Oiled silk and red eye, knows nervous twitches.
Your jaw across the table clasps me quiet. Make
a muscle, hunched over hind legs primed for flight.
Cotton blows roadside, tell tale belly fur, scared white.
You’ve dealt yourself a good hand, and your doggish
lips slack against pointed bone. But I see in wide
periphery, and my fat folds warm both neck and feet.
Angular baby, you’ll never get a firm grip on me.
Tonight the sky stinks of little red diamonds.
I slide them across surfaces, flippant;
stardust sticks in my fingerprints.
We sleep under a ceiling sprayed with bullets.
Do you chart holes, hope to spell out the arc of us?
A powdered donut succumbs in coffee: always, utterly.
Pastry cheeks, cupped at your center of buoyancy.
Celestial waters smooth over card sharks.
Gilled gliding, in most ways incompatible. One hook.
Clearly he’s seen too many romantic comedies.
Scraps months (potentially) of courtship in favor
of one wild gesture. No matter that the lady in question
prefers omelets to nesting. The American way.
He throws all his savings into a last-minute ticket.
Ensuring surprise arrival, he hitches in the rain
from airport to her apartment, his tail feathers soggy
and muddled before he can lay bird breast across her doormat.
The roommate stiffens at this spectacle. The lady,
she explains, is away, on a date. She expects her home
soon, shrugs toward the sofa. What else suits a would-be
lover? Entirely pot committed, he sits and waits.
A meeting: low stakes. I choose savanna.
Grasses, lush eyelashes, woody plants.
Play your horned head across my lap.
Cloven feet can rinse in seasonal rains.
Held slick between forest and prairie,
I lighten. We ante in tender shoots.
enterprise writhes in our hands, studded
threaten to cobbler me whole.
All games involve measure, declare a winner.
Yet your collar reassures, surely
it’s never known iron. Opens to the beat.
I must admit a certain finned ferocity
gripped me as you stacked your chips. Monster
best kept under water.
Clever wind, anemic cloud cover.
A promise: in the next round I’ll gut you to the pit.
She is older, careful with her movements. He peels
the coat from her shoulders with practiced elasticity.
Black detailing retracts into the closet like a servant’s
bow, as if wrinkles could speed her steady unraveling.
His beard curls, he must be fussing with weaponry
or else an open palm. The alternation confuses.
If only he could discover what she keeps tucked
under that finery, but the mystery matters more.
He clasps her elbow as they descend the stairs; blue
lines their faces. Women are best handled like stems
on wine glasses: gently and high in the air. Look how
she glints regal in candlelight after all these years.
Still she is a child, clutching her single flower
in the snow. That cold expression spools him back
to the first crowning, when he practiced variations
of his blank stare. No man dares to read them now.
I slipped into your yard the other night with my garden
spade and dug your tomato plants out under moonlight.
They look fresh, if flaccid, in my plot. Perhaps miss
your wired support and regular jolts of fertilizer.
Yes, you like to calculate. Caution near the power lines .
Five black birds swing, callous. Like the death of a lover.
Two aces in the hole, a stranger in your bed. Risk the sky
open with dark wings. Pleasure blooms from stake.
Buckled foot soldier, ease the bit in with molasses. Sweet metal.
Jack six pack, he wears the saddle. A clever knave.
We are all of us scoundrels and slaves,
reeling for the chance to ride.
Meryl DePasquale is the author of the chapbook Dream of a Perfect Interface (Dancing Girl Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in numerous places, including DIAGRAM, Taurpaulin Sky Literary Journal and The Offending Adam. In collaboration with her husband, tattoo artist and illustrator Shawn Hebrank, she makes letterpress broadsides, mail art, and artist books under the name Four-Letter Press. Meryl also works as a freelance editor and writing coach. More at: meryldepasquale.com
“Fighting Tablets” by Meryl DePasquale originally appeared in Paper Darts on Oct 9, 2013.