the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2008



Keith Melton

Night Café
for Steve Grilli

Not set for life, we hear of Sunbelt millionaires
Making that deal
Before describing the sex lives of our youth—
In tropical heat, midnight
Find the rain, smell the lift of asphalt making money
Jigger glass a lip of whiskey.

Hold the burn to my tongue
Imagine the taste of women down under
Where hills are white sheets
Peek-a-booing Heaven; wrap-around a Texas sized girl
Try to remember her name
Her smile in a crowded place, like a rainbow.

So hold me she says, tighter she whispers
Summertime, playing on the juke box like an anthem.
Neon in a shot glass, sequins and mascara
Tearing a page from my heart,
Nighttime lovers searching
For a clue to the composition of this daze.

Wanting a fragile truth to be more than this
All night, 2 for 1, thinking
How was the world partitioned that we should end up here
A side of amnesia in mirror glass
Before a pocketful of déjà vu; heartbeats
In our hands, then the long ride, home.



Morning's ascent like a top worn
Against a tourniquet of the sun,
The strenuous night an ebony sky
Objecting to first light; a bloom of angels

Brewing the steady simmer of time's dance.
Like elegies confessing
The crux of the lip's earned twirl
Toward sup, a roast to toast a second cup, a third—

The globe suckled like a swollen breast,
Like mother's milk
Sweetened first in lust, to snarl
At the demons in morning's ever lingering protocol.



Evidence of daylight, the windows
Lift this mortised heaven
To a new blood's bolt, the sinecure of
A moment's pleasure, frailty

In a sack of bones menacing the hour
Of dawn, a fullness of girth
The hands of time fondling
Coy rounds of sweet rapture like two waifs

With a set of hot dice. Mention of love
In the pittance of moment
Before the rot of a harried world;
The middle kingdom of a suckled breast

Lips pressing a stumble to the haunt, conception
In a loosening of hearts
This pressing to progeny, backwards
To the edge of propriety.

A stumbled thereafter, quicksilver numb
Leaving its glassy bark
Like silica boasting of civility
This bond in eyes of shadow.



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