Of the Sixties

Love Potion
#9 and all that whipped
cream that didn’t melt

under those harsh
lights. How do you play
an album cover

live? Or cross
the street like one? Or lie
on a park bench

with a smile? She would invent
her own dance
and whistle to respond,

her own style
of window-shopping
through a rainy day.

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Sensuous and Sensual Meet in a Dark Alley

Too distracted
to remember to mourn

the death
of romance

in her tale as told
by the most unreliable

narrator. Eyes
that see beyond

any field
of color

she might identify
with. Eyes

she can’t see past
to her next

step down

those flights
of stairs. Eyes

not vocal
chords or ears
this time around.

Night Fell

Slowly as a feather
drifting in luxury

down till it dropped
suddenly—a splat

of cobalt blue
inking the background

in all directions. That plane
taking off

from O’Hare
a week ago

really wasn’t gaining
altitude fast

enough, and I believed
for a moment

that my desire
to see you one more

time would kill
me for real. No near

miss. And then suddenly
it began

to climb,
and I realized

I would make it
back to Minnesota. Anywhere

you hang yourself
and survive

to tell the tale
is home.

Equinox Eve

The last day
of summer gets forgotten—
rafts and dinghies
already stored

in garage rafters
for winter. Some kids
starting their second
month of school. Some years

the leaves are already
turning—not this one.
Grieving the end
of nectarines and plums

over for weeks now. Memories
of swimming
in an ocean or lake or river or creek
in the heat fading

with a full harvest moon
that rose
three nights ago.
She missed it again—but not

the double rainbow that appeared
before a steady mist
accompanied yesterday’s civil
twilight. She won’t forget that.

The Sound of Two Memories Colliding

When he makes
love, he talks—he adores

those vocal chords. But
then subtitles
for the hearing

impaired could be a series
of grunts and snarls, doors

slamming shut—the official
language of last
century’s troubadour. And

those bites were as real
as the slap

in his face—all
while we held each
other’s hearts on mute.

Laugh Phoenix

You are my laughing phoenix,
I am yours.
Our cackling woke the dead.
Endlessly we cracked jokes
waiting for the fire engines (not red)
to arrive.

No, wait! Hurry! Get back
inside. Let the smoke
choke us out of five hundred years’
worth of played-out puns.
Six hundred too many Arabian nights
have us cracked up under the moon.

Reduced to ashes, we could ask to be blood-red,
winged beauties next to one another
shaking feathers forever in the desert.

But you would not reinvent yourself
with me. For me,
the ashes scatter irreverently. For you,
tradition’s fire in the belly burns
as you wait for ladders and hoses.

Dry as the skin of wakened dead,
the puns will reduce me
to tears for five hundred or so
more years. Unless, of course,
you weren’t my last,
laughing one.

To Cross the Path of an Albino Squirrel on Friday the 13th

To hang sconces
so low they could poke
an eye out. To climb
a ladder left
to rot beside
a dead pigeon still
in perfect form. To bruise
the right
wrist when the left
ankle is already packed
in ice. To be so
vulnerable is no more
bad luck than
cracking up in full
length mirrors.