The marquee unzips its serial smile
like an eager tongue along yellowed teeth.
A craving for roast peanuts hangs
in the street-wise air. Hear above
the humping traffic that voice – denial
or chummy alibi – savor the rise of relativity.
It is, after all, 4:17; it is
after all, Tuesday and cold,
and those bulbs cast such familiarity.
Queenie would have known it in a minute,
her country-sense dragging us past this quandary
in concrete, pale as a whore.
(Not a voice – the carney
grind of Liberty.)
But there’s no resisting light in winter,
and Queenie’s not around to change the subject.
I read of an Indian woman who believes electricity dries the soul, shrivels it up.
Abandoned by fate in Montreal, she alone to grieve her plane-crashed family
sits in darkness, tallies her sorrow in a bowl of lentils.
Since then, thirst makes more sense.
Opportunity is the new moon of lust,
never half as bright as we need.
So we stumble toward the arid glare,
as those who speak of failings know,
and if there’s nowhere better to land
than a crowded shower –
down the choking drain. Even the bulbs
trip themselves, reluctant to witness.
It’s safer to curse than to play with fire,
even as chiaroscuro
even as the flaming to ground.