping alone, no man was sane--
and why not? Lives ruptured, all she wanted was happiness

in all this rain--these tears--lately fallen behind a curtain of space,
wept in dust now mud. Who didn't know there were many cosmos
clouds don't reach? cousins of stars, shirt-tailed comets,

the family tree tragically felled before roots had plunged
deep, to drink. Memory looms before he goes away.

(15 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Peaceful Valley


I was over there
one night, his place
wired for sound
. . . Lockjaw on sax,
who with I don't know,
Lonnie's teaching me jazz
and right now I'm out
of crystal meth,
veins hungering to
slow down and sleep.

Peaceful Valley is named
for a war yet to come.
Lonnie says he needs
money but pussy's okay.
That's how I got pregnant.
I'm too young for a baby.
In a canyon of L.A.
the abortion happens,
then I'm happy,
then sad, then forget.


I love her,
ask her to marry,
it's been a week,
I can't look far
from her eyes.
Time contracts,
love overflows.
I love my luck,
I love her
for her gift.

She wants me home,
wants life like it was:
coming home for lunch,
to bed for dessert, 
our flood of happiness
contagious. I back out
to East Webb. At the door
she hikes her dress,
shimmers with joy.
I still taste her flower.

(12-13 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, August 11, 2014

Her Lightning Cracks His Thunder

Of nothing we made this, our trembling.
Don't hide the fear, already shared.
Nausea, nausea, give us respite,
bring bread with a rack of chiles,
black and Spanish olives, and water
once the sea salt is boiled, tested, gone.

If there is hope, may it remain precious.
Let stars fall, holes open become black,
moon be trampled, sun yield to cold,
another day to follow; nights, bodies
and you riding me as far as the mountain:

Hymn of the body--Flee like a bird
to the mountain; dancing near the peak.

(5-6, 11 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

My Bright Sun

My brazen skill is better off shut up
I don't recognize the salesman in me
So close the door when you hear you're the blue
               the sky shapes my tongue
Stars never baptized have no name
There's no holy water to pour from clouds
Away from windows you are my bright sun

(10-11 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, August 8, 2014

Two Failed Poems

Two Failed Poems


I thought I might live forever. But no,
The poet Olson advised, "Limits are
what we are all inside of"'; Albert Camus said
eloquently much the same of limits.
Methusaleh must have known in his heart,
his concealed heart, there was a limit to taking
the Bible seriously. The Old Testament claimed
he lived on earth, when one year counted
as two or more. But it was a fine story in
a book of stories, some better than others.
The New Testament is the tale of a man
with more to risk, though it too is fiction. For
how could you comprehend the miracle
of ascendance arriving with dawn following
Golgotha, a day and night on the cross
he was cut down from; and the ladies coming
to seed and root his body's soul, thinking
that as he said, out of death comes new life,
only to find him gone, the big rock rolled away
from his tomb, the cave's mouth open.
Where is he? they wondered, and he appeared.


How bear such praise mixed with venom
she suffers from men whose need to be stained
to validate her heart's honesty
can kill love, a simpler task than giving birth.

Ecstasy ends. Nothing to believe. No need
to start over: The soil is leeched with death.
He is careful to the point of paranoia.
She tells him to stop making excuses.

Surely, the lady still loves him.
May she let him love from her lips
to her toes, their bodies filled midway down
with all they imagined still between them.

The black-eyed susans love morning glories.
The cedar is home to squirrels and blue jays.
Pigeons arrive to eat and fight sparrows
first, as they must, the earth growing fallow.

Wait until dark after a long day ends.
The tongue is more convincing than the body.
Bring food you have tilled all your life to give
to her, and she has waited all her life to eat.

Now you are too old, man. Her skin is young,
a beauty still, who called you Father or Lover;
you might be both if seed and ovum would
find each other to live even longer.

So she never answered what you asked her!
So you lost your temper! You're not alone;
no hurricanes, not even warnings where
you are high up in the middle of the west.

(15 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, August 2, 2014


This is to say: the wild girl to whom I was married said she had a wild hair and . . . watch out! I was thirty, she was twenty-one. How can I say more? When she left she was twenty-two, I was thirty-one. A year later, when she came back to see me for one night, and no more, she was twenty-three, I was thirty-two. Well, that's not much of a marriage, is it? Why remember her for forty years, then? She must have voodoo'd me, this curly-haired black lady in New Orleans offered, no charge involved. She was holding court in the back of one of those bare-floor bars along Tchoupitoulas Street, the kind destroyed in 2005 by the flood waters of Katrina's aftermath.
          Voodoo'd? I echoed more than asked.
          Voodoo'd, she repeated.
          How would I have known, otherwise?
          All those years she was living in Oregon, one place and another, shooting speed, drinking, fucking. She had that wild hair and it was loose now. So was she. She had remarkable endurance, but it didn't help her any. I was lucky by that time. I'd quit drinking. Refused many offers to share a needle full of smack in the beloved Bay Area. Irish was there, she went with me and saved my life. She took me back to New Orleans that year. I couldn't help but ask he voodoo lady about that wild girl, I called her, said no name, yet this lady knew as much as I. She described her to a T. She told me her name too. I became a believer.

Floyce Alexander

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Many journeys you are loath to speak of,
you loved them that much then. Who am I
to denigrate your child's eyes opening . . .

The Holy Land. Dead seas raise no dust
where no one walks, they have to ride
in getaway cars to reach the wailing wall.

I don't want to take you where you were.
My cities are holy, west, south, east, north.
Hold my hand in yours and never let go.

Lead me, love. I have work to do. I have
eyes to see my cities through your eyes.
We tour the storm you lead me through.

Seattle was my Rome, San Francisco Paris,
New Orleans its own. All the East was ours:
Boston, the Outer Banks. North, snow fell.

We go anywhere we want as long as I sleep
with you free from the demons always in you
a man put there to torture you until collapse.

Rack, Iron Maiden, Poe's Pendulum destroy
all my house holds sacred, you. I carry you
out of the dungeon, nail it shut, scrawl Closed

Forever. You are here where I will be
when you say, I want you inside me. I am
pouring my life into your body. I love you

and hold your luminous body's long hair
I breathe as you sleep, the summer
my body woke with yours to our first day.

There is no need to dress where God rules.
He wears the stars, tramples the moon,
bathes in the sun. We shall not be His slaves.

My love, let me back in. Your door opens
with my key. The lost creatures below us
look up. Animals we love, who love us.

(29 July, 5 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, July 28, 2014

In Silence Is Harvest No Feast Follows

The night I could not see to see the storm
I saw the fire instead, pleading, Please bring back
my baby girl before ice melts her down.
Soft, soft, goes the clock, sand is running out.
Mirrored, her only mother turns to scold
calm rivers that were flowing inside her
before the rain, the crystal in the glass.

I have never found a way to reach her,
to touch her skin in that sphere she can't leave,
come here so I can smell her summer breath.
Here the earth bleeds love, nothing will survive,
stones scream, mothers fail to feed their babies,
for everywhere bombs fall, soil lies fallow,
cold heaven embracing the heat of hell.

(27-28 July 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Arms a Cross

                    for Padre Mario Prada

When you pray, eyes open, your words
are pearls, but your arms a cross.
No one but the worldly hang there now.
The sacrifices of eternity wear thin.
You lift your arms like wings
and that way you are saved for this world.

Nothing around your neck but the scars of age,
Mario, the sacrament is always a little further on.
waiting, as though a sacrament were the body
of He whose callused nail-borne hands
reach out and you take them in your own.

In Colombia you were not far from the father
of not only words but the shapes of stories.
Now he's gone, I never look back
for him or he for me.
Arms a cross, hands stretched, fingers spines
of flight. Let me go, Lord, I have much to do.
Will there be time?

11-22 June 2014

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Arms a Cross

                    para Padre Mario Prada

When you pray, eyes open, your words
are pearls, your arms a cross.
Only worldlings are stretched 
so thin cloud priests sacrifice them
to eternity. There you reach your arms
into wings that will never catch you up,
holy paradox, bodhisattva catolica,
you wish only to save the others first.
Stay here too restless to be satisfied
to go alone, no happiness but on this earth.

Sacraments are always a little further on,
waiting for the image in a mirror
of the body of the youth whose callused
nail-borne hands reach, refusing to grasp
your hand, there being no need for his touch.
Bodies in your Bogata, Mario, lie not far
from parables of lost children cut down
to prove only that their assassins kill.
Stories of these deaths find their shapes
in words that weep with the poor's tears.

Arms a cross, hands outstretched, their fingers
a spine for flight from rusty scars of age,
sacraments that mean nothing now
but the agony of not having lived,
born only to die. 
                              Let me go, Lord.
I have much to do.
                              Will there be time?
Was there ever?
Is silence the harvest or the feast?

(11-22 June, 26-27 July 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander


               ("a minor or insignificant poet"--Webster's)

          How can I believe we were so young
          she loved the cock I cunt'd her with,
          I was so wild and desiring only fame . . .


The year I, twenty-nine, took her, twenty-one, for wife
began the seventh of May and only afterward
did we learn, separately, the difference between
being home in a house alone
and jailed in a cell, even overnight
(you were free to leave the house
but not the cell without permission).

After our passionate summer together all we could be,
I began to act upon my desire,
long held, to emulate not only Rodin's Thinker
but Roethke the teaching poet,
and become a poet with a professor's salary
providing us with a true home
as long as we should live.


In my single-mindedness I was so in and out--
reading so long alone the night became a time
for talk of all I was reading and writing, and drinking--
my beloved was left too much alone,
and I, besotted, woke her in our bed to sleep
and return next day to the full-time job
I'd worked seven years but not the eighth
when I would have in hand the parchment
that was my price of admission to the Academy
but became the symbol of my cowardly refusal
to be her husband before all else,
rather the cur that turned my love
back to the fugitive path she had followed
before we met, learning again to live defiantly.


She returned to sleep with me one night before I left,
celebrating with me my completion of the Master's.
Still smarting from my former drunkenness, she slept
on our old bed beside me all night with her clothes on.

The night we met she asked me for a glass of milk.
Why milk? I asked. I'm pregnant, she replied.
I admired her, long before we loved, before I learned
the fetus was the price her dealer demanded

for the score she had no money to pay for,
though she had the habit she had kicked already
by that night she was staying on to hear me justify
Bob Dylan's monaural LP John Wesley Harding

as part of the first course I created and taught,
"Some Young American Poets and Their Elders."


Years later, with the same degree in hand
I believed had led me to throw away our marriage,
she returned to The Life to earn her daily fix.
To sleep she filled the vein that had left no tracks.
Then to cop her next load, she stayed awake
as long as it took, even if she must fill her booty. 

Not until I lived in the house where I moved finally
after staying too long in that apartment Rebecca fled,
and still living alone, hosting one night a reception
for the out-of-town poet following his reading,
did she appear for the second time in our lives
and as that night ended I asked her to stay.

Next day she did not leave, and now she says,
I never left . . . though a half century has passed.


How much we remember. The book would be too long,
and now that she is sixty-six and I seventy-five
how could the book end other than how we all end . . .
The day we found each other again, she learned I was
married to a woman I had known and loved longer
than her, and she was married to a sax man she met
in the club he was playing and she passed out the night
he took her to the hospital, where she dried out again.

He took her into his home, watching over her vigilantly,
keeping his sax in the closet, afflicted with rheumatoid
arthritis, working as a flagman for the highway department,
devoting himself to her sobriety, loving her as she deserved
until he died. She sold his house and moved with her cat
named after him in honor of saving her life time after time . . .

(26 July, 5 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Poet as Fierce Male Angel

I know I love the forbidden.
Even the moon, the stars know
I mean to do what I must.
I'm that fucker, the poet
fearing entanglements.
Why I leave on the first train,
catching a ride to that city
I can kiss and go all the way,
inside her, she makes me feel
so good getting there, finding
her rainy night, sleeping,
pulling her up and over me
tomorrow and the next day,
however long she can stand
my praise, now that I know
to spare her my paranoia,
my child dying to be the man
where Job'a dun-colored earth
bears the weight of dusty feet
coming, going, never staying.

I have seen one foot cut off,
my youngest uncle Ernest's
fate inside doomed Detroit.
Leaving the Bud Wheel plant
at day's end, coming home
to Stella, drinking beer until
he sleeps, he has nightmares
he's back on the Pacific war
destroyer his mates deemed
fit only for those meant to die.
Waking, one leg lopped, soon
to be followed by the other,
he drinks to quiet the nerves
that in the city were sirens.
In the Upper Peninsula now,
no more punching in and out,
he knows he has little time
to live full time with Stella,
who always wanted a Queen
to replace the sagging Twins.

When he dies, I am with you
in your home near the Atlantic,
loving you, and you showing me
around where your mother moved
you south from Virginia, the name
you gave yourself once you knew
your father was gone, never why.
Your long dream was you were
Virginia Dare, for whose lost home
we searched, seeking her shadow.
Now I am talking you into going
farther south to show you
what I saw once, though never
again will I see the city before
it was my mother's New Orleans,
my beloved, demonic city
where I mean for my body to lie,
making its eternal home in an urn
above that watery earth, so like
the floating, monstrous Mexico City.

I love the pitch your Southern drawl
makes into song, your voice honey
soothing my ear, your body
welcoming me into your hive. 
Veering west, I have shown you
my birthplace on the Arkansas.
On its other side, we followed the path
through Oklahoma to Albuquerque,
turning south to Ciudad Juarez,
then west to Nogales, musky Tijuna--
towns greed keeps going, el pueblo
dying, narcoterroristas thriving.
I shall never forget Mexico City,
nor will I forget you with me here.
When the sky clears, from high up
we see those volcanic lovers
who are said to live forever:
Popocatepetl, the fat man
who loves the sleeping woman,
Ixtacihuatl. Malgre tout . . .

Be with me in our sprawling city,
my love whom I call Esperanza,
tell me again through your lips,
You will have the time. I know,
though long ago I loved a whore.
None came before or after her.
My whore took me in her saddle,
then lay back and let me ride her
until we were spent. How I lived,
knowing no one would call it living.
Mornings, around the corner, 
in the flourishing cantina,
drowning hangovers with cafe
con leche, I called the whores
ladies. And they were. They made
you feel good if you helped them
make a living. They were so many.
Now only you make me feel the way
I hope we share until our last day.

(18 June and 7, 23 July, 5 August 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Of Rebecca

Juan Flores invariably asked why when crowded with a question the tongue refused to answer
there, in the mob of celebrants where the woman with him, who would become his wife
when all this was ended, this glee followed by unfathomable sorrow, where she was stolen
for the room she occupied as long as the rapists wished, where she was taken one by one
to the brink of sexual idiocy, the very reason his mother had opened her New Orleans house
and then, with her coffin floating in the Gulf after the worst storm in the city's history,
he had come back to learn more and found her gone, like the woman he would make wife
to ease the demons inside telling him You could have saved her, you only needed to hold onto
her hand all the way up Bourbon to Canal, where they would walk the rest of the way home,
the motel where the foul examples of his sex dumped her on the sidewalk and the black man
working as a porter without a train carried her to the room Juan found her in, in a pool of blood.
Someone asks, inevitably, What happened then? Before he can answer, he asks himself why
he cannot say for sure, having walked as far as Tchoupitoulas, back and forth, and each time
he told this story he left out why she was there, to be with him on the long journey home,
his home, one night in the St.Charles in Vieux Carre, upon arrival in the city drinking down
in the long and wide room where all the voices heard would be a cornucopia of languages
they wanted to speak between them and settled for the only words in such polyglot they knew,
his cock penetrating her cunt, her insistence he not give her another child, one was enough,
and so spilled his sperm on her belly and above her watched what there was of him to her
memory the gate that opening parted its flowery Eden and precariously close to his birth.

(22 July 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, July 18, 2014

In Cristina's Place

He loves to slide two hands full of fingers
under her blouse, inside her bra,
strumming her nipples taut,
then moving down where she wants him
to pour his seed, sperm embracing ovum.
How they began this, they stir up again.
She knows he doesn't love her. He says,
How could I love anyone?
Listen to him lead her on:
You were the last to tempt me . . .
or How can I give you a child,
I'm no lover now, if I ever was.

He's straight with her, yet he can't refuse her,
this wild lass who married the widower
Danny St. Clair, asking only
that she look after his young son
now that his mother, Henrietta Murphy,
was believed to be killed in the train wreck,
moving from Pike Street to Blues Heaven,
headlining nightly like she was still alive,
whereupon Danny played his hole card
when the night turned into noon next day,
nothing new to Bobby's gambler father . . .
then the knife opening an artery to drain,
and once Danny was dead and gone
for good--no deposit, no return--
Cristina was all Bobby had,
and he grew up to be all hers . . .
She was too young to be a mother
and Bobby too old to call her such.
So it was, so it is.

The little cocksman Robert Henry St. Clair
grew up, began writing and playing music.
He married twice, to the sculptor Rebecca,
who drowned in Lake Washington
in her Austin Healey 3000 Mark II,
then to the wild girl Paula whom he loved
even when he wasn't home, but how
could she love back when he was gone?
They split, though still married, and now
he sees Paula only when she sings
and he's on clarinet playing nightly
in the back room of Hotel Congress.

Bobby loves to look at Paula. He will never
outgrow her, though she's nine years
younger. He follows her lovely body's
sinuous moves, calls her by her birth name.
When he sleeps alone, he holes up in a room
upstairs he calls La Iglesia De La Puta.
Its only window gives upon the street,
and when rain falls slowly down
streaming the glass, he reads what's there
and comes away seeing Henrietta's face.

Cristina sashays back and forth from bar
to back room to serve the hangers-on
at closing time. Sanchez & Co. will never
leave: Paula's here to stay, like Bobby,
Clark on bass, Tony on piano,
Sanchez on drums. Paula sings
Bobby's songs, they're old now,
but why not? Clark was her man a while,
then she wrote lyrics, Tony did the music
while his wife Laurie looked on, glad
her man had a gig he loved to do,
and  Paula had another repertoire.
What could be better as well as true?

Cristina changes while Bobby drinks,
then they walk off to do a little more
of the night before she says,
You want to go home and fuck me?
And why should he not consent?
No danger of his animal 
probing one thigh, then both,
below her silk panties
without consummation, yet no
until death do us part
necessary . . . ever.

When Bobby thinks of Rosemary far off,
Rebecca dead, Paula chaste with him now,
and how many others he may never see again,
he mutters, What in hell am I doing here,
remembering Marlowe's Why this is hell,
nor am I out of it . . .

(18 July 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

En La Iglesia De La Puta

                                                  Hotel Congress, Seattle

On the hotel window, occasional fog, then sun, wheeling gulls.
Rain greets his return.
Southern heat stays behind.
Rosemary, her belly swelling with the seed of his loins
will never tell him, one way or the other, she declares,
if there's a child come of them and if so the name she chose.
The South nearly his downfall,
he hopped a bus to get beyond her reach,
what she wanted, he knew, and has
now he's gone so far to know what he guessed would happen.

On the street, in front of Greyhound, the women who walk
in stiletto heels, ask, You want a date? or, Like to go out?
He smiles big, for he loves each one.
If they sell their bodies to have the money to get high,
who could blame them? Not him.
Childhood here taught him what to do
with the first to say, Honey, Let me show you how.
The condom between her teeth
she eased slowly over his cock. Shivers scaling his spine,
he could not wait to make circles inside her.

There is never money enough, anywhere, ever. Still,
he knows Rosemary will get by,
living where people have known her from birth.
Such a brief time they churned and spilled their load of love.
How could he know they would part in a storm of venom
until she told him she carried the child,
a cargo she yearned to share with him,
that hell La Puta saddled her with. She said she felt a son
inside her budding between his legs.
He sees her seeing what he saw on his rain-scarred window.

None of this is true,
he hears from the little voice inside that always knows a lie
can't beat the truth.
From below his daddy would tell him that's why he was knifed
as the table stakes rose, loosing the card up his sleeve, 
like Bobby's cock roaming, a lost child in a foreign country.
Cristina, still working the bar in hip high hose,
goes back to asking him to make her dream come true:
Come sleep with me, give me a child. Knock
and I will open wide.

(17 July 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Blood Wake

Where the blood went
we know, the bones and I,
who see from inside
the wake flotilla plow,
hulls filled with men with spears,
the living going to die.
No one knows their names now.
History forgets flesh
keeps bones alive. Hands
that held the tall weapons
given to museums.
Emblems of memory
overflow: engorged
blood billows into war.

(16 July 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Bones

The names are lost. He holds bones in his hands,
the feel of them quaking inside bare skin.
They are from bodies that were never named.
The heart travels its arteries. Its pulse
is a tongue that forms between absent teeth
a sound he detects as though fingers hear
the simplicity of barbarism
swearing vengeance, desiring nothing more,
or the name hollows a well in his ear
where he learns what he was not meant to know.

(15 July 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


And what of those who populate the barren places no one else will,
where wind carries dust and flings both fistfuls in their faces . . .
Houses constructed of old clothes quickly ripped by the weather
once they are named ceiling, and sticks stand as close as sticks
can be, though wind invariably precedes or follows the full clouds
and what were once walls leave sand no longer serving as floor:

Yes, what of the poor, born to huddle in storms centuries
remember, women selling their precious bodies in streets.
How are we men when we deny shelter and love to women?
I do not care, I will sing their praises, and if we desire, make love
None of us were meant to live according to what other males say.
Off your knees, be naked with her, never fail to speak the truth.

I have shouldered hundred pound sacks equal to his.
After hours we heaved them into empty railroad cars
until their spaces were filled: the least of our labors.
We worked night and day, rotating shifts, as my village
disappeared. In the city I crossed mountains to find,
days were for excavating bony souls, nights learning their names.
(23-24 June, 7 -14 July 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, June 19, 2014

For Workers in the Sunup-to-Sundown Fields

                    in memory of the poet John Clare


Outlying provinces like distant cities spill over with fast talkers and trimmers.
There is so little time to get said what there is to say.
The bastards go back to sitting in easy chairs dallying with dogs, 
not cats, who are too bright not to know con  men
want to make each of them a mark and do them in.
I am done with the provinces, as I have been all my life an exile from cities.

Because I must dwell in the provinces venturing into a city to end each decade
with more teeth extracted, plates molded and wires to hook to those left,
should the last two go time will have arrived for the lower jaw to be filled,
and with its birthright of overbite the mouth will try to expel the foreign agent.
Even so, my underslung mandible will skulk through shadows cast by lights
on empty streets under no moon, manned by men who are said to be my kin.


Who would remember the dream no one knows how to read it is so absent?
Why wish for the air to be disturbed when fire might soothe you
if water were not involved . . . yet they are as always . . .
Who among us has not prepared for the vision of the pale seers
with doors that must be unlocked to enter, then locked until arrival.
Who does not know why this nightmare looms or for whom it is intended?

Animals snarl and limp off to care for their own. Humanity continues to dwell
out of sight, out of earshot, out of mind,
so do not dither with thought but be quick
when the pace accelerates, try to keep up
(some do but too few). Outside our zone of breath and smell the hallowed
ponder who may be chosen as worthy of being seen or heard, much less read.

(19-23 June 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The character of mobility

is devoted to balance, attentive
to lurch and sway of bodies' secondhand.
Who has not been defeated in the nights
of slow-motion falls, the thuds on green rugs
never soft like being knocked asunder
on grass, the field turned into sod by cleats
of impresarios, the grid's masters . . .

(3-6, 18 June 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Immaculate Concepcion

This girl comes down the block they are climbing,
hunting for somewhere to stop and kill time
before tonight's first set. His clarinet
Bobby cradles in its case as he greets
the girl, who smiles. He stops, turns. She keeps on,
he walks beside her, descending with her 
where he wants to take her back to, with him.
He knows she will go where she wants to go.
She guesses he wants inside her panties.

Time passes they spend in a coffee shop
with a bar hidden under the counter.
Concepcion is her padre's surname,
and her mother named her Immaculate.
She's from the Mexico that disappears
into Guatemala. She left her child
with her latest lover, not the father.
She likes Seattle in the rain. She buys
a round. Not coffee, pulque with no worm.

Between Oaxaca and Guatemala
City, Bobby knows, may be where God lives.
He wonders aloud if she sees angels.
She laughs: Didn't you know I'm an angel?
He asks, Do angels make babies?
then adds: I thought only God could do that.
He's my brother, Concepcion declares,
He makes me Immaculate.
Incest? Bobby thinks, then asks.

You don't know, hombre, I have bones of steel
and I have no need to fuck my father!
She would like to ask Bobby when he's hard
in bed, does he come quickly, go flaccid?
She knows he would be what she'd have him be.
He's no more a man than all the others.
She says she has to go now. Bobby coos:
Imma, come up the hill and hear us play,
afterward we'll go upstairs, to my church.

(15 May-6 June 2014: II)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander


Next door to the cardiac patients,
Bobby throws his weight around
without falling. At least that's what
floycealexander says in Bobby's behalf.

Noon gets them nowhere,
Bobby included.
Bobby wants to find a store and beer to go.
Clark knows a place near Hotel Congress.

But Bobby goes down the street, not up.
Three hookers to every block,
one on each end and one in the middle,
Bobby shines them on,

he's that well known. So he says.
floycealexander thinks: Bobby knows
the day as well as the night,
La Iglesia de La Puta knows only the night.

(15 May-6 June 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

From Seattle to Appalachia, and Her Letter Back

Rosemary, having returned to her Blue Ridge roots,
writes, "Dear Bobby: I cannot help but tell you
my heart broke leaving Seattle,
sorrowful, abandoning La Iglesia de La Puta,
knowing full well I too was puta,
but not your Henrietta Murphy
in your story of her youth in Mexico City.
Over where I sold my body, I could hear hoot owls hoot.

"I think my cunt is growing its hymen back.
I want you to tell me how to get out of hell
now that my swollen tits are dripping milk.
I am alone in the cabin my daddy bequeathed to me.
You first saw me naked in La Iglesia
where you entered my body
to make a baby in Seattle.
Loving in La Puta, we made our luck.

"I only want to love you where you are,
but better that you come to live with me.
I have suffered nothing that you have been through
and out the other side. Here I am poor
like my folks, like I was in your city,
where the night gave us paradise. What did I need?
the shrieks of the panther deep in these woods,
the sun filtering through trees among trees."

1 June-18 July  2014

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Soon he will be a child again.
You can see it happening
in his book of dogs and cats
and his luckless fate with women.

He begins and ends with nothing
but the only woman who loved
discoveries, even each of his lies.
He loved to watch the light in her child’s face.

And Minerva and Sam, which one is
eagle, which one turtle, female and male,
sky god or goddess, which one earth mover
turning up nothing that is not itself . . .

To accompany the child, the sinner.
Who needs to be good once you are happy,
or saintlike to rid yourself of evil . . .
Her name meant hope, but he never knew why.

In hope something exists that is not here,
where a man thinks he can know when love ends,
as for Emily Dickinson life ends
to give her transport to the other sphere.

(3 May 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, May 2, 2014

He Talks to Her, I Talk to You, or Did, Reading Dostoyevsky

1. I don’t know what to say, he said.
She said nothing.
He went away and stayed.
She saw him on special occasions.
When he was exhausted,
when he wanted to love her
which must have meant
he wanted her to love him.
She did, he worked in his office,
stayed out night after night.
Endless. Remorseless. Crazed,
he brought the ex-nun home
to meet her. You’re like a man
possessed, she said. I am? 
Demons rode in the saddle of his soul.
The ex-nun read books for a living
now. She should know.

2. You came in, lover. Angry, forlorn.
You wanted me to give you time
away. You stayed. I called,
you said, I’m not coming back.
You were adamant. I left myself here.
You came back. You slept
on top of the bed. Clothes on.
You must have feared me.
I thought of many reasons.
I would write to you,
and did, from far away,
but never mailed the letter.
I went farther away.
Thinking. Loving.
Going off and staying. 
Don't dwell on the dying or the dead.
Give the horse its head.

3. The ranch is very quiet.
When I work I get work done. 
I am loved again. Imagine.
The horses graze the canyon floor.
How far I have come. This deep.
Demons stare me down.

(2 May 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Outward Signs of Inward Grace

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty–

Crossing Brooklyn Bridge, Katya from the Ukraine
is on her way to meet Amy, who’s waiting to sublet
her Williamsburg walk-up. Amy will summer in her
other home, the small but satisfying two-story
deep within the North Carolina woods,

. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf,
a door. And of all the forgotten faces.
. . . O lost, and by the wind grieved,
ghost, come back again. . . .

whereupon Katya saying goodbye recalls her pleasure
meeting the fiery-eyed lovely who tricked
to learn what it was to write a novel
based on being a businesswoman so young
she either forgot the man or enjoyed him . . .

Understand: we have
grown into one as we slept and
now I can’t jump
because I can’t let go your hand.

The pages are published and the words taped
that Katya’s reading, returning to the Ukraine,
and on the way to Italy, hears Amy reciting.
On her birthday, Katya writes: Amy, I have no car
with Venice so close I’m sad I cannot swim that far.

And the sun goes down in waves of ether
in such a way that I can’t tell
if the day is ending, or the world,
of if the secret of secrets is inside me again.

(Italicized four-line passages are, consecutively, by Hart Crane; Thomas Wolfe;
Marina Tsvetayeva, trans. Elaine Feinstein; Anna Akhmatova, trans. Jane Kenyon.)

(1 May 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


The train jumped the tracks, plowed through the town,
on the ground twenty minutes that felt like two hours.
The sky with its eyes shut down, the man in the moon
shielding his face. Where there are no stars the wind,
God’s own locomotive, slams to smithereens what was
above the bald earth, the roots of bark-stripped trees.

(29 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, April 28, 2014


Leveling dark. Absence of owls. 
No sun igniting the sky while rain falls.
If you look long and listen hard
you may find some way to return
to what we remember we were
in that light always trailing us.
Your tracks have left your feet behind.
Wild webs. Door hanging by one hinge.

(28 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Reckoning (first draft)

Leveling dark. Absence of owls. 
No sun exploding the sky into rain.
I have looked long and listened hard.
In that way, I return to what I was
in that life always behind us.
My tracks have left their feet behind.
In the distance there is only the past.
Wild webs. Door hanging by one hinge.

(28 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


As soon as love showed its base intention,
a relic of his manhood stood, a ghost
whose shadow rose and fell in time to catch
a swallow casting its silvery glide
opening her passionate lips to speak:
When will you love like I would have you love
my body so my heart would know the soft
touch of a man, yours, stir ash to flame. . .

(21-22-23 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Antiphon (first draft)

As soon as love showed its base intention,
a relic of his manhood stood, a ghost
whose shadow rose and fell in time to catch
a swallow casting its silvery glide
and opened her beautiful lips to speak:
When will you love like I would have you love
my body so my heart would know the soft
touch a man, you, so easily will steal . . .

(21-22 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Street

They led me into the street, the others.
The little one gnashing her teeth,
eyes flickering under the sudden sun;
the suave guard with his collection of keys
sounding when one struck the others
like a call to prayer or to silence;
the tall, burly fighter, no one’s brother
now that he no longer climbed through the ropes,
posturing now only for sycophants;
San Francisco poeta with brave words
that could find no test equal to her charge;
and I could no more have written this then
than go to sleep when I was not walking,
find the hour of night I could call my own,
the hour of seeing my Irish lover
cavorting with her other secret men.
The street, how I loved to roam its borders
as though I were back in the fields again
listening hard, seeing through, tasting the air,
smelling the rainwater drenching my skin.

(15-16 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bobby Goes South along the Coast

She tells Bobby she loves and misses him. Such pain
runs deep down in both of them. To heal, he hitches
to San Francisco, that place in the West he loves.
His bedroll and little steno books are ample company,
with the money he’s earned over the years playing clarinet,
singing blues in the same places, but mostly Hotel Congress,
sleeping in La Iglesia De La Puta, practicing his alchemy–
what Paula calls what he tries to do with words–
but the music provides him dinero, like it does
his mother, who waits at the end of the line to see him.

There are girls who look across the room and he looks back.
There are women who see him hitching beside the road
into the white city; they stop their Lincoln Continental
and wait until he’s nearly there, then go on without him.
In the city he sees Paula’s sister. She’s free from meth,
got a new man whose sax she loves. She’s herself again.
They talk about Portland and Paula, Sanchez and Co.
He asks her to call Paula and tell her the good news,
she says she has. Now he goes to see Henrietta Murphy,
his mother, singing blues for a living on the edge
of La Jolla, a brittle edge. He sees Donna, still dancing
mostly naked at The Cave, Mission Beach, where they met.
He drives Henrietta’s car to take Donna home,
Imperial Beach. She rides him sinuously. Then he sleeps
beside her Afro, her dark body, her agile dancer’s legs
celebrating his return, however brief. And it is brief,
though like the last time he was here Henrietta makes dinner
for him and Donna, and then like before they cross the street
and lie on the sand in the shadows beyond the moon
bright as a sun with the tide coming in to spill
over their sandy bodies locked together. They come.
She takes him home for one last sleep before he leaves.

He misses loving her on the the East Coast.
In the dream, they've never met. Will he wake in time?
He sent off to Thomas Wolfe’s birthplace for a map.
Asheville looks almost part of the Smoky Mountains.
She lives near the Atlantic, though her town gets hot as hell.
In Seattle rain makes words and pictures on his window glass. 

(12-13-14 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Friday, April 11, 2014


One of numerous stones sifts through the mind’s seaweed
wavering in the water when a body moves through vertigo
and the current brings the tide in as sleep returns.

Years go by. The intern from Seattle sent north
from Minneapolis to this paradise of fish and deer
says the names of the stones strained through seaweed,
weightless before the middle ear freezes,
the shifting of stones become a slowness now,
heavier. The brain chatters, When will thaw come?

Through the body’s channels leading from head to legs,
one in sudden pursuit of the other
turning too quickly, the body tumbles.

Many years since the first such fall, the verbs
outnumber nouns, vowels the consonants,
and fear of the tic, the bloc on a d or t,
the poles of the inner ear melting that bordered
terrain with its white bear, its frozen deer, fish thawing, 
creatures seeking higher ground, waters rising.

After falling he regains the feet their ankles do not aid..
Vestigial memory knows how he learned to fall young
on the field, primordial body wedding flesh with bone.

(11 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fascicle of Amity: 20

This is the last
and least among
these unnamable
bundles of billets-doux.

She lives with corporate plague
so near I never go there

The character of her skin
is a pale shade now.
So many,
two men most,
sought to suck her beauty dry.

She learns fast.
Come too close to her, they die.

(10 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Fascicle of Amity: 19

                    One must imagine him happy.
                                    (from Camus)

Leave it to him to stir the air,
slake his thirst with the dew from leaves,
eat roots, shit where deer were their delicate
hoof prints. He sleeps once clouds shut out

In the sun and rain and winter furies
he remembers, love was all that changed him.
Hitching to town, walking most of the way,
in the internet coffee shops
he wrote

on napkins, sketching words, hammering sound
until music took shape. He read
aloud the only truly serious
philosophical problem, how to die
with grace

but by your own hand. The ideal
must be drained until it was real,
the blood in the rain your own blood
when she called from the other side,
Come here.

She hoped you would keep your promise and die
once she left you with the city's
levees burst asunder from hurricanes.
That was the city she loved like it was
her own.

(9-10 April 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fascicle of Amity: 18

I have sleep to do.
I have work to dream.
–Bill Knott (1940-2014)

’case it all gits outa hand
make yerself a mask ’n be sumthin
yer not
(who could not spell let alone talk)

It’s pleasant on Pleasant Street.
Besides, I love to walk,
go to the Jones Library
read in the Sir Francis Drake bar,

the one upstairs.
Downstairs I meet Charles and Mary
from Lowell: he’s black, she’s white,
they love their life. 

I walk over to Cronopios
where the book required, Cruelty
by Ai, “is selling like hotcakes.”
So I’m told. I’ll tell the students.

Next door, in the Quicksilver,
Tricia comes by for a kiss.
She asks me to go home,
it’s not a question or invitation.

I have pickled herring aplenty,
I say we can hit the mattress
and sup later. 
She says OK and doesn’t move.

I could go on. Patrick Johanson,
Paul Stevens, Lance Walker
of Amherst’s VVAW chapter, ask,
How was Korea? I answer, I was too young.

Lance was on the DMZ, with LLRP
(or LURP): Long Range Reconnaisance
Patrol over the De Militarized Zone
and into North Vietnam . . .

Johanson (of Saigon) works as bouncer
where Paul (from An Loc) is 86'd . . .
whereupon he got kicked bloody and bruised
in the cellar of the Drake

by a gang swearing he raped a woman
in ’nam, “Where were you?” Paul asked.
“What’d I look like? Why was she there?
How come you’re still alive?”

Paul cruises floors in town for lost money.
Johansen comes on duty. I leave with Tricia.
Night surrounds us. We have love to do,
I have work to make.

                            To the memory of il miglior fabbro
                            Adam Hammer (1948–1984),
                            who once roomed with Bill Knott
                            in Boston
                            –May the gods bless their old souls.

(25 March 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fascicle of Amity: 17

You chisel ice from the windshield
after starting the engine and 
gloves on, turning the heater down
once you’re on the road,
I wake by the time you are there,
thirty miles down the freeway where
you teach another day and drive
all the way back where I am not
waiting, I am nowhere, not here
nor there. I keep scribbling, hearing
actual voices around me,
curious why I was led here
to her house. All the others knocked
on her door, read dust in the air
and listened hard to the silence
whip the wind into dust devils
in no country you have come to,
though still you hear rivers flowing
and see the waterfall falling,
and say what there is you feel here
or you die too soon, you give up
but why when you have all the snow
and ice New England has to give.

(24 March 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fascicle of Amity: 16

No one catches on who was elsewhere.
Look at his eyes, their red rims.
Nonetheless happiness rings change.
She’s smiling, remembering. What?
Don’t even try, she loves him now
as then, when young he held Canipis
with both hands while she shot them
with the safety off: German shepherd
with her, Manuel working the mines,
a long sight better than rows of cotton
but not what he wanted. Moved north,
cleared overgrown fields, strung wire
and got the blue grapes to grow again.
By then Canipis was long gone.
By then they’ve lost their first son.
Here’s the second son. Can’t you tell
by the tentative, all-too-wary words?

(16 March 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander

Fascicle of Amity: 15

Put back in the dresser drawer
your dead son's baby clothes;
shift them to a tiny blue box
someone not me keeps forever.
Next time around he’s replaced
by one who must die in the north,
so it goes, Farmer’s Almanac
of souls that linger in limbo
and see everything writ large.
Not so now with the small words.
Settle for life itself. No worse
here than there. What death takes
fits in a boat, pennies on both eyes.
Some souls die to never quite rise.

(16 March 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander