Assorted highlights of Tina Posner’s literary life include: being mocked by John Ashbery in a elevator; disgusting Louise Glück with a pack Freshen Up “squirt” gum; getting a spontaneous kiss from John Giorno on a bathroom line at St. Mark’s Church; adding a line to an exquisite corpse poem started by Robert Creeley; drinking ouzo in a Greek restaurant with Diane DiPrima; riding in a car with Robin Blazer (sadly, not a Blazer); and grocery shopping with Jack Clarke for brand-name paper products.
A Cardboard Pool
We spoke of building a cardboard pool,
one that floats in the air above the snakes,
not cut into the ground with life-size Tonkas.
The sails overhead create leafless shade,
the plantings and water fleas clear algae.
But the overhead sails lift the dream, cutting
into the air with a sharp keel, a bruising tool.
The water, a sea-glass green cools the skin,
not the hot agave green that bleeds—its thorn,
a tearing horn. And the dream punctures,
leaking from its makeshift cardboard seams.
What was I thinking? Let’s be grateful for
the sea of weeds. Believe that we are living
life as if awake, not paralyzed and imagining.
Nests of pet hair catch in spider webs and
fill in corners. Grape vines and roses arm
wrestle around the circle fence. To the east,
the deep end of night pools, it’s where we
sing songs for England and drown our losses.
The setting sun sets some flies on fire.
And I am married to their miner.
If Your Yard Is Filled with Flies (A Ritual Place)
Don’t kill them. They will be replaced with mosquitoes.
And I don’t even want to know what happens if you kill
the mosquitoes. The blood of insects will be avenged.
They must be allowed to tickle, to stick in your skin
like acupuncture needles, give you rashes and fevers.
Dear future readers, you already know about the bees.
Here, our fruit tastes like stagnant water but the surface
is taut and blushing, like plump, rural children.
We are buried in propaganda. We cannot properly age.
The concrete world is disappearing. If I close my eyes
and ears there is almost nothing left. The chemical smell
blots out the wine, the hard surfaces, armed plants,
succulents in a dry land, the pressure dropping dangerously,
super cells overhead to the north, not one fat drop yet.
There are rituals for heading to the windowless center
with flashlights and a radio. Getting in the tub like a boat
ready to set sail in the air. It’s as humid as Bangkok.
It was a late afternoon we spent in time, erasing
what in hindsight not was particularly photogenic.
It’s only 14 years into the new millennium
and we are stuck with these decrepit planes,
their worn upholstery and broken tray tables,
tan plastic arms scratched. One can only wonder about
the bolted guts, spider bites, and lightning.
Friends of Friends
Look at the sun with closed eyes—it’s a red bloodbath
of light. Dead fronds rattle medicine high in the café palm.
And now everything looks like a negative. You should not look
at the sun even with closed eyes, scream the grackles. Some machine
grumbles in a low E flat, I am just saying, as if I really knew what
that note sounds like, as if the pebbles on the ground were colored confetti.
I probably wouldn’t have been friends with Schuyler and Dickinson,
I whisper to into my coffee. They would have been friends of friends,
who went to better schools and don’t misread diary for dairy.
It’s a question of taste, I once heard a TV judge say, the word spoken
in hushed tones, as if a vital organ had experienced necrosis.
Forgive me, Jimmy and Emily, for dragging you into this.
Here’s what I imagine instead: drinking with Ted Berrigan,
and flirting with his better-looking friend, laughing
in a drunken brownout, up to my brown eyes in sippin’ whiskey,
sticking my elbow in the wet spot on the table. Leaning back
into the chair until it hits me comfortably below my wings,
as the bar smoke curls into my eyes and mouth.
Yet, it’s all so light and clear here as the wind tickles my cheeks
with stray hairs, and the grackles go off like alarms, and
the coffee now cold in the cup, light in my palms, gurgling in my guts,
as the day grows much too warm for bare-branches now.
The sky refuses to commit to gray or blue with its opaque
clouds turning the sun into a moon.
Some days there is a great differential between sun
and shadow, pole and equator, quiet and fear.
Water vapor droplets hang above like tiny mirrors,
floaters on a wet lens that burn high and dry-eyed.
A falsetto voice tries too hard to be sincerely yours.
Riding on the waves’ assonance and interference,
the words are worn like a lock inside a locket held
close to the heart, where the heart feels most worn.
Children that were are now living the mythic days
of generations to come. I audition for talking stone,
nominate you for singing flame; the birds whirl in
spirals above the garden speakers, over the umbrellas.
We copy it all down in the mud with a stick.
Let it dry into a prologue for the unborn—each story,
like a face, has its good side. The words spin further
from their source to silly, surreal, incomprehensible.
Renovations layer the place, say space (formally)
dressed in new togs for each dance. You may think we sit
on the wallflower side from the way we wane. But we are
nude with clues for nubby charcoal to connect and shade.
I Ching and a Painted Tree
14. Sun over Downpour
A lone tree with heat in its leathery leaves, keeps its blood
cool. Not so me, Daphne. Gods can be assholes.
if they bother orchestrating time at all without nodding out
into atonal twilight where the colored notes drain to gray,
woolgathering amid the concrete fade, modern and bright.
Let coins narrate this hard ground, hitting and ringing.
33. Heaven over Mountain
The wasps are waning like the ghosts of birds flown into glass.
The moth living in the dashboard appears sporadically like lust.
It’s blood moon time, the old four-cornered spiral beyond the reach
of advertising, straining after what is beneath social performance,
what cannot be bartered, an out of body experience
like chasing the beloved into the rain, breath stinging.
57. Wind over Wind
Seasons on either side of the skin, a two-step dance: slow, slow,
fast, fast, slow. The cologne fails to mask the alcoholic fumes,
the flowers’ scents, muted No Toulouse of yellow/red
fire seen through closed lids. Flush of chemical breeze on sweat.
The back kick was a nervous tick counted more than twice, orbiting
boy with bottle and knife in back pockets, dancing.
60. Abyss over Joy
Confidence ebbs, flows, a musical score of musculature.
I don’t mean to scare the young women. Really I just wanted to share
that accident of nouns, snatching them quickly by heart
from the air, moments before conforming to performance,
in the gray interstitials when nervous ticks are full of kinetic potential.
A green bough yields firmly to a greedy embrace, its pliancy fleeting.