Try to hide sorrow in a dry poem
and all you’ll get is a line arrow
of razzle-dazzle pique
pointing down, down deep,
towards a brown road in
a flat state where the sky there
hangs half dull half billow
and no one gets up before noon
or goes out before the moon
rises over a straw-colored cat
stretched sleepless across
the lid of a metal can half filled
with balled-up paper and gristle scraps.
Baby tried not to cry,
her eyes still bulgy from a ten-day
binge on gin and tears
and sex with an uptown pimp
we’ll call Joe, who promised
a generous wad
of cash each week, a sapphire
ring, a Chevy Impala, a trip
to Acapulco, and back,
plus a condo with deck just outside Coral Gables
in exchange for a lie-down wherever and whenever he said
so. Seemed a better option, by miles,
than a tenement on the lower east side.
While her daddy diddled every big-breasted, boy-hipped secretary he
could get his hands on but married himself off to a little, brittle
chickadee from across the pond, who herself
had a taste for gin and also for Vegas craps
and kidney-shaped pools but not for the small dark girl
who followed her everywhere, nut-scampering and twitchy,
and dogged the silky retriever pup that ate soft sweaters,
then piddled in circles beneath the stairs.
Under a scorching sun they came from far flung
for daddy’s burning, the jackass penguins and their lah-de-dah crows,
but baby’s bones just got tumbled in,
with only a parched girl in black jeans, a lunatic aunt, and a few sparrows looking on.
Someone touches daddy’s coffin and sobs.
I throw a few rose petals into baby’s open grave.