2 Poems Published in Flights

Two poems selected by Adrienne Cassel, Guest Editor for Flights. My thanks to her and Jamey Dunham for their inclusion of Los Angeles to Las Vegas, 1958 and 90th and Lexington to Newark, NJ, 2011, which are part of a suite of poems called See America.

90th and Lexington to Newark, NJ, 2011

                                         for Nicholas 

In the hour before my vacation ends I meet

a young man who’s heart is as seared

as mine has been these last few years.

We open each other up with everything

we have: our lips, our eyes, our hands.

After, in the cab, he says he’s Googled me.

I’ve been opened up like a book

it seems, like so much Information,

my story spilling forward

from this man who’s researched the

man he’d loved for just an hour. After

our kiss in the cab, the Indian driver,

watching in the rearview at 44th,

discreetly turns. When my hour’s love

has gone, I ask the driver where he’s from.

“Calcutta,” he says. We talk of India’s beauty,

our families, the selfishness of Americans.

I remember the love of Indians in 1981,

in the pre-dawn glow of the Taj Mahal,

the love of the man who’s picture I took

with his wife, hours earlier, Indians both, and

his insistence that I be photographed

with his love before a museum housing

ghosts of the world’s artists – the work

of grace’s fleeting moments.

Is this not the point? To love?

Even for an hour?

For 1/60 of a second?

Or on a cab ride,

our lives speeding forward,

creating love with a kiss, a picture,

a hug with a cabdriver at departure’s curb?

 

Los Angeles to Las Vegas, 1958

 

It’s the bird I’m thinking of,

this thing of flight, as

I’m driving my girl to Vegas.

The one thing she wanted,

its cage propped against the seat,

wind whipping its feathers,

a few days ago in Playa del Rey

where we met blind.

 

We’re minutes away from marriage

and this white bird comes to mind

who lives inside a cage,

while she takes my hand

at the Chapel of the Bells.

With this ring I lift the latch,

and the bird flies free.

 

We will live our consequences:

this thing in her belly,

a seed that bird

might have eaten as a

blessing before taking flight.

We will lick the wounds and

secrets of youth’s folly.

We will drive home

to the Playa and our

feathers will be full.

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