You

The bio note tells us
you are a successful urban professional
in a cut-throat academic field.
But the poems give us vapors of other dreams.
We learn you are a male, middle-aged mermaid
who prefers the shadowy corners
of very private bedroom nooks,
wine and snow and Brando movies,
not bodies of women or men, and song.
You are shy with the pretty eyelashes
of a petting zoo deer. You are sugary married.
You are a father. You are tame.
You appear to drink a great deal,
or seem to want us to think you do
going by the poems. This could be
a cry for help, (should we worry
about you?) but No,
I think this is just who you are.
You are safe in your life.
Good.
If someone tosses a styrofoam cup
on the street without crushing it,
you will rhapsodize about it.
I like that you are a unicorn
of city nuances like that.
Tell us that the cup was dregs
of dire cough syrup. Make it new.
REDRUM.
But no. You are a mermaid.
Merman. Whatever.
Must a poem be politically correct
and thus inaccurate?

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Under Houses

Who knew such delicate things could spit such necromancy,
I mean a wedding dress in a basement. It breathed
through its plastic skin, coated with a layer
of dust and asbestos. Plaster it bore
dropped from stubborn beams, gypsum
from an old ceiling, shaken out
with the carefulness of grudgework
in a small town with straightjacket lives,
by all those muffled earthquakes, tinny years.
Heavy shoes walked over a headless ghost
whose waist or wait would never give an iota.
From an old heaven above, where they lived,
or rather its underside, erosion below their feet,
gerrymandering ceiling of cracks, it took
its look like history. Something old: a recoil
of a gun, dream-kicking the observer
back to an age that pretended gilding,
whose women would often hang
waiting their whole lives, as if the stars
moved them on tracks like figures
in a medieval clock.  Drugged.
The dress had weirdly hung its promise
of nearly royal treatment in whose
snailshell years beyond knowing:
did it come true? Something new:
a shuddering sense of someone
buried alive down there, breathing,
starving for life, waiting to emerge,
a boil under Alencon lace and seed pearls
still weirdly optimistic, young,
something like a paper doll
whose child died a century ago
wanting you, wanting anyone,
an invitation to undo, redo.
Its own dead body was no concern
to its ambition, its (              ) form.
Something borrowed: a ghost in you,
the observer underground,
dust-smocked Orpheus,
uphill, suddenly, just to breathe.
Something blue: a light switch
popped its tongue like a witch
as I reversed in a spell
out of the past
by walking backwards
up nobody’s rickety stairs,
out of the dark
and its hopes.

Her Husband, Who Lives in Bars

A spaniel runs through a field
of wildflowers, purple, white lace and goldenrod,
and it is nobody’s dog
and doesn’t even know it is Tuesday
or that it is now called “missing,”
though it intends to return
to the arms of the one it loves,
and plant a sloppy kiss
on an angry mouth,

the dog solution to everything.

Gorillas

A frustrated man in an unhappy marriage traded in his wife for a gorilla.

It was a male gorilla, but the man put it in a truly vavoom pink polka dot dress, put makeup on its face, and placed a smart, pink toque on its head. The he took the gorilla out, everywhere, just as he had been accustomed to do with his wife.

The man was able to take the lead when they walked together and even steer this “ship of two,” and the gorilla didn’t run away from him in the stores to look at clothing or jewelry or other shiny things such as would formerly happen with his wife.

The man was now able to speak first. He was able to speak as much as he wanted also. But he didn’t know how to speak first and the gorilla couldn’t speak, so they went everywhere together in total silence.

Other men in shopping malls would see the man and his gorilla walking together, the man’s right arm wrapped around the hairy, left arm of his companion in a somewhat forceful, proprietary manner, and use this example, this object lesson, to demean the wives or girlfriends walking beside them.

“She might not be much to look at,” they would say while staring directly into their partners’ faces with the searchlight of an unstated accusation, “but just look at how well he’s got her trained.”

And then the wives or girlfriends would look at the sarcastic, smug expressions on the faces of their husbands or boyfriends and immediately think about replacing them with gorillas.