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Ajax Kallistrate

living room city

3 hands synchronize
wait! wait!
Western Avenue
Crossgates Mall
it's the 905!
the 10 stalls out
and restarts
puff! puff!
of wind-blown leaves
and sweet tobacco backdrop
to a hacking cough
as crows fly
east to west
like black pepper flakes
over green-painted brick
and street lamps wink out
one by one
happy friday! happy friday!
cold enough for you?
having fun yet?
living the dream?
stuffed office
air and two feet between
door to door to door
when i have the moon
overhead and icy breath
in my lungs and 
the sun like a golden
dollop between clouds
and i can't feel my feet
but i can feel the blood
pump! pump!
in my heart
and the pinprick of
Venus stays in my eyes
beneath eight hours of
electric lights
and a cart full of
snacks! snacks!
fools for primates
with color vision
as if toys were
true blue berries
and grapes in
green and red and black
and sweetest spice of
honeycrisp and gala and fuji
on my lips like
sunshine over snow
and why draw the blinds
down on that deepest sky
on trampled grass
on birch trees in winter
on space
on wind-drawn whirls of
exhaust
on acorns rolling underfoot
as night falls
while i fall
asleep
on the bus
in the dark
on the walk
home
in the silent
snow fallen peace
of my living room
city

February 2020

little nugget

little nugget is
what she called
some prospective
offspring
swaddled in
lush affection.
i daydream on
the words.
little
nugget
some minuscule
oblong shape
that reshapes
the future.
not mine,
of course.
or mine only
by a degree
removed.
or two, really.
grand
mother
i've never
been either,
of course.
…but to hold that
little nugget
in my arms
(do they sleep?)
safe and secure
(if it squirms
i'll return it
to its mother)
the product of
my dearest boy…
a father
a dad
a stranger who
lived at home
sometimes, who
crushed the breath
from me, who
ridiculed me,
mocked me,
slapped me,
threw me into
a corner of the
kitchen, laughing
(he wouldn't
remember) because
i couldn't fight back.
i didn't fight back.
i don't fight
a father
a dad
the unexamined assumptions
of third-wave feminism
plated my abraded
flesh at fixed points
"Men don't want to be fathers."
my armor in perpetuity
over scars of
rejection
abandonment
dislocation
the primal fear of
being exposed
helpless
devoured by wolves.
thirty years later
bright eyes met
across the gap of
a generation
(he could have been
my son) and i can
no longer retreat
unchallenged
to the cave of
intellectual
authority and
sacrosanct belief.
a man
emotionally invested in
a fetus
unborn, aborted.
he could have been--
he still wants
to be.
words would have left
me unpierced, dull darts
against an armored
heart. but in the
depths of those eyes,
in those unfiltered
pools of honesty, i saw
reflected the
broken bud of
grief.
maybe he loved me once,
i'll never know. a man's
world is encumbered by
a silence he bears to
the grave, his eyes
creased by a folded
bruise of unspoken
loss, a wound trodden
upon by careless wives,
daughters, girlfriends,
partners, an unblotted
stigmata that blooms
through my own life,
weaving father to son,
son to brother,
brother to friend.
i understand, for one
brief moment, the shadow
cast by female privilege
over long years of unhappy
womanhood. i want to
say 'i'm sorry' but find
i cannot forgive.
i meditate instead
upon the words
little
nugget
and imagine some
minuscule oblong
shape that reshapes
the past.
(maybe he loved me,
once.)

February 5, 2021

grateful

how would i describe gratefulness in a world of
glut
overflowing
glowing winterized
tires shiny
glass
splinters
under every
industrialized
finger waving
an inhalation
of never
ending
noise
when i walk through the door
to old linoleum
pocked with cigarette
burns
greasy smear of
road salt from
last night's boots
where i'll lay
this night's boots
in the watery light
of an ordinary bulb
and i hear your voice
along the blank wall
as yet invisible
damp denim
bumped
by a fuzzy face
i reach down
i look up
enclosed
in that space
my heart knows
no loftier
step
no broader
vista
no more cherished
resting place
than a home built
moment by moment
on the jigsaw of
risk
that marks the high
water line of love
in a world of ten
thousand glittering
compensations for every
tiny death of
the heart in
an unheard of
unspoken to
desensitized
wound
healed
in a word
when i walk through that door.

February 3, 2021

a crow never

a crow never calls in vain
a crow calls a crow
a friend one or two
or three
times
together
over streets
of intersecting
lines of
communication
in four dimensions
over time
space
sound
social networks
an electronic spider
on a silken string
we see
and are seen
in a flash of
patterns
against a gray
backdrop
of dilated
consequence
in liquid motion
of wings
we fly
to.

February 3, 2021

Elijah

It is
the purest slice
of heaven
to share
a household
with you to
dream a dream
with you to
build a life
with you in
a kitchen
without a table
we're content to
sit on the floor.
"I can't wait to see you."
Dazzled.
Humbled.
We share a meal,
a game, a show,
a movie, an anime.
We talk, debate,
(the intensity of
those eyes),
and there's
that smile
like a burst
of sunshine,
and that laugh
that makes me
smile, and
we hug
and--
You cough and I hold
my breath. Are you
warm enough? How did
you sleep? Do you
need a blanket, a
glass of water?
All is right with
the world only when
all is right with
you.
Am I a freak?
Probably.
Weirdo,
to love some
other mothers'
child.
Love, complete.
"You are family."
I cried on the bus
but I always cry
on the bus.
I'm a faulty
faucet a
weeping
willow a
salty
subject to a
menopause mess.
Twenty five, you say?
I'll raise you
forty-six and
childless, an
old spinster,
a nobody
to anybody.
"What if I get used to this?"
I laughed. "To having friends?"
You replied, as we walked
side by side, "You'll build a life
outside your trauma."
Speechless.
Graced by your wisdom.
Grateful for your friendship,
your company, your trust.
You are my honest friend,
my Millennial bestie.
You are a strong young man
who drew an old maid
from a deep well.
You were a good kid
in a bad situation.
You were worth listening to.
You were worth protecting.
You were worth loving.
Every moment, every day.
You still are.
Believe it.

January 27, 2021

2020

how can i convey what it was like
to learn to love at forty six?
in a storage room
in a throne room
listening and
listened to
i spoke
'i was not allowed to love
it was not safe to love
i need to love
you need to be loved'
my kids
my Millennials
my Gen Zees
my heart
broke open
when we
met at Moses
my best friend
my honest friend
(you saw me
i saw you)
motherless
child
childless
mother
i swam up through
oxytocin eyes
and breathed
in twenty-
five years of grief
bridged by the
backbone of
a titan
tapped out
in words that spilled
and spilled into
a pool
a stream
a river
an ocean
a thundering
heart
beat
folded into
steel
to pierce the
hooded eyes of the
world
in a little city
in a park
in a studio
in a storage room
in a throne room
in free fall
i opened my arms
and was embraced by a
life worth living
by a family worth loving
in the year of the virus
in the best year
of my life.

January 2021

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