the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




David Francis

The Task

Three girls placing long-stemmed roses in a vase
placing and replacing them in a frenzy
in the clear vase of visible compressed leaves
until you can't tell if they're putting or pulling
they are so rapt in this dizzying pastime
which they were born for, their joy of arrangement
rendering them as one with the flowers they admire
tight-wrapped petals of pink and yellow


The Concierge

You're the concierge of my heart,
but you hide
when I come in late,
you suspect me of drunkenness
but it's my fate
to creep in at this hour
that you censure,
to sit in cafes
until I can no longer stand the place
and must face the music
which is the dirge
that drones from the room
where you sit and glower.
I never have been able to bear
the pressure of a charged atmosphere
nor the void
of an empty room
with its damning silence
and sunless shafts,
having shared one
for marriage-years.
And so I go out
among strangers.
You have the lock
and the entrustment of the entrance
and you abuse this petty goad of power
like all the weak.
I am an escapist.
An anti-Stoic.
Even all-night places
have their hour or so
when they sweep
and hose the sidewalk
out front,
then I return
in dread
of your power play.
I cannot not wake you.
Maybe one day
you will tell
me your dreams.
Then I can leave.
At least then
you will have moved
a little distance closer
to my domain.



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