The morning the year turned
rain laid its slick pelt down,
sixty degrees, almost steaming, and
the last mangoes were on their way to rot.
Dad would bring them every December––
imported jubilance for austerity of
winter. Still touched from Peruvian sun.
Every morning I’d halve one, till January.
Point the knife, angle, slice.
swap for the dull spade of the spoon
gliding, smooth, along the cranial shape,
the routine scrape of a sweeter flesh.
I wanted to rid my head of you
how I clean this skin. How I salvage
and do away with the rest.
How you never showed,
a soft spot of wilt,
how it’s someone new every year.
How tenderness bruises
in an absence of touch.
This Morning’s Manicure Requirements Given Your Neurosis
If you have the patience, the loose, languid gesture
of the hand might just catch on someone,
drag them out, caught like a thread.
You’ll wear a shirt untucked rather than
disguising a seam pockmarked with red
or be blissfully unaware of
the incessant throbs that thrum
at the swell of your thumb,
the there there there of pulse
Today you may just be good.
If you have the patience, the file will grate your callous
back to nil, manage ten round edges.
Do not yield to the fiery burn of the flesh––
the antiseptic’s clean.
You may be heard, you may be seen—or enmesh
another touch with yours,
close in on a prayer.
Polish over the keratin cracks with a glossy lacquer layer.
For good measure shake with friends or priests,
offer a smile at very least
to someone who will maybe listen.
If you have the patience
you won’t nibble away at the nothing left
but count five cool digits and
ball a fist.
You’ll probe fearlessly, not yank at
all the misgivings or twist
the formless skin-grey terrors until
they bleed away into fleeting relief.
Save yourself and the familiar grief
of picking away and away and away.
To have patience is a virtue—
a thing to muster today.
You had the intention of release,
scaling my bunk to cup the insect
in your palm,
stubbornness and pride mingling on your face.
I watched you not watching me.
Maneuvers are delicate, especially these,
to rescue something sudden.
Nature always found a way in,
indifferent to man even if
in this room there was woman.
I thought it fit for ceremony,
watching the lovely thing
lift beyond the window,
if we might sing watching it take off,
a fragile bundle in the cold cold night,
Your superstition collided with the
the turn of your joke–– lucky us.
I thought that the upturn of your lips
creating the word us might crush me then,
a lunar desert of possibility.
You crushed the bug instead, a misjudged
fluke of movement and faith.
It fell between the bedframe and the wall.
We had tried gentleness.
but chance is cruel,
and timing poor.
You had the intention of release.
Weird what I had for Wednesdays,
a midweek inkling for something good,
a fine slick cure to end the night.
There were whiskeys––there were wines.
Settled on the grocery Malbec, which was fine,
I watched the liquid lip the rim.
Precarious sip. Sour bite.
My glass-purple chalice, a Goodwill gift.
The natural ornament for these kinds of bits.
Dusk descends early now since
no one’s around.
I’m clouded by those
petals I found. You had whatever
witchy salves, white waxes,
it’s good when half the bottle’s down.
Now the winters in Atlanta are warm,
a nauseous, humid plume of wet.
(I’m reminded of you bringing whoever around.)
We never would have made good duet.
A hazardous minor crashing of sound.
A drop fell from my lip to my hand,
a rash red bloom of liquid on skin.
Familiar sight. Inflicting itch.
That’s how it was. (Still how it is.)
Felt something sick thrum under the wrist.
You loved the bottle empty as it is.
In seconds I would trade your hand for this cup.
You were the thing. You were the thrill.
Something in the throat is climbing back up.
So naturally I adore you if it makes me ill.