Still Life

I.

On my stroll home’s

when I found you here.

I’ve only seen the like in Eden Dreams

of Mother Eve—frozen

in a moment; hushed together,

the canary-yellow leaves drooping

like eye lids. I’ll wager tis a seasonal sedative.

Ms. Alice, I presume. I am in wonder—

or am I in Switzer—? Well—what ever

Land this is, I am happy to wander

here. Here

how can there be

a mountain so still—so tranquil,

where not even a willow whispers?

It seems the whole world’s

caught between breaths, before

the approaching Fall

settles in her autumn doormat. What providence

to stumble across this cobble stone path,

leading me to you reclined on thy side.

II.

M’lady, what color are your eyes?

Are they the shade of your fig-green

apron?  Bent limbs uncovered

to a serpent’s Chesher smiles

and Jupiter’s bloodshot hurricane eye.

How can he and Venus tumble across the sky

in courting scuffles, leave you here— without a thought;

like when we breathe one moment,

then in the next—forgot?

From this angle your hip’s soft summit,

slumping snowy shoulder, and pillowed crown.

Sunbeam hair waterfalls over

your folded arms, as if in prayer.

to that rugged, rocky mountain temple

behind you. Both you and that, permanent

sanctuary garlanded in green and topped snowy white.

III.

Left alone, under this apple-tree

still life, it appears movement is forbidden—

motion rooted, or paused. Knowledge,

that one day we all close our eyes for good.

Or do you choose to close your eyes to evil

Winter’s chill approaching? M’lady I’ll let you rest in peace.

Forgive me, I must continue on, before

the spell is broken. When you awake

please accept this still life, in words,

of you. Napping here, one Autumn

afternoon, beneath the motionless

limbs of stock-still leaves.

Yours truly,

Breathless.

Uninvited Guests

 

He reached up and ripped rainclouds from His sky
and wrapped thin layers of cumulonimbus cloth
around his knuckles. Laced with barbwire lightning bolts
as golden as his blond hair,

he punched though my glassy pane
while I was sitting down for supper. Breaking
and entering during evensong

I met my first Guest.
Uninvited, he strode in tall and north-cold.
His bearing at the other end of my table for two
seemed to say, Wherever I sit is the head of the table.
Expecting his tribute, I as host offered bread
which he salted by cracking his sea-stiff beard.

Now that’s what I call true Baltic Sea

salt of the earth that never loses its savor.
Belching his approval, he unwrapped
each layer of the cloud cloth—slowly,
letting the ends raise up in the air like incense

‘til, all released, each dark strand floated up to the ceiling
where the clouds expanded over the entire hall—

but I didn’t blink, or cry
because Sunday’s dinner menu was salmon
and I could hear their hushed hosanna shouts
From the kitchen already: Hosanna rain, hosanna!
So loud so loud—I was done waiting for my honored
guest…I clapped for our appetizer,

and out came a second uninvited Guest.

She came from the east parlor carrying eight plates on eight hands.
She kept Her two eyes on the Norse-Guest and her third red eye on me
until she stared Him right out of his chair and took her seat across the table from me.

Her obsidian hair imprisoned every flame
from the hearth, the gaslights
and table candles—never reflecting light.

Instead, she took that captured light and projected it
through Her bright dinner gown ; untouchable-gems from the red clay,
Bengal tiger stripes, angel fish azure, and Ganges river dolphins
whom she had never met but had still stolen from.

Turning all three eyes at me, smiling,
the way it is said Death smiles upon all men,
I saw myself reflected in each of Her mirror teeth.
Every second new scratches appeared etched
into my face, like a splitting totem pole—reflected on each glossy tooth.

Invited relief came with a knock on my red
oak door. I originally mistook this pounding
for thunder from the peculiar clouds
over my head, until I was led beat
by beat to the front door, eager to break
the grinning gaze of Death.

My honored Guest arrived.

The gaslights revealed a man
in a deep red–wine-red coat;
so red rich it was practically
dripping.

Calling me by name and smiling
with his vinegar lips, I could feel
the preemptive scarring on His palms.
Returning to the dining hall we sat for our last supper together.
The two other Guests glanced over at the seat they once occupied,

picking their teeth with butter knives. Every time my honored Guest cut a roll in half
five more appeared before he had time to even buttered one side.
My eight-handed guest couldn’t even keep up with the rolls that
Rumbled from the basket like water bursting from a rock.
My honored Guest apologized for the mess, bending down
To pick them up one by one, and even shined my shoes while under the table.

My heart screamed, Encore! and I called for a toast, for my
Honored guest and His humble show. I raised my goblet
and took a sip of my wine as the Norse-Guest tugged
His beard and said, I’ve heard he’s got a better parlor trick.

With that He nodded to the Ganges-Guest who used two hands to
Stoke my honored guest’s Galilean beard and kiss him on the cheek
While Her six spare hands stabbed His side with butter knives.

Water and wine spilled on my rug through his ribs as He went to the floor quiet
and staring—staring into Her three eyes.
I applauded. Table manners after all, what would the other guests think?
I clapped for three hours ‘til His blood seeped into my socks and my uninvited
Guests ate the last supper roll and left through the broken pane.

Then I stopped clapping, but my heart still echoed, Encore.