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