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