The heart tats
by Nanette Rayman
If my body seems both supple and potential
now and again, getting nothing you’d dreamed of does this—
I smoke, bedroom-faced, my heart an air raid,
all battings and panic, the fatal flaw that keeps you all away,
sadly away on the 6 train and the bookshop,
while the sun’s lunge does nothing to skew the deck
of fate, the stroke of July, the sky spread limb-to-limb by gutting clouds
over city streets where I still search for a job. My busy body’s lithe
as a ballerina, half on the sidewalk, half in the crook of a mugger’s arm,
one bolt away from eating the scrim to the next world, as I did
once at nineteen. So much beauty, he’d leered, behind his Buick wheel, how
a starched nurse had to hold my hand for the pelvic, the stitches.
How many times I’ve told you it was a friend, a woman who told me
to get in his car—he’s cool. Inside old grief, memory grouses, it expands galaxies.
Inside my sweet white white sundress, my heart tats and now and again is free.
So, darlings who look and then look away—subconsciously aware—of my play,
do not press me or collar me, enter through the porch door
with itinerary in-hand, how you plan to scale the highest lights,
seduce me now with cowboy feet, purple roses spotted with dew
while I slip quietly out of my dress, ligature dog-gone.
Lost to Casper, Sleet, Snowballs, Tension, Top Gun
The vast orange fire blossoming in your flesh
proxy-sleets in my gut. Around you is the tension
wizard where the space between is intricate igneous swirls—
strobe lights, stage lights in the slough around a fort
adorned and adored by top gun carcasses—the color of
Collared Treepees. The chatter-alarm sounds unnoticed
in this borderless refurbished land, deriding
you at the bend of Southern Boulevard, hiding in the sealed
Laundromat as a front, wayfaring at the speed of snowballs
through Kibbles ‘n Bits rooms, your breath Hubba Bubba—
That is your soul now, Casper—your soul always
Arrière on my fingers, crumpled snowball and lost—you
were so blistered, broken, bellicose, honing your top gun bad
man vagabundo body into baggy. You walk so slow, so slow, down
Kelly Street, yet you disappear like Houdini in the scraps
of Hood. No headlights can find you and the plangent
sounds of death gurgling from your pus-erupting lips—and you
—a bullet I would love to talk to again one day.
Slowly, Slowly, Alive—South Bronx
This is not the neighborhood for you, my ex-friend said. Played with a French fry,
eyed through the coffee shop’s sun-collared window a murder of crowing guys
storm-trooping down the street as I lit a smoke forgetting I was in AmeriKa.
Ex has no idea she’s a dog. Turning me away did not become her. She had set out
flowered tea cups for coffee the day I wanted to leave my husband. She folded
rosy napkins and clicked her teeth. He’s a rat, better without him. The heart
of a rat—how she hovers over the menu as the living ghost of a beauty
queen, once, lost mother-never-had with forests of Buttonball trees
Port de Bras living and living and living in my heart.
Remember the rent spent on that drug? I remember locks
changed and my husband mud-caked and kaleidoscoped in his own
sky with tears, meadows of dandelions and violets dying in his ribs. Planted
urchin on the street begging to come home. I remember looking for work
being laughed at for saying I have what it takes, I remember relenting as a fool
and bringing my blistered man home and I remember hands around
my throat as Bazooka-blown gratitude. I remember her turning me down
when I asked to stay one night.
On our way out Ex caught my hand with her hand. Placed cash. Sneered
away from the crows coming in. Let’s get outta here! I flinched. Not Nephilim,
she uttered grabbing for her own smoke—Merit 100. Take care of yourself
she said through swirly rings, the chain-link fences, the oily land of tire
shops. Stinks of middle earth, she said. I’m going to live, like this.
Nanette Rayman, poetry books: Shana Linda Pretty Pretty, Project: Butterflies, two-time Pushcart nominee, Best of Net, DZANC Best of Web, winner Glass Woman Prize. Publications: The Worcester Review, Sugar House Review (newpages.com), Stirring’s Steamiest Six, gargoyle, Little Rose Magazine, isthmus, Scarlet Leaf Review, Red Wolf Journal, Seventh Wave, The Scarlet Leaf Review.