You Deny It
deny the wet and naked in the brook,
deny the rock. You never feel my pulse waterfalling.
The veneer of algae, that’s what’s lethal.
On the picnic bench, all these other bodies, thighs
sticking, furry to slick. Why did you invite
everyone? You, at the other end, a barricade
of heads. I can’t even see you.
Mosquito bites—let’s lick each other’s blood,
up the inner arms to the soft hairs
behind the ears. One drop, that’s all I ask.
Lie with me, let me knead your skull with my thumbs,
cradle your waxy drift, whisper with the barn owl
teasing from the sycamore. This August night, this once
forget to fling away.
Collaboration by Nancy L Meyer, Stephanie Pressman
Thirteen Fullest Oranges
pooling at the foot of their tree.*
A bonanza for rats, fat and bristling in the grass. Thirteen
oranges, rind nubbled and thick. Let no thing penetrate
the burst of seed in each white pith
[why else exist?]
Rodents, defiant until
lean cats circle, arched and hissing. Circling them,
smear-faced, gaunt, the children elbow each other
Outside the leafy perimeter
thirteen pale Eves—fig leaves worn thin, barren fingers
knobbed and warted, nails bitten
only a few hairs left on sun-spotted arms
stiffer ones on sagging chins—
through bluing cataracts, they squint at the fallen globes. Already
the acrid scent snakes toward them.
The grass sets its claws; the soil sends its armies
rotting the membrane where it meets earth.
Hunger climbs down its bony ladder.
Streaked cheeks [theirs] [all of ours]. We salivate, dreaming…
Rubbled Buddhas along the Silk Road lie inert,
stoics rehearse their placid faces,
purses tucked beneath vestments grow heavier.
We turn away.
We want the oranges.
*Line from Jorie Graham, Hunger
Rainbow Logic: Arm in Arm with Remy Charlip
A Response to Seth Eisen’s Play, Day after Trump’s Election
Let it breathe us in from the black rain of the Tenderloin,
from the rain that pelts wanderers in frayed hoodies,
winds us all in sheets.
Let it be a bright lobby, golden wood, red and white sculpture.
Swirl my white bob into a tide pool of pink-striped hair, gold sandals, Doc Martens,
parkas, full arm tattoos.
Have Seth stand and call us: Listen/listen we chant in response.
Listen to the sound of listening/listen to the sound…
My shoulder presses the arm of the stranger
next to me. Our voices ripple across the bare floor,
open us to three actors entering:
Two men—one grey stubble, one toss-haired—
one woman, all changeable as cuttlefish.
No scaffolding, no stage hands. A chair,
table, shadow screen and trapeze.
Once upon a time, the men‘s eyes move. Where are the words?
They pin aerogrammes to clothesline, haul them up
from below, unfold, tissue-soft. The scorch and slap
of fathers, what hides in sons’ hearts—
flutter blue down generations.
Make them crouch in tight houses
caught by the camera, men projected large
on a screen. Strings pull, strings
tangle, drop and lift the men like puppets.
Wheel out the trapeze, pump wild thighs. Fade
to shadow. Still the men, let them hang
upside down. The woman holds her breath.
Now give us father/son dancing, bare-chests, orange and blue shorts:
wrap arms around, mirror one hand to another, lie
on the floor, cradle heads, men curled together
These few hours, let us come in from the rain.
Tiny Florets, Bees Hover
When you lie awake at three am, which I know you do
however silent your shoulders, after months
of sun and licking, cheeks sucked hollow. All your sugar
concentrates to the bare teaspoon you have left.
Yesterday you opened full to the hydrangea, its busty flowers
lavender and blue. Hummed John Philip Souza in the bathroom.
La-la-la we close our ears.
Tonight you sweat cold into our mattress waking me wet,
dreaming Lake Garda, us hand in hand, your eyes stop
only in mine—then peer through glass into mounds of wild
berry, red currant gelato—we toast, my sugar cone clicks yours.
Tonight, your foot cools, a small animal huddled against my arch.
What will I do when all I have left is the whiteness of sheets? In the half-dark
alien metal, knobs and tubes, your oxygen tank,
that green robot, stealing my kiss.
My garden’s runnelled by gophers and moles,
chomped by deer, mown down by rabbits.
Even the birds peck the grass to its nubs.
Yet I suck color like a hummingbird fueling—trumpet vine
to penstemon to the faded Rose of Sharon dangling
from its spikey green. Lean toward the white froth of
buffalo grass, soft as a shaving brush on my cheek.
Salmon oleander flounces, moss blushing green
under its hem. O spicy lavender, salvia
rocketing blue to the sky. How can I sit here
without bursting into song?
Beyond my hedge, red-tails soar, live oak careen
up the ridge, give way to toyon, madrone and redwood
before they all dip to the surge of the grey Pacific.
Let me munch wild sorrel, lie under the eye
of the hovering osprey, yip back at the yellow-
grey coyote. I shake the golden oats like castanets,
a dog, I roll in the wild mint. If only
I could pull this whole cloak up to my ears.
Marooned on the chaise, even lifting my pen
They Say You Are Made of Clouds*
How can the green sways of meadow swell and bend
without the sharp trim of your mowing machine?
If you don’t battle the snare, the thrust of blackberry vine
how can the apples and pears thrive? Who will mash
the drops into cider?
The locust and ash won’t be felled for firewood.
Sandy will stumble through knee-high snow.
What if the pond chokes up with duckweed,
the bears break into the beehives?
Brother Jim, your hand is on every square of earth,
every plank of the barn, the cinders in the drive
and pruned buds on the rhodies.
How could your body
be hollowed out in an eyelash of a day?
A gale whines around the chimneys
searching for you.
*Line from Nick Flynn, If This is Your Final Destination
Eyelash of a day stolen from Robin Coste Lewis, Mother Church No 3, “one day is an eyelash”
Nancy L. Meyer
Avid cyclist, grandmother of 5, End of Life Counselor, Nancy lives in Portola Valley, CA. Published in: Colorado Review, Tupelo Quarterly 3, Bitterzoet, Poet’s Touchstone, Wordland, Kneel Downe’s Stolen Indie, Persimmon Tree, HIV Project Then and Now, Kind of a Hurricane Press Tranquility Anthology and Pyrokinection, The Centrifugal Eye Tenth Anniversary Edition. Forthcoming Tupelo Press 30/30 Anthology and Songs for a Passbook Torch: Anthology on Nelson Mandela. Finalist, New Orleans Poetry Festival 2016.