Cupbearer

Oh saqi!  How I have imagined you, strewn with rose petals

in a pool of cool rosewater, lying on marble stone.

Like Prometheus, you are bound, but it is I that lies beside you

and no eagle devours our guts, for it is love that consumes us

her tempestuous fires blinding as a seraph’s touch.

The golden chains that bind us are thick as bone,

alive with marrow that whispers of tenderness

hollow, they have secrets that span the ages-

brim with words I’ll never know.

You are my aegis, my pillar, and when I

close my eyes, you’re still branded

on my lids like a watermark.

No matter what halls I walk, I cannot escape you.

Fun-house mirrors cannot lie, for even in their

mercury, you are never distorted, always true,

you carry me.

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The Devil’s Instrument

She ate the persimmon like it was her last night on Earth

rosebud lips delicately closing over the sweet orange flesh,

savoring every bite as if it was a lover’s neck she was kissing.

The poet watched from the courtyard, studying

how she curved like a violin, the sweet trill of her voice, wishing

to draw a rosined bow across her pink damask gown

and play her like the devil’s instrument.

That night, they Viennese waltzed

across shadowed halls, exchanged balustrade promises

under the light of a sickle moon.

She tasted like the fruit of his dreaming, ripe and heady

with the scent of mulberry wine in her hair.

They dined on lost wishes and wanderlust, and in the morning

he purchased a worn sailboat with a flag at half-staff,

mourning the single night of perfection he had known.

He sailed away with the sunrise, leaving his lover behind

She haunted him in fever visions and reflections in glass

as he navigated a river of milky stars, searching for

the bow that would make her sing, his devil’s violin.

The Tickertape Girl

Her hair is ever-tangled, tawny like a lion

and I can chart the constellations on her cheeks.

She stacks fruit on dusty shelves, humming a child tune,

her legs knob-kneed and slender as a doe’s.

I can picture them running, joints clicking

as she dances madly through the island meadow,

gazing up at summer stars under cicada songs.

She is young.  What a blessing!  How I wish

I could say the same-

Her life is a vase filled with jeweled marbles in water

hugging the flower of her youth close like a Maine rose,

feeding her with delicate dreams and wild beginnings.

The neap tide brushes her ankles like soft lace drenched in wine

and drunk off the morning she counts the footprints in sand

knowing mystics will walk her path, baffled

by the wisdom of a girl.

Her secrets are her own, the tickertape girl,

caught in seashells and schools of mackerel,

whispered to silver fish scales that chart the unknown.

She has walked the depths of the ocean and grown like the wind,

waltzed on the granite of Dead Man’s Cove, leaving trails

for sages to chart in the coming millenia.

And all I can say is this-

she is an island girl

born of sea spray and longing.

She flies as the cormorant does

and strikes like ocean storms.

Her secrets are her own.

Coastline

The waves touch the shore like a lover’s caress

Cormorants dance like seraphs washed ashore

Ocean bocce played as tide loved rocks

plop into the sea

In feeble words I try to capture the

microcosm of a tidal pool, mermaid-stranded

seaweed a veil over bridal rocks

Periwinkles shine like cherubim teeth,

flimsy bodies within dreaming of

a buoy’s gentle hymn

The jaws of the ocean are rimmed with barnacles

as a mussel clings to granite worn by millenia

Far beyond, the coastline shimmers with sails

A piece of golden hair flails into the foam

I dip my toes in the rocky waters, cut by edges

sharpened by Poseidon.  My blood joins the

ancients a thousand leagues under, and I

envision a maiden crafted of foam striding

like wind across the blue.  Green tufts crest

seagull nesting grounds, their cries a sure sign

that this is an island dream.  Blackberries stain

my lips, their bittersweet taste like a thorn’s prick.

Sea moss and red rust algae whisper of Maine lovers

The Washerwoman Rock lingers on the horizon,

a stone guardian wringing out her seaweed-woven clothes

The sinuous curve of sea plants mask

the current’s underlying fury

Gull Rock claims tribute, a human sacrifice

His body waltzes brokenly under the riptide,

boots washed ashore, jigging in Dead Man’s Cove

The island gives, the island takes

Nurturing in summer, formidable in the frozen cold,

the toilet ices over as lobstermen rise with the dawn

Their vessels ride waves with pilot whales,

seeking sea gold in the depths of Amphitrites bridal suites

Dirt stains my skin, the sun kisses me red, and my form

molds into an island terpsichore

I sing of hidden caves and volcanic origins,

of iron ship’s remains and odes to artist’s hands

Dragonflies flit around birch bark trees

Firs rustle in an ocean breeze, speaking of

Indian’s graves and Clovis arrowheads

buried in the loam

I sit in storybook shade and ponder

I will be buried here, on Lighthouse Hill, my soul

overlooking the island alongside my ancestors

Summer ends, and I depart with the swells of the sea

Flowers float to shore, and I will return

the coastline in my heart forevermore