Where have you been all my life
now that it’s nearly done?
Here on this island of our birth?
Where minds venture like hands
and pedestrians traffic in
solstice cold they import from
There to Here on overcoats into gin mill
noctilucence wherein frigidity ensues
then overturns itself.
Where they sit apart, that woman and man
once lovers, on the longest
night of the year.
Here they speak only in syllables but
there in the throwback booths fashioned
perpendicular, prismatic high-
Where two slip into one
as we did once
risking scandal. Those two over
There—it’s obvious they are in
over their heads
having once been head
Back then, Ramses II was believed
to have fathered
one hundred children.
Matrimony is like that.
Everyone was drunk
when first they met.
The woman was a girl in disguise.
Ricochet barlight on white of a beard.
There, poets were never made to adhere.
Where again, it’s your dime.
There, the scherzo’s on you, pal.
Put a couple of quarters in
Where once you might have wrangled a tone.
Request permission to employ vocabulary, sir!
Currying curious favor I, choir member, cant.
Right here, te quiero, quemamos. I want you. We burn.
Can I carry your books?
Are you generous or dangerous?
Beware, where poets dally, neologisms
being diagnostic for madness.
Where mushrooms grow and worms wind.
There goes thy long-reserved senility.
There, swans are mean, they mate for life.
Where you dream of eating
one, but I pushed the head of that last one
under, as into an oven, thinking
Now “it’s your turn, PeeWee.”
Where I once was angry,
I now swan around,
the size of a fist.
There, Buoyancy took hold,
where no singing I do fails
to please me
and that is saying something for to go
there I know you
There is still a market
for a woman who knows how
to diagram a sentence
in a corset.
Here she is.
Humidity grows high and heat holds it tight.
Pupils wiggle free of their seats. An angel cracks
A can open. A voice breaks. Triple plays transpire. Twilight
Corazon radio love, Sonido Suave and tank tops are back
With a vengeance. Sirens mesmerize. Quipping, some flirt. Beach
Boys oldies resound with static edges. Freedom screams,
Whiffle-snap nights herald the long-awaited reach
Of lilac and garbage-scented June. Waterfowl careen,
Raw-voiced over the harbor. A little spot outside
Goes a long way here, where a fire escape can save your life.
Rockaway Jamaica Bay gulls swoop, drop, dive
Over Gotham waters running various and rife—
Veils of low-hanging humidity June imposes
Promise July’s chain-link fences lousy with roses.
Maruccinus, You’re Asinine
Adaptation: Catullus XII
Marrucinius, you’re asinine, deft indeed, slick too,
at least when you’re sober, and your crappy de-
meanor otherwise leaves much to be desired.
Take your sleazy maneuvers, Klepto, like your
brazen pilfering of my dinner napkins!
You think larceny’s funny? Don’t believe me?
Go on, question your brother. Ask him. I dare
say your Pollio doesn’t find your antics
so amusing at all! And we know what a
great sport Pollio is. He can take a joke.
We know Pollio’d cough up a million just
cure your sinister penchant, fix or break you—
Come clean, cough it up. Give me back what’s mine.
Pronto. Fork over the linens you swiped, Lefty.
Come on, gimme the napkins, Veranius,
carried all the way from Spain for my table
by a friend who came to dinner here and left
empty-handed and this is why 300
mean lines packing a wallop are headed your way, O,
asshole dinner companion. Better act fast.
Send the napkins which Veranius, my true
friend, bestowed upon me back, that precious item
whose high-caliber fibers are well woven
close, tight into the fabric of my being.
Those linens you swiped did not come all the way
from Spain, Stickyfingers, so loser scum like
you could pinch them in between courses and
bites and pocket them the minute my head was turned.
Michele Somerville’s collection of poems, Black Irish, was published by Plain View Press (2009). Her book-length poem was also published by Ten Pell Books (2001). A reprint of this book is expected late this year. She won Honorable Mention in the May Sarton Contest, sponsored by Bauhan Publishing (2012). She won first place in the W.B. Yeats Society of New York Poetry Contest, which was judged by Billy Collins. In the Davoren Hanna Poetry Competition, sponsored by Eason Bookshops, she won Honorable Mention. Her poetry has been published in Hanging Loose, Mudfish, The Nervous Breakdown, Mad Hat, Puerto del Sol, 6ix, Downtown Brooklyn, Eureka Street, LiveMag, Brooklyn Review, Purchase Poetry Review, Big Time Review, and Quarto. she also writes essays and has been published in The New York Times and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. she teaches in New York City, and is an avid painter.
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