Three Stages of Roxy

If only I could remember Roxy now, how she felt the night we met at Chapeau Rouge.  French name, Hungarian bar.  Outside: dewy cobblestones shining under hollow cones of streetlight, hemmed in by one-lane sidewalks.  Inside: a room packed shoulder to shoulder, people clutching pints and blowing streams of smoke into the ceiling fans like howling pack animals.  Gas lamps flicker across the wall dressing, silks of pink and burgundy with raised garlands and gold brocade.  

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Penny Lions

As a child she gazed at the penny lions, slotted metal creatures that disappeared behind hidden folding doors.  The scene was made merry by the bulbs that lined the viewing window, illuminating the arcade:

Eggs glowing warmly, a carnival dream 
with calliope score and 
dashed with kaleidoscope measures, 
a panorama edged by death. 

Soon this stage would become nothing, a dusty relic in the collection of some fantastically wealthy Long Island queen.

The empty field, trampled grass.  
(Nothing and alone)

 

Ghost House Tulips

A pale bedroom, dry and lifeless
the shell of a brass bed, patina and dust
Scabs of plaster, skeleton lathe.

Mirror at the top of the stairs
a motionless reflection
unchanged since it briefly held 
a frail woman's back 
descending.

She was beautiful once,
now she is outside.

The shutters fell from their brackets
long ago, leaving paint less faded 
where once they hung.

The old willow
now too dry to weep
rustles and creaks in a
cold October wind.

Around back, near the cellar door,
now beaten and rotten and hanging agape,
is a flock of tulips,
bulbs she planted with a hope
for recurring joy.

 

progress

the voice began at dawn
like the first breeze 
rustling the cat tails, and
in a wispy lilt, she said

"the austerity of your spirit
is so easily dissolved by
the piercing distractions
of your modernity," then

a still silence fell
and the bullrush bobbed
as her echo faded
and the warm tones of daybreak
gave way to slate blue
and the rushing engines
of a distant interstate rose,

calling from an unavoidable horizon.