the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




S. E. Black

Turn Inside Again

These are the days of solitude and falling leaves.
Crush all nomadic fearfulness. Settle down
into a cut glass crystal bowl: pressed leaf, wing and feather,
a picture of serene. The thorny gates breathe open,
hemming and hawing
through the cracks of a creaking door.
These are the days of Fall and Open
Sprung on the unsuspecting,
in garbled & frothy emotional appeal.
Faded tapestries hang rather than choke
their companion windows waving their
fringed hands as signals
that everything's fine.
We're fine, we're all fine,
everyone      is      ok.

The streets of powdered pleasure
leave snaky trails undulating
through the columns, reaching out to us.
They throw silk threads like lassos
that quickly tighten around our necks
and they speak in obscene whispers
in languages we've never heard.

In the meantime, nations still wait
persisting in their denials and fear,
unable to decipher the message.
Fingers flat —oblique musing aside—
we barely listen to their intended reflections.

We watch this like a play falling slowly
from a sparrow's mouth,
the furniture of mannequins,
each element placed carefully for the best effect.

The root of all instinct and turmoil
cannons into my heart
causes me to breathe more quickly,
carves my senses into a fine ice sculpture,
gleaming and melting.
The wilderness left behind
makes me softer, suppler, more willing.


Pink Flamingo

Late one night, I heard
a buzzing, a Fellini moment — 1964,
the sound, a low rumble at first,
then a fluttering of wings,
the sound of trapped birds
the sound of a thirties era tap dancer
shuffling in his self-made square of sand.

The background, a murmuring crowd
a vague wandering, a moving throng
going their own way, nothing to stop them,
nothing will stop them, nothing will stop them.

The breath mints hadn't worked
The homeless man didn't stop
The electric cords trailing behind him
didn't catch on anything tonight,
compliant as water snakes or grass snakes,
happy to slither along in his wake.

Still, the eyes in the darkness look for something
A hairbrush, an avocado, dental floss — the ordinary items
that appear on lists over and over again.
An elephant would remember this night, but I would forget.

I told them — all those sights and sounds — to be quiet. To shut up.
To be the background for someone else. I smelled the trees on the parkway,
I smelled the air flowing around me, the back seat of the taxi,
wondered if smells could speak,
would they tell this story, no matter how unlikely.

I shouldn't have to endure this skating rink,
with its circular arena and its shushing sound,
and the clink of steel and the laughter.
A baboon could use moisturizer and mouthwash for ten days
and still not change. That's the truth of it really.

A fine public library with ten thousand books on engineering could not put out my fire.
A psychologist juggling and a priest warbling various bird songs still makes me smile.
A professor and a lawyer make strange bedfellows but they still sleep together.
And a firefighter makes love to a dental assistant to get his teeth cleaned and to be fulfilled, a
paradoxical farce started by a group of elderly college students.
It was just an experiment, but an experiment that made sense to them all.

Experimental means pink flamingos can be the title of a poem not related to their species.
But Pink and Flamingo make a nice sound together. The sound of ing and ink could be
hummed or sung at the back of the throat and your ears can also hear a low buzzing.
The sound like this: ingo, pinko, ingo, pinko, flaming    ing.    Ing    ing.    Ing.



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