Janet Buck: Three poems

I Hesitate

One of those women
(like all the rest).
Wondering why I live to fill
toboggan voids beneath
slit slits of sexiness.
Completion's duty colors all:
the way I stand in grocery lines,
playing with green bananas,
testing tipping firmness scales
for morning after passion drops.
Maybe apples for a pie,
sour grapes to shrinking raisins
vacuumed in my trembling hand.
Fear of growing full with seeds
and marriage getting sick again --
a crucifix on heaving breast.
Still I cadge for tandem time
of Siamese twins in waterbeds.

Love's lattice needs
a vine for meaning
same as vases crave a rose.
I rub you just as setting clay
turning corners toward the fire.
Messy, artsy, spinning sand.
Sky so crammed with possible,
I think the forecast might be rain.
I stick umbrella diaphragms
in diagrams of coyly
running from mistrust.
I hesitate to let you near
where I beg you to go.
Then comes sawed-off deadbolt kiss.
Bombing walls I've built
from all those fences torn.
My dress is up around my neck.
I'm strangled by spaghetti straps.
Licking the sauce around your mouth.
Dwelling to paint some masterpiece.

The Crumb-less Breadline

Pumped by fortune, a modern scrivener
jumps in her car and heads off
to a publicity meeting to widen the score
of artsy touch. Leave something
worthy on a doorstep, see her name
in famous lights of magazines -- all the while
assuming she is acting in a moral way,
rebuilding Athens ruination sitting on her patio.

Out comes blunt sword slapping blood.
A homeless man is standing on a weedy island,
idle but for cloying words. Unshaven,
skinny as a pencil, holding a sign
that will not shut its eyes to truth:
I am HUNGRY
I am STRANDED
I would RATHER
BEG than STEAL!
Right below iambic pleas --
translation in a Spanish tongue.

Black-tip felt pen striking at composure's white.
The car ahead, his mirror tilted
in horror's disbelieving shame.
They both push buttons. Lock four doors.
When yellow sirens call for brakes,
they race through shirking ruby lights.
Angst of all those urban fleas
attacking monied camisoles.

Poverty's grass, the toner of grief
in pigments of delusion's shade.
Dusty sugar of green hope bills
kept in pockets for the bank.
She questions compost worms of art --
its heaps and piles of vacant sand.
Returning to the powder room
of smart facsimiles of pain,
questions arsenals of thought
as empty barrels of vacuous guns.

The Voice Remains

Meandering the foggy cape in mushy sand,
your words come back,
breaking winter's stillness now.
The sea, you said, to quote Van Gogh,
is the color of mackerel, changeable.
Its wavy leather lucid hide
a letter in a painter's hand.
Prismed slants of signatures.
It's been two decades since we've hugged.
So much has passed; so much decay.
Your wife of almost sixty years
has gone to heaven; she's talking
up a storm with God:
She'll have a nice log cabin waiting.
Tulips sitting on the table
drinking from the love still there.
I can almost smell the wood.

Deafness rules our conversation.
Touch is groping in the night.
I've let the clay of distance set.
Now I'm passing through and stop.
A child on a racing skateboard --
even though I'm growing old.
Cobwebs of my graying hair
like harems of a hoping sky
that cling to columns of your life.
I press my ear against your tongue
and listen for a scrap of spit
that's much more noble than my words.
Taking notes on torn diplomas of our flesh.
Hugging the wax around a wick.
Your voice remains in thunder claps
of gratitude for living
the drink of a full, full cup.
Books upon the dusty shelves
like bedroom slippers
peeking out from sagging chairs.