The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Deborah Ager


Afternoons were spent on the stoop
eating mangos drenched with Tabasco sauce

and listening for the pop pop of guns.
Neighbors nodded at the Guatemalan
selling bootleg merengue tapes from a car

and knew to skirt Bus Turnaround Park
where October pumpkins were bought  

to see who slices the best grin.
Cars sucked uncollected trash in their wakes.
Curtains moved like red water in the windows.


The night brimmed with maybes.
Sharp leaves shuddered in September's
rickety wind. There was a heartless cat

that carried a katydid in her mouth oh so gently.
There were autumn nights that slipped away
in displays of red so fiery I wished the world

could roll away with the sun⎯just like that.
One time a truck grazed the sedan's door,
then⎯scent of rosemary sauteed in oil,

something my sister said that flattened wind,
curls of wood smoke, angles of January light
flooding rooms where sleep strayed, restless.

No one wants to hear stories of near misses.
Those who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge
and lived never wanted to try dying again;

they claimed to have killed the darkness
and to have risen into a second, better life.


Let it be Miami, Baltimore, New York.
Let fruits of the osage-orange tree crack.  
Do you smell their acrid perfume soiling air?

Let wind shovel the clouds aside
until they grey the west with rain.
Let it be the city of love, of heartache,

of longing. Let rain pelt me.
Let sidewalks buckle under you,
and I will ask what is it like to die.

Let me introduce this husband
I love. Let me show you this son
who is not to be. At night you're here;

the shadows move in the corners,
and I believe in them like a god.
This is the dark. This is my hand

extended to touch your arm,
passing through your ghostly body.

Copyright 2006-7 by Cook Communication