LOVING YOU ON THE CHEAP
I stopped by
the Burnal Equinox
(the Burning Man thing)
to say hi,
but they wanted 25
because I looked
I liked that—
it's been a while
since I've had to pay
for looking normal.
I kept the 25,
went around the corner
had a cold drink
on five dollars
worth of quarters
topped off a few
before leaving town.
I’d have left a note
but didn’t know
in the middle
sits that dog you used to call Taffy—or was it
a cat you used to own?
I no longer recall
whether a bird flew past my window one night
or ten nights. Perhaps it was ten, each night
a place where dreams formed, where I begged
to be a child again, running through the poppies
and the lupine, chasing butterflies and catching
snakes and lizards in the grasses on the mountain
behind our house.
That house never burned down
like the one up the next hill. Do you remember
how the people gathered and watched the smoke
rise and how the smoke choked the onlookers
and how that family never returned?
how I used to play games with those girls, and
that I’d invite them to our home and we’d eat
fresh fruits, usually plums from our backyard.
George used to jump that fence, and he jumped
it once too many times. Hit by a car, he wore
that cast for several weeks. Remember how
he’d run down the stairs and greet you? All six
foot of him? He’s long gone now, but he spent
his best years in the Midwest on a farm. I cried
when he left, when you left. I bawled when you left,
and I didn’t know what to do when the runt kitten
from Punkin’s litter, the litter she bore in my closet,
died in my hands. We fed it milk, and now I know
that probably wasn’t the best choice. Not the best
choice to feed the runt milk.
—David Iribarne, Sacramento
Happiness is here
outside my window
let in in, let it stay for a while.
Let it bake and baste
let it simmer and marinate
for a while so when I taste it
I truly savor its juices.
Let it make a home
let it grow and bloom
overshadowing the dim lights
that creep in every so often.
Bring it close to me
let me breathe it in
take over my body
close my eyes
and open them everything
around me glows
all my chaotic cares slowly disappear.
I feel tingling through my soul
like when I taste a sweet strawberry
or when you eat chocolate cake for the first time
or when you meet your true love
and you don’t feel lost and insecure.
Happiness surround me
create a fence around me
that I cannot hurdle.
Stay here with me, don’t leave
I just want to smile and look at you for a while.
If, Monsieur Proust, you craft grand sentences
intently recording Swann’s long-raging fever,
and if these periods of the poor fellow’s illness
outswell what inflammation I can see
traces to the caprice of Odette de Crécy,
how do such thought-rapids slow to stillness,
not once diminishing the lost believer
in love, both dismantling and erecting fences
between the event and all minds which endure that event,
so that, as a jealous obsessive learns to eavesdrop,
to accuse the more furiously by keeping silent,
I, voyeur, mishear at the doorstep that’s his griefstop,
and why, a pickpocket eyeing my target sidelong,
do I slink off as if discovered, stridewrong?
I’m listening to Arnold Bax’s Enchanted Summer:
the poetry of Shelley set for orchestra, choir
straining their topmost range until on fire,
the lyric words in gorgeous flow though obscure.
But English tonal purity wins, that rich texture,
desirable tenderness (like yours), each syllable
afloat over brassy massifs and the brawnful
body of beautifully sawn strings. I could vex your
mind, my soulmate, with such sweet endless tapestries,
these relentless weavings of obsession: for you,
you are my very own enchanted summer.
And lacking the touch of your warm strong fingers, the heat of you,
all the songs I’ve sung to this point are small matter, scattered:
no music can truly possess me, or leave me its grace or peace.
those high sea-worn cliffs
eaten by thundering waves
the dark ocean
the rush curling in
the pulling back
the wild bird
let us drink to collaboration
on the page
off the page