A Man Has His Needs
There was a time when all I saw was your face
contorted with frustration, smelled your breath stinking
of cheap rum. Every night you passed through the hells
of the cantinas. ‘Making space’ was the word
for vomiting in situ. More rum, guapa, come,
let me feel you. The kids were too little
to know anything else, but they both stood
in front of me when you fell into the house.
You knew what you were looking for, brushed
them aside like annoying insects wiped off a sleeve.
I can’t help but feel some relief, and I visit
you only this one time to make sure they locked
you up for good. At least you killed her first.
Aunt Martha’s Adornments
She hobbles to her place at the table
squinting to read the names
on those large gold-rimmed plates,
too vain to pull out her glasses.
She was invited for old time’s sake.
A big brooch on her lapel leads the eye
away from her wrinkled neck, her long earlobes
pulled down by gold. Dramatic rings
emphasize knuckles and thick veins.
You don’t see the liver spots
when the rubies are real.
A choker with an ivory pendant
moves up and down when she swallows,
hardly able to chew her meat. Hair curls
over a neck which was once kissed in the nape.
She remembers young, smooth skin
on round forearms, bracelets tinkling,
silver rings on delicate fingers,
a turquoise pendant leading the eye
to her rounded breasts, rhinestones
shimmering in the candle light.
How could she have arrived here from there—
it seemed only yesterday when he pretended
to strangle her with her Indian silver chain.
At this hour the world is dark and empty.
Her toes don’t have to touch the cold stone floor
to understand the value of a warm bed.
She doesn’t have to lift the curtain to confirm
the green mix of pale-yellow street lanps
and the first blue morning glow. She turns
over, reaches across for his body and her
hand finds no purchase. She buries her face
in his pillow, takes a deep breath and remembers
his bent back, coat collar up against the wind.
Madelaine used to scream
her orgasms. Summer-night windows,
blue beat from next-door’s deck.
you and your lover
made beautiful music.
Let it be, let it be.
The cat slinks
through the hedges.
The girl without a head scarf
Amira left home.
Dumped her headscarf
Tangiers and Marseille.
Frigid Arab bitch,
he hissed to her denial.
Whispered secrets into her skin.
Amira had become voiceless,
adrift at a great distance from herself.
When he buried his need
deep inside her
in that room-by-the-hour,
no salvation was offered,
and none taken.
He stared at her with malice.
and remained empty.