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David Spicer
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Amnesia

 

by David Spicer

 

 

This aquiline nose made me the perfect womanizer:

a billboard glamour rat, I lived to malign beauties

with handcuffs and blackmail them

at the local new wave health spa.

My favorite was the tuna queen,

who combed pubic curls with an airbrush.

I never possessed remorse for bloodbath sins,

kept agendas to shroud vendetta wishes,

I scratched my arm-stump and played Mozart

in the electric blue roadster I received

for a box of bombs years ago. The frost

numbs it further these days as I shudder

through luncheon after noble luncheon,

but babes keep reviving my gutter factor.

Make no mistake: I don’t live in this monk’s

cell by choice, my life is already cluttered.

I’m no eunuch, I spoil for a mate

who’ll elevate me to the status of cardinal,

forgive shy faults, applaud me in a gallery

of movie greats. When I begin to lecture

I’ll smoke dope in a pipe on a catfish farm,

and the etching of a stranger who is me

that peers above the mantle will survey the kingdom

and forget the aquiline nose and august betrayals.

 

 

Statement

 

by David Spicer

 

 

Punks with hundred dollar bills aren’t unique.

Anyone can be a parvenu. Me, I’m fickle

as an ad agent, so wealth attracts my big tip

sensibilities. I’ve prospered like a banker,

watched the hawk and heron nag each other

with byzantine anger in my Jaguar sedan.

Just call me the Pied Piper of the South Bronx.

Shit, I’d exploit an AIDS victim. Slam dunkers,

heavyweight chumps, choreographers, infatuated

with my feather boa wrongdoings—serve them all.

Just attend to the battery at my gas station hangout.

My protégé will feed you enough paranoia

to crumble your spine. And introduce you

to our terrier, Garbage Can. They both have

eternal stiff dicks and sallow complexions.

Pop balloons with a scowl on their faces.

So don’t offer me a white-collar scholarship,

and cram that mousse between your snobby binoculars.

I deserve your enmity, not promises of redemption.

I’ve produced more widows than gunshot whiplash.

I can’t sink any lower, but I don’t want your minister.

Just stick the needle in.

I’ve got an elephant’s skin.


 

 

HIROSHIMA IN THE MONA LISA

 

by David Spicer

 

 

The ponytailed waitress Hiroshima

with copper hair and a slow burn frown

offered me, the black sheep of a Brahmin

firebomb of a family, asylum on the red

marbled floor of the Mona Lisa.

My rumpled Armani suit the smallpox

of  libertines who dined near Pissarro

landscapes under lemon yellow ceilings.

She slipped into badlands of my soul,

a rookie in love, I kissed her on the elbow,

ordered dessert another napkin, and she gave

me uranium. What am I, a lab rat?

Deaf for a moment, I drank sparkling water

and ate blueberry cake, rolled dice in a barrel.

Fog crept in with the flood before snow

fell on the tavern next door. My mojo

forgave me its burden: a lollipop leopard

with jawless cheeks, I needed a slingshot. I yelled

in the restaurant and whistled hello to Hiroshima

for a Band-Aid to cover my crocheted mouth.




TSUNAMI BLOOM

 

by David Spicer

 

 

The French femme fatale never betrayed me,

her bald hairdresser. A serial heartbreaker

with woozy Bardot eyes, she banished men

and caused more than one suicide with

a fountain pen to the neck of a metal guitarist

and that broken glass of burgundy sliced across

a foppish bishop’s flesh. To last weeks

with the tsunami bloom of swimsuit rants

made one bulletproof to her biblical prophecies.

I met that golden hair under aspens during

a counterfeit eclipse, when the tide over

banks rushed through my cove of hornets,

truffles, and Yiddish fear. She

went by FF, and declared her name

the password to the soul. Nobody saw

those memoirs except one hero, eating

prawns and rice with blackberries,

who died of the plague in flights of fancy.

She claimed to be a virgin in awe of men,

a martyr to mistakes. The passion

for an absent partner filled notebooks, and

photographs of fools she played jazz to

filled three mailbags. You’re a rumor

in that raspy voice, she said to me.

I don’t love you, we were never lovers,

here’s a razor blade, I’m bored.

I thrived, slept in a ditch and found

peace with her abstract beauty

under the sad moon and starless night.


 

 

Sweet Sixteen in Rapid City

 

by David Spicer

 

 

That year I blossomed with the sneer

of a hawk in paradise. Shipped to

my grandparents’ and their trailer

after I pulled the donkey’s tail, I escaped

bluffs and the patriot buffoon.

No more beat downs with

surfboards for this teenage rogue,

no more boot camp threats

or coffee shops with my guitarist

girlfriend Bogie. I hitched the last

fugitive bus to Rapid, debuted crime

sprees with a shotgun crotch. Mama Bogie

bingoed in later with a tequila bottle

and a grin bigger than a tennis ball. We

squatted in a Buddhist gangster’s mansion

next to a roadhouse, his entourage ours,

played tag in the lumberyard

and notched our ears with knives.

Drove golf carts and forklifts downtown

to rumba music and rode a maniac bison

in our underwear to check the mailbox.

Ignored vendettas from muggers,

dodged detectives with a million ploys.

Slim Bogie and I loved cowboy hats,

not about to wear socks and strait jackets.

So we closed the drapes, swooned

to applause, and blew the place.

 

 

THE FIGHT FOR MATILDA

 

by David Spicer

                            

 

 

A grand hijinxer, the president of Krappa Tougha Alpha, created mischief like a painter flinging paint at a canvas. This year his fraternity fell short of pledges. Original in a crazy way, he decided he and his macho brothers would inform Tim Smith and Robert Hall, the two skinniest milksops on campus, that they could join Krappa Tougha Alpha. What’s the catch? Tim Smith asked. First, call me sir, maggot. The maggot did. The president said, You two sissy boys just have to fight each other.

 

 Bullshit, Robert Hall said. It’s bullshit, SIR, the president corrected. In a few seconds, Smith and Hall circled in a mudpit behind the frat house. Smith socked Hall in the mouth before Hall grabbed Smith with a headlock, then turned round and round with Smith in his grip. Smith punched Hall in the kidney and Hall fell. Smith kicked Hall in his ribs and chest and continued to the cheers of the drunk frat brothers and their mascot, a beautiful midget named Matilda. Hall rallied, bounced up, threw mud in the other milksop’s face, and landed a left, then a right, then a left before he kicked Smith in the ass. Smith fell face down into the mud where he stayed, to the applause of the president, the drunk brothers, and Matilda.

 

Good show, Hall. Guess what happens tomorrow. What, Sir? Hall asked. You get to fight Matilda and if you win, you can fuck her!

 

Everybody cheered.

 

 

Blowhards in The Aubade

 

by David Spicer

                            

 

 

After the art opening, six of us hiked to The Aubade, an artsy-fartsy classical bar, and sat at a mahogany moon of a table. Ralph, a boxer with alfalfa hair who picked fights with Marines fresh out of boot camp, and Mark, a classic sandbagging black belt with kicks, blocks, and a Hitler mustache, were the alpha males. They had never met, but the rest of us knew them.

 

Wren, a coy tease who flirted with fluffy hair, fluttering eyelashes, and a baby-girl voice, kidded both small men about drinking cognacs and beers in a classical bar and called the drinks “fruity boilermakers.” We chuckled, except Ralph and Mark.

 

We drank and laughed until the crowd thinned and we remained. Wren joked with us, and Mark and Ralph locked eyes when she asked them, So, Mark, Ralph, what do y’all think of the Zen of Sartre versus the Shinto of Camus? We laughed so loud that the ghosts of departed customers shuddered. Not Mark and Ralph.

I don’t care about that crap, Ralph answered. All I know is your buddy here is gonna be a horizontal Nazi punk when I get through with him.

 

I know you’re a boxer, Mark replied. That doesn’t matter. I’ll knock your asshole so hard between your eyeballs you’ll be shittin’ teeth for weeks.

 

Yeah, Wren cheered. That’s what we’re talkin’ about!

 

Fight! Fight! Fight! we chanted.

 

The two men danced with their insults for a few minutes until the bartender interjected, OK folks, time to hit the road.

 

We staggered to my old white Chevy wagon. Mark and Ralph collapsed into the back. We drove home silently, until Wren gazed back at the two passed-out blowhards and wisecracked, I think they’re in love.

 

The rest of us laughed until we cried, shaking our wobbly heads at the alpha female.

 

 

 

 

RONNIE

 

by David Spicer

 

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll had to happen

he mumbled, stoned on the couch.

Intense and obnoxious,

jabbering with raucous laughter,

he told us to roll another one.

He’d toured with Black Oak,

ZZ, the Allmans. It’s a beautiful night,

he proclaimed, taking a toke of a thin joint,

bogarting, oblivious.

What I would do to do Seconal,

even Paregoric or Dramamine,

he lamented. He yelled about

installing cable television.

He whispered love to divorcees.

You can count your friends

on one finger, he said, and I listened.

He’d rammed a cop car, he bragged,

and I believed him.

It rained outside, darker than black,

and the organ on the radio

reverberated in our smoky lungs.

Alive behind a mustache and cowboy boots,

he chattered insane, bullshit love:

Hanging in there is cool and

I got two kids I can’t have.

He snorted a rail

with a fifty-dollar bill,

petted a .45 behind his belt.

I’m a criminal, a fuckup, an outlaw,

but I’m blessed as the sun’s birth.

If you’d have written this three years

ago, I’d have shot you, but fuck,

I’ve done drugs with the biggies.

I’m Neal Cassady Junior the Third,

5'10", 130 pounds, 35 in two weeks,

a literary treasure, and about as bad

as the Roadrunner.

We nodded to rock all night,

asked each other about our Rock Heaven.

His cowboy shirt glistened under

a hundred-dollar diamond earring,

he smiled drunk, stoned, and vain

at the moonlight: a sweaty beer

bottle raised to the universe.




THE BEACH

 

by David Spicer

 

 

Jack was a friend for a year

when he told me at a party

he drove to Florida with a divorcee,

lounged in a lawn chair on the beach

and studied the swordfish and her.

They walked the shore for miles

until their eyes tired of the air.

They rested near rocks that blocked

the view of the lighthouse.

They slept the evening,

dreamed the same dream

and discussed it at midnight.

They made love and a wish beneath the stars.

Before dawn the teacher woke,

left his partner asleep,

with waves washing her painted toes

like tiny dishes. Her chest heaved

in and out, in time with the water

slapping the sand and the horizon.

Jack roamed for hours,

hands in pockets.

He reflected about Cuban students

and their souped-up trucks;

he thought of a failed marriage with arguments

borrowed from centuries of fighters in love.

Shaking his head, he listened to the sun rise

above the sea, and jogged back

to the sleeper he hardly knew.

 

With thirty knife wounds in her torso,

the nude body glared at the morning.

Jack saw tulips of blood on the flesh,

his mouth dropped a scream.

He ran to the police and repeated his story

a dozen times, the same way every time.

They softly said,

Now tell us what really happened.

They drove him to the county jail,

where he lived for a month

with wife beaters, child killers, butt fuckers.

They didn’t bother this man

bigger than their fantasies,

just watched his smiles and silence.

They told each other horrors:

how a man cut out his wife’s heart

with a broken whiskey bottle and ate it;

how a gang burned a church of children

and laughed until the flames died;

how brothers raped their sisters

and strangled them with barbed wire.

After the grand jury indicted him,

he waited for the writ.

Then the prosecutor dropped the charges.

Jack landed a job where I worked,

And proved his friendship by listening

without complaint to my groans.

I didn’t know about the charge

except from newspaper accounts about a teacher

who committed a Florida murder.

He was guilty of wandering

on the wrong end of the beach.


 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

by David Spicer

 

          New Year’s Eve was in full swing at Ars Nova, a salon for artists and writers, owned by a kindly woman in her 70s named Kate Reynolds, who opened it because she felt the city needed such a refuge.

 

At eleven, the back door flung open to announce the arrival of Delia, who was with Bad Olaf, a giant, balding Swede. A boy of about nine stood with him.

 

The trio stomped into the room’s center, now absent of music and laughter.

 

OK, Tommy, who’s the bitch that grabbed you by the arm when you were in here?

 

The little boy pointed at Kate, who seemed dumbstruck.

 

What? she asked, what are—Delia slugged her in the face with a roundhouse blow, resulting in a knockdown. Before she could kick Kate’s ribs, Bad Olaf pulled her away.

 

I jumped in and yelled at Delia, Get out of here, you psychopath, before I call the cops. Delia smirked and Olaf grabbed Tommy into his huge arms to carry him down the stairs.

 

          Kate, sporting a bruised lip, was on her feet and announced, Come on, folks, let’s not allow that hussy to ruin our party.

 

Too shocked to ask questions, we complied and sang until midnight, yelled Happy New Year!, hugged each other, and continued to have a blast.

 

          I woke up on Kate’s littered floor, where five or six other revelers lay in various states of stupor. I took some aspirin, and trudged down the stairs to my old Impala. The windows were shattered, the tires flat, and the headlights were broken into small pieces. A sheet of notebook paper was duct taped to the rear view mirror. I opened the driver’s door and saw the crayoned smiley face.





NIGHTHAWKER STREETWALKER

by David Spicer

 

          Flush with money, Harry Sears and I decided to tour Midtown bars, get smashed, pick up women, and be unable to perform later. Harry felt that women liked men to get so drunk that they couldn’t be ramrods.

 

We visited Mama Mia’s first, where we drank Margaritas. No action. We walked next door to Hellhole, a punk pit painted flat black on the exterior, where bands plastered posters and turned it into an off-white surface in about a month’s time. Perhaps the bar went broke because of painting costs, but I felt that the music was cruddy and drove away real money. Besides, I didn’t like the Wintergreens enough to hustle wild females. We trudged over to Milky Mulligan’s, a white building with a golf theme, and drank a couple of Woody Tigers. They tasted like, well, wooden tigers.

 

          Minnie’s was a dank enclave of bikers and truckers. The dankness ended in fistfights each night and Minnie’s quickly went broke. We drank beer until I tired of Harry rambling about his dream woman. Next: The Nail Biter. It was a high-end meat market where women drank. We left when we didn’t like the Bloody Marys and Harriet Wallbangers.

 

          Next: Twelfth Night. Artsy fartsy, along with The Aubade next door, another snooty-tooty place that catered to actors, poets, and artists. Both lasted a long time because many people deemed themselves actors, poets, and artists. The infamous poet Delia frequented these two watering holes, which late in their lives became arson victims.

 

          We counted fifteen bars before the end of the tour. Harry and I knew we were done when we chose The Rails as our last call. Staggering into the darkest dive that neither one of us had visited, we ordered tequila and finished it when inspiration struck me. Nighthawker Streetwalker, swaggering from the drain, Nighthawker . . .  I recited, when a greasy-haired hag with pockmarks yelled, Who you callin’ Nighthawka Steetwalka, Mothafucka? Nobody, ma’am, we slurred, and exited as fast as our drunk asses allowed.

The next morning Harry and I woke up in jail, our heads bigger than boxcars.





LUST SONG OF AMERICAN MANIAC

 

by David Spicer

 

                                                           

Not one to bring roses before the wine-and-dine routine, I sing:

Let’s do it in a bathtub of spaghetti sauce, let’s do it on a bed

            of hundred dollar bills, while Jimmy’s blaring.

I’ll try anything to see where your legs disappear.

I’ll be a gambler carrying a diamond cane.

 

I want to fuck you.

In the cherry orchards outside your daughter’s patio.

In the backseat of your ’57 Studebaker.

Everywoman, I want to drill life into you:

the only abortions I believe in are poems.

I want to find you some midnight wearing white.

 

You can be on top if we’re on a Big Apple elevator.

But no, this is Memphis, the city of dreamers and vampires,

where sex is a hunchback everybody hides.

Where sex whispers in our ears like a hoarse beggar.

Your garters shining under the moon.

While bookies collect on our most glorious act,

after we’ve climbed a hill of rusty steel.

I want to meet you in a supermarket, toss the lamb chops on the linoleum,

            hump you burning in the freezer display.

I want to explore you in a Graceland bedroom under a velvet Elvis painting.

I want dogs to bark, babies to bawl, guns to shoot all over this ragdoll city.

I want to crank you on Queen of the Mississippi.

 

I want to caress you, not talk about the lasagna

you ate with Tony last night.

Not about the kid you killed with your Volvo.

 

I’d stop shaving for a year if you’d let me remove your slip with my nose.

My smiles would melt into your kisses if you’d let me slide your panties

            down those sycamore legs.

I’d tell lies about the pyramids to sack you.

I have to share my sexist jokes while I school you.

You don’t know how I feel.

                                                                 

 I dream of you every day, a bit boyish like my kid sister.

I want you to be my mother as I lick your mango tits.

You don’t have a face—only a farm of strawberries.

 

I want to lay you in the post office under WANTED posters.

I must have you in the name of lust.

Will you say Fuck off?

Can I follow you home to your hot tub, drink White Russians by lamplight,

            and dance to the Tennessee Waltz?

Even if I read you poems by Marvell, Donne, Browning, Shakespeare,

            and myself?

 

I need you in your 40-year-old Rapunzel-haired wonder.

I want to whisper into your sensitive ears the parables of Tolstoy, Dickens,

            and Woody Allen.

I crave you after I eat oysters and vanilla custard.

In a Ferris wheel as it’s ascending.

The whole circle would crack like a giant egg.

The sun would grin, the sky would chuckle.

 

Can you be an immortal celebrity, with your twitters in spasms

when you’re wiggling to a bossa nova catechism?

I live for the moment I can drive into you, beautiful hussy.

At the muscle club, in a telephone booth, in the cargo belly of an airplane.

 

I know the color of your skin is an orange glow.

I dwell on whether your toes curl when you scream with disappointed ecstasy.

I’ll hitchhike a ride with a carload of drunk jocks to get to your house.

 

It doesn’t matter if sable is more expensive this time of year.

I want your blossomed body.

The challenge of the unattainable, the anathema of blemishes.

I know you won’t disappoint me.

Bite me in the balls.

I’ll pay anything for a look at those moon-crater nipples.

I’ll sing “How Sweet I Roamed from Field to Field” for a taste.

                                                                                   

   Don’t order me to climb a streetlight and blow the bulb.

That legendary fig of yours, pink, hot beauty,

            folded in a sleepless dream.

You’re my last hope to be human.

 

I’ll let you whip me with your hickory switches.

I’ll let you sit on my aging Auden face.

In the stadium while the Giants are stomping the Cowboys 69-0.

In the boxing ring, with the hungry watching, we’ll be each other’s knockout.

We’ll rub ourselves raw in caves, listen to Beatles records, view the Olympics.

 

I want to gently scrape my teeth over every inch of your skin.

Let me comb my fingers through your sand-speckled hair.

Pretend I’m Picasso.

Pretend I’m a priest.

Say I’m Goliath, say I’m Dilbert.

Say Yes.

 

I want to hear angels applaud.

I want Elvis to resurrect.

I want the Lone Ranger’s silver bullet with your husband’s blessing.

 

Telephone me, telegraph me, e-mail me, rent a billboard.

Tell me I’m the greatest since Ali,

Lie to me, lie next to me,

Let me guide you to forty-one symphony screams,

Let me show you who the King really is, how big his prick is,

Close your eyes to the galaxies as I wildcat you,

Vanish in a flash of light

Before I die.


 

 

…THE TOWERS FELL…

 

 

by David Spicer

                                                 

 

Where were you when the Towers fell?

 

I was dead drunk in a Philly diner

waiting for the bars to open.

A two thousand-dollar suit shook my shoulders

and I didn’t wake up for half an hour.

He asked me if I had heard.

I griped that I was passed out.

The TV blasted, smoke billowed so black

I thought everyone in the diner would choke.

Blacker than sins exorcists had purged.

People stampeded toward the camera as if for comfort.

It was the worst snuff film ever.

When the Towers fell, I wondered

if my girlfriend’s bed begged for another lover.

 

As the Towers fell, a sleepy summer ended.

We filed away Gary Condit

and he breathed a sigh of relief.

Dylan’s new album was a silent hiccup.

Oklahoma City was a prairie memory.

 

The towers fell and I couldn’t find my dice.

The towers fell and the stars somersaulted.

 

Cynics claimed 9-11 was karmic payback

for slave millions of the South,

interred Japanese in California,

displaced and murdered savages of the Plains,

innocent, executed prisoners in every state.

After the Towers fell, a preacher admonished

it was the penance for a faggot nation,

The Rocky Horror Picture Show magnified.

 

After the Towers fell, a network fired a comic

for mouthing off about America.

Everything changed. Or did it?

Airport goons felt my gummy bear and nuts more than once,

my phone was tapped, computer hacked, DNA swiped.

City brownouts popped my lights,

lone wolves tried to outdo the twin peaks’ collapse,

and I’m still sucking Washington’s tit.

  

Before the Towers fell, Y2K proved itself a hoax.

The dot com bubble burst like a bloated cookie.

Tiger Woods ruled as the boss of the fairway.

Baseball almost died of steroids.

We idolized celebrities and reality shows.

 

Since the Towers fell, no American

has won the Nobel Literature Prize.

After the Towers fell, Obama won

a Peace Prize he didn’t deserve.

Now, Donald Trump’s hair is an orange joke,

while Republicans bite their own balls.

Men become women and women become men,

and the wing nuts suffer morality strokes.

In Colorado and Washington, it’s legal to take a toke.

A buddy complained the world is upside down and inside out.

 

Since the Towers fell, it’s getting hotter than Mercury.

Chicken Little was right because the sky is falling,

The Arctic is falling.

The mountains are falling.

Slave peddlers thrive.

Kingpins murder.

Mexico is glorious in blood and drugs.

 

The day the Towers fell, boredom died.

When the Towers fell, a teenager yelled, Awesome!

When the Towers fell, the millennial flashpoint floored us.

Our eternal albatross. It made us humble as ladybugs.

 

After the Towers fell, nihilists rejoiced.

Two thugs mugged a shopkeeper in Stockton.

Twenty Hell’s Angels gangbanged an orchid blooming in Maine.

It was just another day in the life of Infinity.

 

When the Towers fell, the country saw two airplanes

stab a building, smoke fluming outward.

 

The day the Towers fell was the real day the music died,

the music of you and me,

fucking to the beat of Satisfaction,

me and a stranger, you and your enemy,

ever in a neo-Whitmanesque dance.

 

I dreamed dragons ate the airplane.

I dreamed no virgins greeted the martyrs

and Dante met them near the nine circles.

 

I dreamed the sky that day was a Georgia O’Keefe canvas.

I was a Magritte Man, suspended in that painting.

I peered over the chaos.

I wept for the dying first responders.

Was the Hudson the River Styx that day?

 

Tragedians are brave men.

The Greeks and Shakespeare asked questions we keep asking.

We pay for our fathers’ sins,

for the lynchers, witch burners.

But are we innocent, with our sins

occupying fifty million infernos?

A child who steals his first

candy bar when he’s hungry?

A reptilian rapist?

A single father who robs a gas station?


A knocked-up girl who kills her fetus?


The Towers fell and they were just two more numbers.

The Towers fell and have we learned anything?

Do we think some entity loves us, whatever creed we follow?

 

After the Towers fell, strangers held hands

and sang America and Kumbaya.

Iraqis, Saudis, and Iranians chanted Down with Satan!

A militant cleric bragged that

when the Towers fell, America’s

cocks turned flaccid, forever impotent.

 

I’m American and hubris happy.

I mourn and celebrate with pride.

I mourn the Towers’ 3,000.

Without irony I mourn the deaths of that day.

I mourn soldiers like Pat Tillman

sent away and slaughtered

for a Texan king with a daddy problem who

waged a phony war against a perfect patsy’s country.

I mourn the unborn children as a thoughtless consequence.

 

I mourn Benazir Bhutto.

I mourn the Katrina victims and survivors.

I mourn Daniel Pearl and Elsa Cayat.

I mourn Angie Zapata and Sean Kennedy.

I mourn Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

 

I celebrate Malala.

I celebrate the iPod and iPhone.

I celebrate the Grand Canyon.

I celebrate American Pharoah.

I celebrate Pussy Riot.

I celebrate the Internet and Google.

I celebrate the first woman President.

I celebrate her husband.

I celebrate you who are alive.

And I celebrate you who are dead.

I celebrate this miracle of a planet.

 

I mourn sodomized women.

I mourn children in their daddies’ bathrooms.

I cry for the Javan Rhino, the Vaquita, the South China Tiger,

I mourn the rise of Isis in its beheading infamy.

I mourn wives beaten to death by loving partners.

I mourn friends killed in churches by bigoted gunmen.

I mourn the Amur leopard, the African wild dog,

and the rest of the angels in their natural glory.

I mourn you who are dead.

I mourn you who are alive.

I mourn this miracle of a planet.

 

When the Towers fell, a nation cried like a child never wronged.

Nineteen lunatics wounded Goliath.

The day the Towers fell, a billionaire asked himself

How can I profit?

 

The day the Towers fell, a mosquito bit a baby to death.

A gambler won a million at craps in Macao

and bought a thangka to gloat.

Twenty hunters clubbed five hundred

baby seals to death with baseball bats.

                                                                               

Three thousand souls.

I think of that day, now,

and ask if we’ve learned anything.

We remember where but not why.

 

A month after the Towers fell, the diner where I upchucked

closed its black doors.

I imagined cobwebs and rats visited

the cracked leather stools, and the jukebox

played Like a Rolling Stone over

and over on lonesome Saturday nights.

                                                              

Years after the Towers fell,

in a bar by the East River

I met a hazel-eyed woman

with brown curls past her belt:

that first night she lay on her stomach

I swept the hair above her head with my hands,

and on her back from ass to neck

the Towers loomed in steel-blue ink

with red flames at the top, bodies plummeting

toward the ground, where doves sat

in silence, moments after the Towers fell.

 Where were you when the Towers fell?

 

AFTER THE FIRE

 

by David Spicer

 

 

A chimney and a corpse—all that remained

of the cabin in the newspaper photos.

No archway-inviting guests to wait

in the parlor, this roof protected

bones in a different way, its blanket

of burned wood their cover. I remember

you naked in hip-length blonde hair

the evening after you and two younger sisters

welcomed me into this home on the ridge

overlooking the river. You and I lay

on the bed for hours in the lantern-lit

upstairs bedroom, naming the stars

we knew in the night sky. I ask decades

later if you’re these soft black pipes melted

into the ghastly skull, or are they a squatter

who may have hidden upstairs to protect himself

from violent burglars stealing family heirlooms,

their canoe perched on the embankment?

Or did the three of you girls leave this cabin

even though I departed with a promise

to return? Why didn’t I? And I wonder,

the day after I viewed those pictures,

about the onyx necklace I squeezed

into your pale palm that April day.

Now I roam the mountains in a solitary

life, and when I learn it is or isn’t you

in these ashes, I may live and die

a wolf hearing leaves rustle and twigs

snap, deep in a tortured life, a drifter beast

lost in a landscape foreign and familiar.



 

 

A THUNDERSTORM’S SIDESHOW

 

by David Spicer

 

 

I’d offer this rose and its stem

from the mountain as rain smirks

outside this church where I beg

for your pardon. I accept that

I don’t deserve your forgiveness.

Fog lifted from the lighthouse

hours ago, the shoals an enemy

I never understood, and the shutters

are closed, but the white owl is still

my confidante. Our romance, I agree,

was a thunderstorm’s sideshow,

and, taming my horsewhip temper,

you were more patient than a snail.

The winner of our snowball fights

and a board game called Pagans,

you claimed territory with a runner’s

grace, collected rare shells, never asked

me to shine brighter than the promise

you praised. But when the sheriff arrested

me for sucker-punching your brother

on the chin because he sneered

once too often, I embarrassed you

the last time. Now, after my release,

will you welcome me with your black

hair that decorates the wind or suggest

I climb a cliff and imitate a suicidal

painter with his last splash of red gouache?

Oh, you’ll never arrive—it’s no longer

our season—for I’m uglier than the sky.



FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND MINDY’S TOPAZ EYES

 

by David Spicer

 

 

That dusk in '99 we ate watermelon

and cantaloupe by the armory

canal, your topaz eyes glistened

behind borrowed sunglasses and I

scanned your thin, bikinied body as you

played a concertina. You caught me,

and I felt embarrassed but you didn’t,

threatened by no one, your slender hands

under the instrument’s straps, the tune

paradise’s music. Mindy, the spotlight

shined on you and you loved it.

I never tired of our swimming before

you appeared from the wall’s shadows,

holding the concertina and a bamboo purse

with a pellet gun inside. I wish I hadn’t been

a cokehead that summer night: when the police

chased us after watching me snort a line

with the last hundred I had, we ran like

greyhounds, harvesting onions the size

of baseballs. In the holding cell together you

joked about a couple lemons I could

squeeze, and I declined, afraid the officer

would appear and separate us or—

worse—strip us like the creep he was.

I’ll take a rain check, and I kissed you,

wondering what happened to your concertina,

not to mention those glistening topaz eyes.


 

 

 

David Spicer has had poems in Mad Swirl, Reed Magazine, Slim Volume, The Laughing Dog, In Between Hangovers, The American Poetry Review, Easy Street, Ploughshares, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., Dead Snakes, and in A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Pushcart, is the author of one full-length collection of poems and four chapbooks, and is the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee. On Wednesdays, he's a misanthrope.






 

 

 

 




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