I spent all day choking on the ghost mountains.
Finally night falls, such as it is,
like a spilled beer creeping over the sidewalk.
Above, scattered scraps of clouds orange and violet
Tie-dyed by the shine of urban cancer
Hide the higher heavens.
Here enters food and drink, lipstick and liquor.
The pre-show is over--what are the teams--
boys versus girls, cradles versus robbers,
love versus lust, lust versus manners?
No matter--the lights are up and itâ€™s time to play.
Keeping the day
on life support.
Itâ€™s been so long since we pulled the plug
So long since the last black nightâ€¦
We were there to gawk at the Perseids,
not the glitter in the velvet sky we found on exit 74.
Still, our silhouettes couldnâ€™t help but stand agape
against the unfamiliar stellar haze
more like flour than milk in the unsmogged prairie air.
It was everywhere--
--yet I couldnâ€™t recognize a single constellation.
Did they recognize me, those pinprick eyes
that saw me in the bushes peeing outside for the first time
(never mind the impatient family in the Chevy Tahoe
my pants streaked up my white thighs
blind in the headlights
cursed by my fellow skywatchers a few yards away)?
Even after the lightspots cleared,
the man, the queen, the ladle
were all lost in the crowd.
The clouds have drunk themselves to death in the still-radioactive sky.
The eveningâ€™s prospects have staggered by and off
and so do I
to a disappointed bed.
I cough in the chill of the traitor desert
that bakes girls into miniskirts
then sends them on their way.
No regrets worth the thought and yet
pride and perfection are hurling bar stools in my head.
I could have thrown myself at him a little harder,
My haggard dignity smells like failure.
One last techno thump.
One final catcall.
One hushed dewy step
And then another.
Steadfast Orion walks me home.
I posted an early version of this one before, but I changed it a lot:
DC Job Offer
The black leather got scuffed
Before they ever walked into church.
Tossed under the sofa after a long day
Beached by the door with
The footprinted flipflops
That I havenâ€™t worn for months, nowâ€¦
Once my legs were made of denim,
Once the callus between my toes was
an evolutionary adaptation
for when Darwin and I sprawled on the palm tree quad,
smoking and flipping through McLuhan and Mulvey.
How did I get caught up in this
Closed-toe, one-inch business?
The black leather needed polish
Before anyone got married or dead.
Resting in peace in four tiny closets
They moved with me, spotless, each August.
Like a trout with a Harley
Like a lesbian with a pregnancy test
Not unwelcome, exactly, butâ€¦
Now heels clacking on the dried-pee subway tile
Follow me every day
At first I gripped the handrail and giggled,
Trying to tell
Who were the interns,
pretending that form-fitting khakis and cargo pants
are office clothes
Who were the real policy wonks,
with wrinkled faces and professional-pressed suits
And who was like me,
wardrobes funded by graduation gifts.
When did this stop being a game of dress-up?
I want to
zip up a pair of jeans with holes in the knees
slip on three-year-old sneakers and mismatched socks
go down to the Greenbelt reststop,
take a piss
and laugh at the senators tappinâ€™ below the stall
because theyâ€™re bored
and theyâ€™re ruining their $500 Italian penny loafers
in the cold grimy puddles on the floor.