all their characters reflected in my face
© 2002 by PJ Nights

as the shuffle of cards
for a pinochle game
                                 the wind begins;

a faint hiss and whistle from the parlor
carrying the secrets of adults after-dark,

      from their beds, children strain to listen

*

I started talking to the man
from Mars because he invited it,
there in the café courtyard

he could have painted at home
on his kitchen table - with his cups
of gray dishwater and his battered tin

but he chose to do so among
the clove-cigarette smokers and iced-tea drinkers -
and the chess players

                    who also wished to be watched
even in their guarded muteness
over a bishop’s     sandpaper     slide,
     a soft hand-slap on the timer

*

the barometer plunges, frantic air
whips the dog into white-eyed parabolas
through skeleton underbrush

she’s staring at the knees of a giraffe -
it’s bigger than her,
                                what’s coming

electrons split the sky

*

it began as mere persiflage -
a French banter, a Latin hiss and whistle

                                  I looked over his shoulder
while the Mars-man boxed three separate spaces
with long vertical stripes and horizontal dashes
in the watercolours of a tulip garden

I found freedom in the stares of those
around us as he answered my questions
in the English he'd learned from satellite signals

his spaceship on the bottom
of Boston Harbor,
                              he couldn't go home

*

ploùra, ploùra, ploùra from the tree frogs
        it will rain, it will rain, it will rain

and it does - cats and dogs and frogs -
over an opaque sugar-cube sky,

this world is not the same as before,
aquarium light transfigures trees
and grasses
                    into cloudy-green absinthe

the green fairy of Rimbaud - “certain skies
sharpened my vision”


                  I can wait but others will run

*

though I'm a terrible liar, perhaps I could
convince myself - tell a tale so fantastic

            that nothing else I do ever surprises

secrets after-dark, after-death,
the children sing

                            the worms crawl in,
        the worms crawl out, the worms
        play pea-knuckle in your snout


*

you can cut them into postcards, he'd said,
handing me the sheet of Arches paper
with its trio of rectangular flower plots

              I could - and let loose a shout, full
                                      of what I might say

Slow Trains Fall '02


Yellow, Red, Blue by Wassily Kandinsky