Not yet —

Her voice cuts late summer wind over the ankle-tall waves.
The air smells like lake-water.
A familiar rottenness and small things
not yet dead.

This is a show for people in love: heat fattened geese
skim their bellies, the woman plays with a loose wrist,
gray skinned couples dance hip-to-hip.

I read my Sylvia Plath novel until it is too dark to read.
Keep my collarbones bare for the stained sky,
picturing the singer tracing them with a broken string.

She shrieks a familiar line
missing sentiment and note.

I imagine Otis Redding rising
water-logged skin splitting like fresh fig,
cracking the surface of lake Monona.

 

 

 

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Spring in Madison

When the spring-heavy clouds
hover their soggy bodies over this city,
the men who live on the length
of State Street flock to the coffeeshop across
from the mediterranean cafe to swap
cups of congealed coffee infused
with rainwater and flash their chip-tooth
no-toothed smiles.

Johnson at State

escaping the office at
2 am my
hands bloodied with lipstick
i am relieved to
hit the sidewalks: kept free
of trash but cluttered with trashed
bodies

a two story urban utopia
cracks

a strawberry blonde with
little curls around her ears
throws her legs in front of her as
though hoping they’ll hit the ground,
her shirt cut nearly in half,
like the warmth of sugary Svedka suddenly made
her sexy in her skin,
her stomach stiff against the claws of october in the
midwest.

a shoe-less Latino man with
bags on his arms and
the rest of his belongings beneath his
eyes
shrieks in the street and
waves a hand that
seems to have forgotten some of its fingers.

the hunch backed man
inhabits his usual spot,
(one of the last remaining after the
city tried to bury the homeless still
mummified in their sleeping bags)
and reminds me
“the first joke is free,”

I wonder what he has
to
laugh about

homeless on state

He stops me on the corner of state and Johnson

just after the blurry line of switching todays

eyes shiny change purses,

pupils glinting like dimes.

we compare our inked skins

discuss meanings of stained bodies and

shake hands.

reaching into denim tightened pockets

I have a 5.

“If you ever need anything, let me know,” he says.

Handing away crumpled bills,

the paper is too thin to fill my stomach.

I need anything.