No. 6 in E-flat Minor: Andante, largo e mesto

There is a picture
on my dresser
of a lovely girl
I once forgot
how to love
petting my
young kitten
and
it’s a hard thing
because
it intones
my depression–
neither of them
being here
now.

A young genius
plays Brahms’
Op. 118
all the way
from 1961–
or, perhaps,
from 1893
(if you
prefer).

I was young
and I still am
but my heart
is not.

I’m a genius too,
maybe,
but I haven’t
yet
found
my medium.

In
all my life
I’ve never known
a lover
like Brahms
or a composer
like
her.

A beer after work

Surreptitious
shadows
are just
picking their
fingernails
and hoping
their biceps
look okay
in this shirt.

I was in love once,
but all I can
remember
is that I memorized
her underwear
and forgot
how to let her
make me
breathless.

It’s all
too much–
inflatable
orca pool toy
and
the breast up to
the uttermost
edge
of her nipple
out
but not
quite…
almost.

“Almost,”
they all
say,
but why?

Why almost?

Everything but
the nipple
is really
everything
if you place
your lips
there.

“We’re out of
laundry
detergent
and
forgiveness,”
she says.

If a smile
meant
what it should,
then
I would have already
kissed you
deep
like a rose–
strong like a
rose.

A bird’s
nest
is
a miracle.

I am
the grass
beneath
all boots
and the stars
you wish
upon.

She is
the quiet
of hope
in
my
smoothly-
shifting
fingers.

There are
beautiful
people
everywhere.

“the people look like flowers at last”

So there I was,
recognizable beer
running to the
top
of my plastic
cup
in little
life
bubbles
while also
leaking out
its circuitous
story
on the rough-hewn
wooden table–

“Rooftop bar pen!”
the sign had read–

Someone had
rubbed out
the “O.”

I wanted to see
a secret sunset
so I gave it
a shot.

The stairs
had been a bitch,
but
I was already
done with them
by the time
I realized it.

I ordered the beer
I knew
and then wondered
if the girl
who poured it
knew
I was a coward
for that
and many other
things.

Over the railing
with the rattling
hum
of the air-conditioners
(we ruin
rooftops
with air-conditioners),
I saw clothing lines and started
to breathe
easier.

There was a grill on an adjoining
green
apartment building
on their
roof
next to
their air-conditioners
and
a potted plant
staring forlornly
at
a dilapidated
yard which was more
gravel
than
grass.

(I think there’s something
to be said
there,
but it’s
hard to know,
sometimes.)

Speaking of
downtown
riverfront
apartments–
I don’t really
trust
people who live
higher than
the third floor
of
a building
because
they obviously
haven’t thrown themselves
off, yet.

(The pavement
is really
a rose.)

Anyway, I saw a restaurant
a block over
which was
in its orgasmic throws
of dinner business–
I know this girl
from years back
who
works
there,
but she doesn’t know
I think about her.

I wish you could
tell people things
without them thinking
you want something–
other than telling them
things,
I mean.

If I could’ve,
I would’ve told her
that her laughing smile
was just about
the only thing
about this place
that makes me
think of
sunflowers.

She made it
into that weird group
of ten or so
girls
from whom
you pick a thing or two about them
and make them into
this Frankenstein-ess
patchwork
perfect woman;
the truth is,
though,
if you met that girl on the
street,
you’d
hate
her.

Anyway,
she was down there
probably
and I thought about
walking down
and “happening”
to run into her
there, but I’m both
a coward
and
a cynic,
so I convinced myself
that I was
above that
and better
for choosing
loneliness.

Her smile when she was
laughing
was about as good
as not being
alone,
or maybe
they’re
really
the same
thing.

I watched as a couple
in a boat
crisply
glided over the
river
and under
the drawbridge
and there were cars
zip-lining
across the bridge at the same time,
and
I don’t know why
but
I started to cry.

God,
it felt so good to cry–
I really
needed
to cry
but
you aren’t allowed
to cry,
so I had to
choke it off.

Far below,
there were
peasants
pointing up
at my keep,
and I imagined
giving them
my leftover
beer,
but I
didn’t.

I went to pay
for the beer
and I jumped over
this curbing
that they had
so the bartender
wouldn’t think
I was
as much
of
a coward.

I tried to smile,
but it came out a little
crooked
and sour.

I walked toward
the stairs
smirking
and then,
on the way
down,
I smiled
and thought
some more
about
that girl
unfurling her
laughing
sunflower smile
and about
how perfect
everything
was.

Her Eyes

Her eyes,

You really should
see them–
I wish you could.

They’re soft
and round
and they tell a story
before
you even
look
away–

But I
was already in love
with her
by then.

Her eyes
are like a good book
or
a sunset
or a
soft
kiss.

They
are full
of sunlight
and murmuring
surf
and warmth
of icy
blue.

I love her eyes
so much
that I
hate her.

I can’t explain–

I wish
I hadn’t
tried.

You’ll forget yourself–

I swear to God–

you’ll forgive
the street
you grew up
on–
the street
you grew up
hating.

Her eyes
will make you
feel
like
you’re drowning
in a field
of wheat
or
that you’re
a bird
who burned away
in the
sun.

There she is!

Go!

O,
see for
yourself!

I’m sure you won’t need
an excuse–
it must happen
to her
all the time.

Did you see them?

Goddamn
sunglasses;
they ruin
everything
that isn’t
already
shit.

I’ll take that next
beer
now
if
you’ll let me
toast
the clouds
and this
mediocre
sunset.

Sunset in Our Glade

“The sun is setting,”
I said.

“Hush now, my love, and listen as
the leaves
whisper,”
said she.

See how the moon
is impatient
to crack
its moonbeams
on thy
damask
countenance?

Already,
the elves
stir
from their
half-sleep
and
all leaves
tremble
in dance
at their
silver lutes
and
wooden flutes.

Upriver,
the mossy
gnolls
embellish
stories of
their
silent
slumber.

Hand upon her
chin,
she turns her
thin
wrist
in a flourish
and,
smiling,
melts back into
memory.

“Hush now, my love, and listen as
the leaves
whisper,”
say I.

Another Silver Poem

For me
it always
comes out
silver.

I crack these poems
open,
sometimes,
to see if they’re
silver
all the way through
(I usually wake up
just as I
see,
but can
never
remember
what
it was
I
saw).

I only know
of golden
things
because people
talk
about them.

For me,
it’s always
silver.

Effervescent platinum
thrushes
gushing forth
their
soul melodies
in silver
recompense
for all
blood-lined
pewter
skys.

I wish
I could have
just one taste
of gold–
“her hardest hue to hold,”
indeed.

6 pillows on a queen mattress

I was lying
in my bed
feeling quite
sorry
for myself.

I was being
crushed
again
by loneliness,
to tell you
the truth.

I had my
pillows
all around me–my
buffers from
the horrors
of
my too-large
bed–
and my
classical music
playlist
was
playing.

Chopin
started
to
____m
___e
___l
__t
from my
speakers
and I
reflexively
curled my body
around
those pillows–
we became
inextricable.

I wept.

I wept for all the world
and I wept for
what we’ve done
to love,
but
mostly
I wept for
myself.

I curled my spine
and slid my back
up against
the speakers
and let the sounds
spill
over my shoulders
and softly
sing
my tears
down,
d
o
w
n,
down.

You
are gone
and sometimes
I can’t think
and I can’t speak
and I can’t write
and I can’t
remember
what being
touched
is like.

(My shoulders shake
and my chest heaves
and my knees quake
and my belly grieves.)

You are gone
and sometimes
I can’t breathe,
but
thank God
I haven’t
yet
lost the ability to hear
hope
in a piano.

First Love

Growing up
happens
painfully slowly,
and then
allatonce.

I loved
this dumb girl
and
she loved
me
too.

“But that’s
not
HOW
YOU
TREAT
PEOPLE,”

I yelled.

My chest
was heaving
and my hair
was all mad
and I couldn’t
tell you
how
it all happened,
but
she tripped over
the open dryer door
while trying
to back away
from
me.

“Why were you
shrinking
from me;
I would
never
hit you,”

I said.

She had this
look
like a
half-crazed
and beaten
dog
and that’s when
it
hit
me:

this
was my
allatonce.

Didn’t she see?

I’d seen this movie
before
and
I could keep it
from being
a sad ending
where
no one
was
in love.

July Moon

Watch glittering
all silver
and
luminous
like
the moon in
July
when it’s
just an
average moon
but everyone
makes a big deal
of it–
and
it burns you up
because
you’ve seen
a February
moon
take the breath
out of a
forest
and
hand it over
to you.

I hate to say it–
I’d rather lie–
I didn’t do anything with
that
moon-breath.

Maybe I
used the last
of it
the last time
I
masturbated.

The tough part
about
loneliness is
hearing
a woman’s
laugh.