A humid night with some light
making it through the thick magnolias from the street lamp
to where we are, the second floor,
where he could be coming.
His hair strangles blue from the wind.
He calls the commandeered pale car a broken horse.
He acts as if we were the last thing on his mind.
He passes below, and the power lines between
are not like bars. They are guides
which he has held to feel his way for a thousand miles.
Here, the whole street,
its dirty burdens and empty spaces
are blue in the light of his exhaust.
The smell is sweet, magnolia,
the last of them in bloom,
signaling the year’s decline.
He is tired, but he is coming.
He hung me from a rusty nail
by my favorite shirt when I was eight.
He ate a monkey in a jungle in Panama.
He tried to save a life at a pawn shop robbery.
After that he always had blood on his white shoes.
He slapped me silly outside a stadium,
taunting me to a gray rage.
He lost his infant boy to crib death.
He stumbled through my parents' house, lifting his voice
like a creaking piece of mangled iron.
He went away. Away is the same distance back.
I hear a dryer come to a stop.
The wind of tires on the streets
every now and then. Women's voices and their laughter
a peculiar language all its own.
The end of it, its own revealing grief.
A drum. My breathing. Your turning in the sheets.
A clarinet? Notes so far I can't be sure.
It is late here below the iron feet of summer.
The Comedy in Justice
If comedy chases, justice can escape absurdity.
Like a honeybee harassing a thief of flowers
who evades the bee by entering his beloved’s house.
This thief leaves the stolen flowers on the counter
and sits down at the table, growing philosophical.
The flowers languish while he tries to get his head
around surrealism without giving psychology
the upper hand like so many failures before.
When his lover arrives, she arranges in a vase
the flowers, and they are quick to spring
back to life. He struggles to admit it to her,
but he does: I love you, you know, but more than that
I respect you because justice is supreme among virtues.
You can’t deny that in this modern world of science
a star’s light’s wavelength and distance trumps
the romantic myth of power it held as a buckle
of some heroic torso punished in the heavens forever.
Heavens forever! she says, mocking him.
Before he can begin further explanation she kisses him
objectively on the mouth. He feels like a simile,
like an oyster suddenly shucked and opening to beauty.
In the bedroom, when she is done with him
she laughs at him. Bee and light dance on the window.
Her laughter is like honey. He laughs with her in bed.