Gail is living in New York, stripping
furniture for pay. Her first child sleeps in
the playpen on the dark side of the room.
She is creating soup from a Chinese recipe
book. Her pots and pans are hanging on a
string above the sink.
Art books are pressed between two
boards before a window from which goes
a long, wound wire for drying clothes.
The proper couch her father brought seems
out of place. Upon it now, the wounded dog
the car hit sleeps full-length and twitching in
Outside the thrice-locked door, three flights
of stairs go down to where the loud and quiet
women sit on summer steps, to watch the
children, and watch the men return from where
they go, and watch the sun go dark behind the
sudden blot of buildings.
Gail is in love with time. Her face is full
of it. She breaks a full-grown mirror and
glues its pieces to a cloth that she hangs in
some mosaic of herself. New finds are added
to the walls which grow so high Art disappears
or merges, as it must, with hoisted extra chairs
Gail never seems to cry. Her face is young
and full of love. Ritchie will come home soon
to be adored. He will come through the subways
to her from his job. Their son awakes. She
holds him on a chair that rocks.
(first pub. in Parting Gifts, 1993)
That woman, born of man,
must parallel him,
saying his praise for him
and causing his uneasiness—
for he travels her
from his mind to his meaning
and feels no answer for her.
She must be happy for him
Both love and denial are her name,
and he calls her both and often,
beginning with one word
and changing to the other
since he cannot remember which of her
is need and
which of her is blame.
And she must answer to him
every Sunday in the rain
where she submits to
above her secret laughter.
Even though his angry loneliness
surrendered the one payment that he gave,
he has never allowed her
his great and glorious gift,
for he feels stolen from. (See how
he holds his testicles in sleep.)
He dreams her perfect
and must flaw her
with his perfect pain.
(first pub. in Aphra, 1976)
OF YOUR LIFE:
(Reading Alain Bosquet)
A walk through the mystery that is sold here,
make it your own.
Buy it now.
Pay any price. Take it home with you.
It is real enough
to walk at your side like a beautiful woman.
Name it nostalgia; it will love you.
It will slip its arm around your waist
and walk in harmony with you.
It will not miss its show window where
it lived in admiration.
Name it souvenir.
It will be all you have to remember.
This is my own darkness;
I pay it well.
I say, come live with me
and I will tell
how shadow makes
its life in me—
how anguish carves
Oh, come and be
my best regret.
There is not room
for others yet.
Pay me enough love, poor dear,
and you will be rich forever—never need
to stray to another—fear
my displeasure—never bleed
where your heart now is. Love is my only greed.
YOUR COINS UPON THE TABLE
How randomly they count for what we earn and
owe, as though wealth can lie so carelessly within
our lack—such casual squander.
My hands pretend to touch them where they’re
spread in silver heaviness. You placed them there
and sighed, your measured pocket free again.
Your palm arranged them—looking for the one
that might be truly silver, then withdrew toward
a glass from which you drank and scowled into.
Some thief-hand might find them—beautifully
displayed, while we, estranged in sleep, dream
of a hundred things to own. No want is big enough
We left them there all night, as if they might yet pay
their way in weight or quantity. How very sure we
were that that was what we meant.
THE RULES OF NIGHT
We give ourselves over to the rules of night
which are heavy with stone meanings.
And we are obliged to follow them,
for they are truths,
weights of our own discovery:
moralities and religions—
directions of responsibilities—
ways that are not easy,
that are the world’s weight—
absolute with difficulty.
Decisions cost everything
we can ill afford,
but we pay, and become poor.
Nothing is easy, we repeat,
to make life bearable.
And we are strong until we break.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's tasty delights on the Seed of the Week, Payday. About her work, Joyce says "the word 'payday' had led me to the cost of everything, in life, love, relationships, the haves, the have not's..."
Our new Seed of the Week is somewhat related, as we head into Independence Day and what it initially cost and continues to cost: Bravery Is... As always, though, think out of the box: "Gail in New York" (see above), life, love, relationships—they all cost just as much in bravery as they do in cold cash, yes? Send your poetry, photos and artwork about same (or any other subject!) to email@example.com. No deadline on SOWs.
I just ain’t got it yet!