Poetry

Two Poems

San Pedro Sula

Gangsters roam the last night on earth,
falling as it does, where she is, too,
no phone, like the old days when I dropped
into a hole and no one knew. What else
but love under a sky heavy enough to crush, and me
on rusted bedsprings with beer and soccer on TV.
I wonder if she’s warm, if the frozen lake
will hold, if wind snaps the sparks
of her fire toward the stars. Here mountains
turn to ghosts that mumble in the hall,
and I leave salt sheets to walk past tangled squatters,
sea-sighs of invisible women, a happy bowman
hunting sparse boulevards for the blink
of distant light. Nothing says good morning
like gunshots at dawn, and she, her feet in snow,
steps past pine and hemlock toward a cold car
she hopes will start. Snowflakes
sparkle on pastel, and skin burns to believe air
is water, the cracked sidewalk
a coral reef. Beauty swims mute with ugly, and I,
big with both, feel the roll of their affection
make new words for old things to say.

Paris Imagined

I could go where they have those paintings
I’ve seen in books, or to that park built for the princess
for love, or come back at another time
and see the jacaranda trees in bloom—
is that here?—or the cherries
that festival when people get drunk
put on strange clothes and dance wild
in parades, or have a drink where Baudelaire did—
or was it a painter who stumbled
out this very door and pissed in the alley?

His paintings are worth millions now
but then he slept in the street. Youth
where did ours go? Was it here they piled the heads
after they cut them off? Or was it down that street
that ends in sky—that rue, where all the places are
we used to know or heard about and didn’t go?
I read somewhere we are rich for things
we don’t have to do, the places
we don’t have to go. I drank tea at James Joyce’s

Starbucks and walked in a blizzard
along the Seine, threw snowballs at ducks
while a gypsy tried to give me a brass
ring he pretended to find
for gold—Your lucky day, he said.
Yes, mine. On this river heroes,
saints and fools, the promise of circus
and the dark encroachment of catastrophe
float by behind blowing snow
like a grove of giant cedars on Lolo Creek
another place I’ve never been
but sometimes think I’d like to go.