By: R.T. Castleberry
WE MEASURE AFTERNOONS
Early May sinks us,
that sends vines creeping to
blooms ascent on terrazzo walls;
chases battering winds
along canopy sidewalks,
through beggars on bikes
bartering in desert camo.
As I stand at a Belleville corner
watching my prospects fade,
church bells storm
a steel shutter boulevard.
I buy a book from a kiosk
beside the Hotel Scarlett.
Two newspapers headline
high-rise murders, a third
pleads cash for kidnap ransom,
for families of staff lost to plague.
Out of place, out of line,
my Hong Kong mistress smokes
her evening opium, Lambrusco at hand.
A ruby pendant, a silver link bracelet
glimmer with each pose,
each sardonic wave to a soldiers convoy.
Sly and laughing, we met
at the Dragonfly bar.
Taking a turn, we sold our narratives
over French 75s and bruschetta.
I followed her to Portugal.
She flew with me to Paris
when I took a position at Le Monde.
In a linen shirt, she cuts my hair,
sleeves turned on slender arms,.
We share the hash pipe, afternoons at 4.
In a cold, wanting sleep
we drowse in denial of dreams,
a decade of futures.
Ambulance corps and staff car pass
below terrace lavender and lily.
The war advances through the border parishes.
There is nothing we know to add.
Taking a weakened system to early bed,
recovery days are avoidance–
of exertion, sunlight,
a mirror’s injury assessment.
Remedy and side effects radiate
through diagnosed pain, decipher as
they disorder the calming rest position.
Almost noon, almost midnight
I treat time with teevee repeats,
YouTube concerts, Best Of playlists;
with books scattered on desk and coffee table.
I range my rooms, restless, wasting
hours regained in afternoon sleep.
I made no place for sickness.
It’s been weeks waiting for
the release of an email
returning me to the world.
Narrative marred, the month spins out.
“ALL I HAD WAS GONE”
Draped in Union blue
I take a 12-month chip,
a copy of The Iceman Cometh,
cultivate a salesman’s grinning grip.
Miles registered in a company car,
a Valley trip lies ahead.
Spring becoming summer,
there’s a ghost in the garden,
a feral cat sensuous in the drying grass.
I light a Tiparillo,
block walk the gentrified greenery:
open lawn, fenced lawn,
high oaks arcing the boulevard.
Black dirt dust from a truck farm town
cakes a two-toned Chrysler.
The 5-column church is silent
this Thursday afternoon.
Doors are locked. I tip my hat
to the service schedule set
and framed in quarry marble.
A Hickey-Freeman summer weight coat
is thumbed over a shoulder.
There is no place left I seem to see.
Cigar ash flurries in the wind.
Tied with a 4-hand knot,
The Countess Mara silk stays tight.
An oil derrick figure on tie clip and cufflinks
mark ten years service
Down a distant circular drive,
a lone boy pushes a bike.
He hops the seat, gains the pedals,
wings around the median.
I’ll bring a survey team
to this memory next week.