The rooms of the house
Faded and folded flat
Ready to spring back up
When you crack the spine
I tape over the windows
Staple the doors shut
Erase the doorknobs
Scribble over the locks
You will not evict me
I will remain between the sheets
A bookmark holding the place
Where you stopped reading
Roof over Faux Ozarks
The blue tarp and the drop ceiling
battle it out, each struggling for the right
to be called the true sky, each daring the other
to lean down and kiss the chicken-wire mountain range
that rises above the electric train set, its plywood landscape
balanced on sawhorses in the flooded basement.
The water hasn’t risen over the levees yet,
the power lines, the Bijou marquee,
the A &P, the horse drawn wagons waiting
patiently at the crossings, all of them are still dry.
I’ve been renting a room in Mrs. Fitzsimmons’ boarding house
at the corner of Prohibition and Dismay, both of which end
in cul-de-sacs less than a painted gray block away.
Nights I stroll through the half-lit hamlet,
wishing the flood waters would drop
or that someone upstairs would get around
to building a saloon already.
I stand in the middle of the painted river, step on the heads
of the painted fish, sit in the shade
of a sponge tree. One evening, inside one of the homes
I find a tiny electric train set and wonder if there
is an even tinier version of myself
standing at the base of one of those
pipsqueak peaks. I wave but don’t notice
any of the microscopic figures wave back.
Moonlight on the Bowery
The cold, the cowl, the creak.
The scoured skin, the granite chin,
the black cinder stare.
The blast of steaming breath,
the wolf with heaving ribs
among the birches.
The razorblade that nicks the cloud.
The cracked leather that
crunches the snow.
The birds flicker like dark licks of flame
in the bony bushes.
The furred and slimy things
are curled up warm beneath the dirt,
burrowed deep beneath the bark,
hibernating through their hangovers.
But here you are; hunted, hunting,
your snout snuffling powder
as you weave through the woods,
following a single set of tracks;
In memory of Lou Reed, 1942-2013
You coughed up a bauble. I caught it
We met. You split. I placed
the milky globe between
your lips. You sucked
it in and licked
your chops and smiled. I ducked before
you swung. You choked. I didn’t
make a move to help you
catch your breath. I laughed.
I left; instead
I should have lunged. You should
have struck. My brittle self
Thrashing trees, flashbulb pop of transformers.
The roof rattles and knocks, shingles plucked
and flung to the beleaguered lawn. The occasional crack
as some huge object hits the ground. Tantrum
of an angry god, spirits moaning. The earth is shredded
by the teeth of the hungry storm, then spat out.
We are humble creatures shivering in our burrows,
huddling in our ragged nests.
Shuddering in a hollow log, our spirits gnawed
to stumps. Trapped in a drafty space beneath a stone.
The waters rise to flush us from our dens.
The lamps flicker. The TVs blink off.
Our phones are dead but we are shivering and alive.
Water floods our cellars, limbs lash at our attics.
Come morning, it will all have passed, and we’ll stagger around
the remains of the neighborhood, looking for
our migrated lawn ornaments. The garden gnome
found smashed to colorful chunks in the middle
of the driveway. Two blocks over, the uprooted
plastic flamingo discovered flattened in the gutter.
But until then, we wait out the storm, trembling as the rug
is pulled out from under us. We are alone. We are devoured.
We are so brutally loved.