Forbes and Fifth

Three Poems

Between Body & Paradise

It happened one day
while collecting seashells with Jane.
We walked along the opaque water,
the cold lamellipodia of the sea crawling out
and back, sweeping against
our panko legs in the sand.

While picking out white shells
exhumed in the shore-muck,
the laws between body and paradise shifted,
our parents on one end,
two pin figures on the briny dais
of the boardwalk, fluorescing
with sharp casino lights, the colors they became
like biblical angels, aflame, a fury grounded
by two small bodies.

And Jane and I stood opposite
that intangible parallel,
two young girls with rolled-up jeans,
stained in sea-water, our bodies
clay, dirt, Remember, it’s just flesh,
bone. Like mud dolls, or small spiles
stuck into the sand, waiting to spill out,

wandering further to the waves,
hearing nothing but the voices in the water,
and our parents calling us away
from the wolfing of the ocean,
a hushed murmuring of paradisal bells
caught between our planes.

The Secret of Cutler Beach


we are
the secret
of cutler beach

when the sun has
burnt that white
sea black

by night
salted by
stars that fling down

on our skin and
it goes soft
and white

and our
dark lips are
fragile just right

and bruise just right
and our legs,
crane legs,

can bend
and can fold
without a fight

our plum lips burst
bleeding bright
and we

keep this secret
with those lips
shut tight.

Young November

The young month of November bleeds in the
leaves that float there and there like
fish you can’t walk on Fifth rude people
in brown are always there with a cig
and a lighter at your ass, I can hear them walking

Parran Hall has a mountain deity presiding over it like
other gods he is man-made, but Beware his Iron Ring that cauterizes
the demon right out of you and you are left with the painful wound
they light him so it’s his fire that glows at night I’ve never
heard of the Oakland God but I found him

in a man’s sharp-pressed business pants they look
like the sound of watercress which
is fresh and alive they say
if you get hit by a Pitt shuttle they pay for your tuition I
want that Christine says she’d take it
no more talk of stealing WiFi or coupons or CVS extrabucks
just a cast or bandages, maybe a concussion
would college take me in an open-backed hospital gown?

There are buds on the bushes by Fifth I call
bullshit, everything else is dying here in the Northeast Fall,
but there’s thin gold on the trees by Towers even though Towers
smells like pizzavomit in a washing machine the
young drinkers look so elegant when bowed over the bushes
with rouged cheeks rough so, a host of pigeons lifts
from the Presby. lawn North Face girl has an apricot
face that is horrified under the flapping gray wings.

In front of the Carnegie Library a short sausage-shaped couple
sells apples I could fit my entire fist inside one of those apples
I like that they are red and gold at the same time the
apple woman is singing softly like my mother used
to play the piano at night right under my bedroom which is
still the most important sound to me
that is how I knew my mother again when she came back
from Maryland where the jobs were and the entire sky of stars
that looked like looking up into a snowfall.

In Oakland the stars will burn in the streetlamps and tan the
sidewalks or find hearth in the pocket windows with offices.
How can a Pittsburgh sky be so blue and the leaves so bright I’ve
seen it hail here in spring and in summer flood mold
into our basements, ruin our furniture.

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Volume 6, Fall 2014