Thwarted

Among the ways I have tried to express it
was the arbor of roses over your door
constructed at night by carpenters,
tip-toed in raccoon quietude,
pounding felt-covered hammers and oiled nails-­-
the roses you snubbed to an icy death
that snowy morning you never looked up,
or back, suitcased to cab for that
solitary European vacation
I helped you plan /

Among the ways
were the moonlit serenatas with mandolins
that elbowed each other behind your fence.
The tenor who labored my verses, your name
he said had too many vowels, the high C
half-voice for the paltry fee I offered.
Yes, the same players who fell from the willows
attempting to get my poems heard
over the tomcat rhapsody
and the din of your air conditioner /

Among the ways
were the commonplace words, veiled in a blush
that punctuated our seldom discourse. Not even
“Hello” could be dropped from the tongue single-edged.
Yes, the same words, like “dinner” and “alone” —
(“Just us?” “Yes, the two of us.” “Get back to you.”) —
that registered blank in your eyes.
the silent phone, the cobwebbed mailbox
say all that need be said
/

Among the ways
are those men left over from Fu Manchu
who follow your other admirers about
like dacoits, eyeing the alleys and parapets
for places to make their kill and escape.
Strange how your exes are turning up
dead, or missing/presumed, or reportedly
away with their new enamoratae.
I never planned to spend so much
of my inheritance on hit men
/

Among the ways
are the midnight oaths and promises
I make to dubious monarchs of love,
half-seen in the smog of my sulfurous hearth,
as I barter to Eros in Pluto’s coinage
a year of my life, for a night of yours.
The incense clears, the brimstone pall
clears out to dawn-light, the mowers
start up at the edge of the graveyard,
and no, you are not there;
you are never there, nor will you be.
Cruel bargain, I am a year more old,
and you a year younger. The gulf
already great between us, becomes a rift,
a continental shelf, extinction crater /

Be gone, be gone. I am done with this.


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