–after Denise Levertov
American Sonnet 23
here’s to my ruined curbless urban psyche/the spent
tempest fleeing the golden rain of cruel day
wandering star-starved punched-out bleached-blind
here’s to the poison i greedily consume as sustenance
to the killer humdrum of my life without fulfillment
my love’s isolation, my nation and me – our bickerings
i drink the cold ugly and funky negro divas who
cast me down their death-dealing amused eyes
delighting in my writhing/castration/made numb
in this world – made brutal made coarse made jealous of
they who have usurped and commodified god
my uncompromising vision and to the young blood who
tells me i carry the broom like a cross
May the sky widen between your eyes
and a storm twist across your thoughts.
May the false images you create devour all you
give birth to. May the false images you worship obscure love.
May you look in the mirror and see the malignancy.
May you writhe in dishonor. May you writhe hearing the voices
of those you have dishonored. May you writhe knowing the
whole of the pain you’ve caused others.
May the limitations you impose on those more gifted
than yourself steal the beats of your heart.
May you be kept out of the heaven
from which you have kept others.
May no one hear your last words.
May a small rodent eat your last words.
cheap water-based paint, lust ten layers
over and over the walls speak
voices clear and without accent tell me
what one so-called friend kept secret
a terrible penalty will be paid for trust
(o and to think i brought it into the
who was the Hecuba who believed good
could rule out genetic predisposition
and nullify cradle-to-grave social abuse?
who was the Hecuba who could
midnights bring on poisoned sleep
spells for success fail
and a wedding day bodes an abiding and
relentless bleeding. downfall will
come with the muted cries of lock-key
his pleasure restricted to the pursuit of
his dope-fed illusions & her deluded
that not only can she overcome adversity,
but bad advice and the jealousy of knaves.
their journey is a shock-ridden careen
through a wasteland of slashed wrists,
amphetamines and unscratchable itches.
their deep-Hollywood story will
come to its predictable ending: the rape of
beauty, a secret bludgeoning, the
death of an angel
but when this grim heart
slips into its grimmer past of
terror shame rage
where broken dreamless nights
are interred, there is no relief
in pretense. fantasy is an affront.
ordinariness was wanted yet denied. what
was never learned in time proved the
undoing. mind be still. the crack-up
intensifies these recollections,
resurrects the flood of a bitter spring
you know it’s your fault you
kept doing it when you should’ve
stopped. you squandered irretrievable
bliss. you. the reason of you the
mirror says you, the highball glass
you, your face floats up from the ash and
smoke at the end of this cigarette.
the clock spun backwards around you.
behind the closed door out you stepped.
under the merciless light you were
these are the dark currents in which
you do the butterfly stroke upstream. you. so
rude & tender & strong. you are a
no, a watcher, no, a warden. you are what
so dearly paid for. you are the gas pedal
to the floor. your beauty is a maker of
myths. on your tongue piss turns to milk
you devastate me
do not remember. forget
a dream among objects
outside that closed door of
the rosewashed room, framed
against the doorway, a Queen Anne’s
the sitter waits in shadow
we did not meet. there was
no entanglement of tongues
i did not experience love
race did matter
and my hymen did not break
you were unconcerned about impressing
anyone, least of all my parents
our stars did not cross
there is nothing to the past
forget my name
Requiem for a Nest
the winged thang built her dream palaceamid the fine green eyes of a sheltering boughshe did not know it was urban turfdisguised as serenely delusionally ruralnor did she know the neighborhood was rifewith slant-mawed felines and those long-talonedswoopers of prey. she was ignorant of the acidity & oilthat slowly polluted the earth, and was neverto detect the serpent coiled one strong limb belowfollowing her nature she flitted and dovefor whatever blades twigs and mudcould be found under the humming blueand created a hatchery for her spawnnot knowing all were doomed