[b]Tongue Tied[/b]

I don’t know how to say things anymore,
Whether what I say is any good,
Or merely crap that has collected
At the mouth of the pipe
All those years since shutdown,
All those years ago, blasting outwards,
Yellow and greasy, fetid, stinking
Forced out by the flood.

[b]Rat Tailed Wanting[/b]

Long tailed want gnaws hard,
old friend, grinds at the heart,
digests old dreams, defecates
desires we never had when young.
Our days of poverty are gone –
days we walked through Simi heat,
pregnant with hope, dreams packed
tightly, seeping out our eyes. We
have made it, as they say, made
a thousand deals, made a life,
made our bed, and lie here panting.
This rat tailed want gnaws holes,
masticates those younger days.

[b]On Meeting Honest Abe[/b]

“Let go now. I won’t call the police,”
I tell him, sorry somehow, although
he’s tried to run off taking with him
almost every damned thing still useful
in this remnant of a life I now
can call my own. You see –

beaten, I arrived by Greyhound bus,
took the northern exit to Fifth Street,
stopped at Eldora’s, bought a latte.
Sipping, I set my carryall down
(carelessly, I guess). Whistling, he came
strolling up the sidewalk.

“Good morning,” he said, quite lazily.
“Good morning,” I replied, thinking why
not be friendly to him? He’s poor, but
so am I. “I’m Honest Abe,” he said.
He peered at me. “You troubled. Why, babe?”
So I told him about leaving you.
I don’t know why. Just did.

He wanted to know, then, why I left,
what you did, how I felt, what I said.
“Babe, he beat you?” he wanted to know.
I told him it was me, just me, not
you. Not anything you said or did
or were. He rubbed his chin.

Then, I don’t know why, I told him how,
eight months after Richard fired me
(eight months of dark blue suits, interviews,
trolling the canyons for one small bite,
one infinitesimal chance), I
just simply stopped trying.

How I had puttered in the garden,
artichokes, guavas, celery, chives.
How you came cheerily home, happy,
supporting me in my stabled life,
contented, so pleased, supporting me
in my corralled milieu.

How I rose later each day, each day
finding less of interest. How each day
cleaning, tending chives, cooking dinner
took one more measure of my freedom,
one more ounce of blood. How each day dawned
hard and unrelenting.

How this morning I had turned to you,
kissed you fondly, for the husband you
had been, rose, packed, weathered your questions,
left the car keys and dog, called the cab,
caught the Greyhound bus with just my clothes,
some jewels, and ninety bucks.

Abe yawned and stretched languidly. He said,
“That all you got in the wide world, babe?”
and before I finished nodding, snatched
the handle of my carryall. But
he tripped a little, see, so I grabbed
it, too. I stopped him. Now

we’re playing tug-of-war. I promise
not to call the cops, if he’ll let go.
I don’t know. It’s something in his eyes,
his slick survival of the poorest,
and it’s something in my soul, maybe
mercy seeking mercy.

So I tug, holding the thief who heard
my secret, the secret I couldn’t
tell you. Here I am, wondering why
I could not tolerate compassion,
why your kindness was so cloying, why
I am here, being robbed.

[b]Faustus Law[/b]

1. Devil Paramour

He came to me as lover,
said, “You are belle tournure,”
metamorphosed into flesh and blood,
laid me down, rucked my mind.

He flew me to the high place,
stood me on the cliffs, wrapped
sinewed arms around my waist,
cupped my private places in his hands
showed me panoramas in deep dry lands.

Enthralled, I arched toward him,
gave to him my hands, my pen,
my mind, took from him ambition,
and paltry plentitude.

2. Daeva Solicitor

Sold on high, sold on goods,
goods delivered, signed and sealed,
I wander lonely, thirsty, dead,
eyes seeing nothing, hunger great,
burdened with directives from the junta,
the soul eaters, the hurry-ups,
the managing mentoring higher-ups
whose eyes are wild as mine, whose
souls are lost as mine.
They hurry me.

Each week I get a check, each
day I have plenty. I wander endlessly
the caverns in my mind, pushing
buttons, searching for the answers,
chained to my station, jangling
in the recess of my mind.

3. Old Love

My old love calls to me.
Old Love, I hear you say:
Where did you go? I know.
I followed Faustus’ cries,
unwound myself from you, not
wanting poverty, not trusting
in the beauty that you gave me.

4. Doctor Demon

He tells me: if you leave me
you will die. I have examined
you and found: We are entwined too much,
melanomic fingers insinuated you, as they
did me so long ago. He throws me this,

stands quietly. We are
frozen together, souls
echoing in mists of time.

He says: It happened long ago,
and then I know. I know that I
will woo someone, grab lives,
take loves, place shackles
on some souls, sell woe.

5. Dreams of Angels Far Away

I rise to moonbeams
on smooth parquet floor,
pad to the window, part
curtains, feel the icy smoothness
of panes turned cold.

Your voice came through the mists
of transient dream, on whisps
of wolf calls. Ayyyyeeeeiii.
Souls touch but can’t unfetter,
can’t unclog the waxy sludge.

I felt your skin against me,
welcomed you like old
infiltrated yearnings.
I want infusion. I want
the joy we used to bleed.

There’s no escape from Hades,
once you eat of Hades’ seeds.
No singing loud to spouses, no
Shoeless Joe bellowing into ears
of wives and nights. No jumping
funny devils to confound.

I am captive, here at window,
hear your voice call through
the mists, unable to respond,
eternally chained, enthralled
to him, prestigious want.

by Harley Hill (c)2002
([email]harleyhi [at] lemoorenet [dot] com[/email])

[b]Author’s Notes:[/b]
Harley Hill is a lawyer and writer living on the Californa Central Coast. She resides, with her dog Roma, in a quaint cottage near an avocado orchard, an orange tree, and a camellia tree.

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