#162-1 Theme: Partnered Poets
And now, consider the combustible quality in the poems Diane Fleming
and Larry Thoren have woven together:
Romance by Larry Thoren
by Diane Fleming
fourth cup of coffee
just sat there and stared into it,
sat there and sipped it
drags on my cigarette.
nodded yes when
waitress suddenly appeared
kind of woman who waits tables
the graveyard understands
men with blank faces.
didn’t want to come out of my fog
invite him to lunch. I think we hate each other. I've never met him.
to my personal ad and he is married. I'm not sure how we can have
relationship, but he tells me this can work-with the right attitude.
meet at a Mexican restaurant. His skin is pockmarked; he looks sad.
many things we disagree about. One is -- his relationship to his
he cannot divorce her because she’s not a bad person. I guess only
people get divorces.
was pushing 40, I figured
like me -
of miles on her
lots of them hard ones.
was still a pretty girl.
wondered how many knights in shining armor
carried her off into the sunset,
to dump her.
up and disillusioned once again,
another coffee shop,
another graveyard shift.
looked up from her stack of napkins
our eyes met
a self-conscious glance,
we both looked away quick.
again, our eyes met
held this time.
was impossible to look away.
says, “My wife and I, we never have sex. I go to prostitutes.”
I think I am Jesus. I act as though I am Jesus. I listen to the
outrageous stories with compassion, without judgment. Why do I do
not trying to be this way. Where other people see TROUBLE, I see
he tells me about his sexual fantasies. It isn't as though he
about me, not the real me. If he put the real me in his sex
those stories would be full of everyday heartache. I say, "Why
you just tell your wife that you're not happy, that you need more
looks at me, astonished. How can I be so stupid? You don't just tell
these things. You leak details slowly, in subtle painless pointless
began to groan inside
I wanted to look away.
was all the lies
been told by women
didn’t know any better.
like me, they did the best they could.
that didn’t change the fact
they’d promised me their hearts
I knew she was seeing the same in me.
saw the carpenters,
visions of grandeur
the same damned things
wouldn’t give, couldn’t give
because they didn’t want to,
because they didn’t know how.
could hear all the times she’d said
a good man.
treats me like a queen.
what he bought me the other day.
time it’s different.
one’s different than the rest.”
talk about HOMO SEX U ALITY-the big subject we discuss to avoid
why we are here in the same room. Why isn't he with his wife,
with his secrets of prostitutes and dreams of divorce? Why am I here?
do I go down dead-end roads again and again, sometimes even building
and cities on those roads, establishing myself on a path that leads
But here we are, talking about HOMO SEX U ALITY.
says, "It's unnatural. You don't see it in nature-in other
say, "Well there are a lot of things you don't see in nature.
How often do
get married? Do animals kiss? Do they send each other love letters?
a male dog beat and batter his bitch until she brings him his bone,
big juicy bone that he loves, whenever he barks?"
I don't want to talk about his wife or gay people. I want to talk
That's what hangs here.
sat there feeling like shit
I wanted to go over there
right kind of lies
so I could
inside her britches with her
the price of not sleeping alone
too heavy these days
I could tell she knew that too.
stare had started
contempt and quiet rage
went into a kind of desperate pleading.
I say, "I'm lonely. My life is a long train ride of events
downtown. I'm either running away from something to save my life or
toward something in a desperate needy fever. I'm tired of it. I want
get off the train and sit quietly, with someone or not, and watch the
joints were stiff from
crawled from the booth
left a dollar on the table.
the cash register,
gave me my change.
said, “Thank you.
back and see us.”
the parking lot,
was getting close.
stood for a minute thinking how
never look a graveyard
in the eye again.
whispers, "I think this was a bad idea." I know this was a
bad idea. He
got into my truck
headed north toward Waco.
heard there was a big job
out of the ground up there
they were needing hands
they were paying scale.
know why he left. Who wants to know how lonely they really are? Who
spend their time knowing this?
Next partners: Wendy Woodruff and Thom the World Poet
shining, full-bodied moon
reach out to touch, hold you in my arms
spirit too great for me to surround
Do Men Want?
want to reach into your very skin
out all those red roses of dull pain
magic with you that will free you again
ever desiring your own demise -
the silence between us
us start conversation
up all possible solutions
in the shower
birdswing of our life
Thom the World Poet
Brandon by David Meischen
all cheekbones and playful
jeans slung 'round hips
strut the stuff she's stuffed
her shorts. She's Brandon now: He
Brandon, so carelessly
home inside these clothes,
tender banter, this boy's life
girls believe him
his husky sweetness--
want to sip it slow
bourbon, reaching for his belt
unbuckle beneath a brazen moon.
by Scott Wiggerman
chart to this heart.
heart is dangerous,
of a thing,
heart is hidden,
a safety box.
heart is demanding,
art to this heart
Sexy at Seventy by Sonya Feher
there is nothing. Today there is nothing
want and I wonder what I'll look like at 70.
I be one of those women, bones
for the breath? Will I
out like a worn balloon, in orange
allowing lumps where
should be smooth?
I keep my figure or improve my skin
of an atomic suntan like the leather lady
my dad's apartment complex, a blue string
and bright Hawaiian print towel, below
bony body, slathered in iodine and baby oil,
like a turkey for Thanksgiving.
the oven's opened with a metal
to better cook her face, those special
eye covers to protect her cataracts,
toes with coral nail polish, lipstick
than her towel, everything
for a night at Bingo or the VA,
you get the idea.
be one of those old women who wears
too short, top that is tight, still firm-breasted,
making people think I am sexual, wanting
have sex, wanting, making men, the older ones
me, my mauve lipstick to stain starched
reminding my sons I am sexy at seventy.
no one speaks of this, much more
to outline the body of an old woman -
longer fertile so no longer female? -
a fifteen-year-old, like the girls I watch now
my high school classroom in shirts, cut to
a belly button, a rib; shirts exchanged for
dresses she's growing into,
same ones her daughter will wear at fifteen.
it's okay to have sex when we're too young
know how. We spend the bulk of our lives
beds into jungle gyms trying to learn
But by the time our skin is textured
experience and we have no choice
to undress for each other slowly,
the time we know how to be sexy,
not allowed -- the sex of teenagers
to accept than the desire of the old to keep.
Sonya S. Feher
at Seventy" was previously published in The Temple, Volume 3,
by Mike Henry
know it is his voice on the phone before I pick it up, "Hello,
Michael," he says.
hold the phone a little away from my face,
I don't know what it is,
I have never seen one before,
I don't know what to say to the gaping silence.
don't want to ask him how he's doing or what's new,
I know nothing is.
I ask him if he knows any good jokes,
a wonderful life," he croaks in his telltale earthquake growl
we laugh together about how that's a good one. Funny every time.
has cancer. His blood sours around the tumors,
knuckles burying into pristine meat of muscle, slobbering
grawing away from the inside, tearing meat from
bone leaving spare scraps clinging bravely like Texas
burned carbon black when paper
soak with blood and the sun adds insult.
remember when I started reading poetry in Austin
I walked into Chicago House
and arrogant, sweating vinegar and spitting bullshit,
I didn't need those old guys and what do they got to say to me?
words wound like smoke around my spine, drew my breath in quick,
me and built me back.
was the first lesson you taught me, brother.
tempting now to fall caterwauling
lift my angry eyes and shout at the deaf sun,
spinal meningitis that crumpled him,
his back into a question and
the years shuffle by to a dirge of slow consumption,
doctors said we'll give you chemotherapy
it'll either kill the cancer, or you?
trade pain for addiction, swap suffering
martial arts and hallucinogens,
sailing out of acid eyes to wrestle and rut,
crystal meth yanks taut Christmas morning marionette strings?
terrible suffering shared by two? Teresa talks to the doctors and
prescribe medicines that collide in her brain,
reality like saplings in a storm and paint her wrists
stream of poppies spilling onto the bathroom tile
Pasha to find her there,
I guess not.
don't play my guitar anymore...
don't write anymore, Michael."
loss is a fist that reaches rudely into my chest
I am selfish, I am sad
your words might not sweep thunderstorms
my thirsty ears anymore.
tells me of the peyote ritual with a medicine man.
there for healing, but to make peace with
failing voice chokes out visions of badgers bristling,
teeth, how it seemed... familiar.
says he is not afraid of dying,
is afraid of dying poorly,
dying well. He doesn't
how much time he has left anymore
he doesn't want to know.
only hears about a new plague of
tumors up his spine,
how words like cure and recovery ran
cowards from the doctors' vocabularies long ago.
me? I sit with the phone receiver
a monotone goodbye, my promise
do better by my friend
showed me that there are things
you can write poems about, and things
you have to write poems about.