poem index

Reality Series

Tina Cane
I

today
on Sixth Avenue

sports coat-
junkie-man
on the same oldschool
skateboard as ever  ragged

wheels but a beautiful
deck, wood  smooth

as if the plank had
been tumbled in the sea

his right leg
a manic pendulum

skinny-looking
but strong

under thin
jeans  hard to believe

he's still
around

after all
these years


II

nine days
into thirty

and  already
a gray hair

that won't sit down
that springs up

from under
my palm

in the morning
in the mirror

a kind
of private joke

time marching on


III

once my  bedroom  
caught fire

in summer
orange flames

floated up
like feathers

exotic  hypnotic
messages

I stood staring
several seconds

when the lights
went out I found

the dog but the cat
would not come

from behind
the mantle mirror

fragile as china  she
knew she wouldn't

make it  in the flashing
darkness I saw

my smoky
silhouette

backing
out of the room


IV

"The Giglio (structure)
was built in Paulinus's honor...
After his death the carrying
of the Giglio was dedicated
to the sacred penance for the souls
in purgatory and the remission
of sins of the living."

        -112th Annual Feast
        of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
        and Saint Paulinus


V

in the bathroom
on 10th Avenue      pink tile

and a view of Hell's Kitchen
my mother pierced

my ears with a needle
and thread  I cried

in rage but later
admired the loose red

loops until each
wound had healed

and was studded
with a dot of gold


VI

My mother's mother told
me not to wash my hair

on those days
on those days

she said shaking
her head  the natural

balance of oils
in the scalp

is disturbed by water
its atomic opposite

that pale lather
strips and the sweet

masking scent of Breck
can throw the body off

throw the body off
she said don't

throw your body
like that


VII

106 men
in a village

were taken
to a barn

and shot
last month

an old man
in a wool cap

told
the story

to the News
putting

each man's
photograph

on the grass
for the camera

he said the names
of the men

not stopping
even as

the lens
moved away 


VIII

a friend once
booked a red-eye

flight first-class
from Helsinki

in the middle
of the night   leaving

her sleeping husband
unaware   sardonic

as ever
as they lifted

her to the stretcher
so she wouldn't miss

the plane  seat on the aisle
meal intact

cut tumbler
of ice glinting

bright next to mini
cutlery on the plastic tray

frantic the whole way
making calls to old friends

from 30,000 feet
she tried to trip the Queen

of Sweden on her way
to the bathroom

time froze
as she watched

the Queen fumble
for her crown  failing

to fall down or find
humor she vanished

through a folding door
marked vacant


IX

At Long Last, A New Sun
With a Family of Planets

       -The New York Times, April 16, 1999

Copyright © Tina Cane. Used with permission.

Tina Cane

Tina Cane

by this poet

poem
               Anna Akhmatova burned
her poems and the light of Madrid was like water

at La Latina luncheonette I ate a cup of chocolate
and a motor oil churro 

every day for a week
recovering

                      ...the cherry bomb alley that was our street
Hotel Chelsea ablaze
poem
In the Sixties
Nabokov switched

from ink to eraser-
topped pencil

on index cards  a box
of cards for Ada  a box

of cards for dreams
whose "curious features"

include "erotic tenderness
and heart-rending enchantment"

in one draft
he traded "stillness and heat"

for "silence, a burning