Wednesday, July 24, 1996

RED POPPIES


RED POPPIES
                   for Dave Hanson, painter

The cats lick red currant jam
from a Delft garden of breakfast plates,
bright poppies bleed beneath tulip tongues.

Seeking freedom of the street, silly creatures                 
lavish more lives off balconies—fallen angels
catapulting toward a dazzling span of birds.

Sentenced behind white walls, I am jailer & judge.
Imprisoned by the small accusations of rain,
they’re galloping nightmares in search of wings.

On a rumpled spine and ridge of rug, damp offering
underfoot—leaf litter dragged in by the tail—
I erode their landscape with a compulsion for order.

Alít retrieves crumpled paper, playing catch
and mouse with words I cannot return to, nor answer
her queries so carefully uttered in the tongue of cat.

Worn to a shadow scrutinizing closet corners,
Isis prowls the darkness for the lost pieces of Osiris,
meows at the door, knows the missing piece is in the street.

Alít curls, comma-hard, to sleep harder still
into the action of verb, as if shelter of rib and arm
held a consummate clause of breath and repose.

Clasping paws to head in a Gordian knot,
she’s a glottal stop at the end of a sentence,
purring a closed “O” to the sins of the street

Where fragile poppies bleed into canals reflecting
a veneration of church spires injecting
a venial anodyne well below waterline.

24 July 1996
Amsterdam
rev. 2/2001


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