AFTER THE READING IN SOUTHEAST
Anacostia sounds like
a Russian shtetl,
same beginning, same vowel
opening, ana, delicate
lace of streets, handiwork
of dreams as we writers
gather on good hope
DC cries Ana, the woman
I could be or the one
I won't be, or the one
I want to be.
Anacostia is my mother's
hand on my forehead
or the slips in her drawer
and trying them on
when she's not there.
Anacostia is lifting
what belongs to you
to your face and closing
What is the bridge between
hearing and understanding,
the difference between sympathy
and empathy? Ana, ana, a, a,
pastel blue, pink and
bone in my hand.
HOTEL BARTENDER ATTENDS
HER FIRST BACHELOR PARTY
At first I can't see the women,
the men are standing in a circle---
nimbus of bachelors, hungry
voices telling the two women
what they want to see,
what they want them to do.
I don't know what I was thinking
when I went upstairs, now
with my back against
a wall, I wonder if this
is the same impulse we have
to turn our heads at highway
accidents, something close and
awful, a borrowed tragedy
both ours and not ours to claim---
Look, don't look, the broken
line reminding us it's time
to pass again.
There's too many porno directors
in here, one of the men complains,
his dollar bill becoming tongue
or finger before it crashes
to the mattress, the women,
taking each other in their mouths
and filling each other.
The men leer in---
tell me how it feels
and I wonder if this gives
them any pleasure, and real
pleasure, the women or the men or
myself here watching while
my boyfriend drinks scotch downstairs,
the one I poured for him after I hissed
Tonight, I'm not your girlfriend
skating past him with my tray
choosing to watch this rite of passage,
foolish and indulgent,
American, look, don't look,
the groom's face closer, coming
closer. We do this because we can.
A DRINKER'S LOVE POEM
I could drink the glass of you down,
the vodka of you---
how you can lose youself in anything,
the woo-woo of you, the kamikaze
of you, the fuzzy navel of you.
The rocks of you melt into another
round, the Maker's Mark of you,
the martini, dirty of you, the extra
olives of you, the Sapphire eyes
of you, the Effen body of you,
the make it a double of you
until we order tequila shots past
the midnight of you, no salt, no limes,
the pure scotch of you, the peaty
sex of you, the my father of you,
the Freud of you, the Oedipus of you.
Mornings of bloody mary sting of you,
Afternoons of the perfect manhattan
of you, the sleepless city of you.
I want the distillation of you, the fermentation
of you, the rim of my finger
on the glass of you.