The Afterlove


Chittering cricket in the city, wake

the sleeper eyes agog, double take;

thunder rumbling the apartment above,

rhythms and rapid moans of fumbling love.

An ashtray smouldering on the night-stand,

he takes a cigarette in trembling hand

and tries to think of nothing, traffic lights

flashing dim through the window, up the heights

and rain falling in crackling snake whispers

while he thumbs his lighter the switch hiss-purrs

and fire flashes, a tantalizing tongue;

a drag of the cigarette, his head hung

with heavy thoughts, shadows, old memories

from a former life while the ember flees

from the last bit of cigarette, his face

veiled, the light gone out from that lonely place.

The cricket chirps.  A question?  Or a plea?

He does not answer it, but silently

stares toward a photo that is face-down

of a woman with curly hair, a crown

like sunlight itself, now his world but noir,

that woman gone.  Somewhere else.  Somewhere far.

The climax above gives way to silence

he feels the throb of emptiness, the sense

that Afterlove is like afterlife: death.

It settles in.  He breathes black plumes of breath.

The Afterlove is like the afterlife: unknown

as he listens to a cricket, alone.



The carts rumble and creak, the train slowing

as it passes through the black hills, going

toward the city, and beyond the hills;

lightning flashes as she awakes; she feels

alone, the man beside her a stranger

in her bed, the wedding ring a change her

head accepted, but not her heart awake

in the insomniac country, no break

from day to day, but at night the disguise

slips off and she goes to the window, eyes

seeking the highway and that haunting hint

of what could be, what was, of what he meant

when he sent that anonymous letter

that was blank, unmarked, as if to get her

to fill it with the words she wanted said,

but which, like the wind, could never be read

except with searching fingers now the train

rattles in the black breast of the hills, rain

falling somewhere faraway, on dark glass

like the pane before her as the nights pass

to a cricket chorus among the woods

while dreamers lay beneath nocturnal hoods.

The man exhales, and rolls to his side,

but does not wake, reaching for his new bride,

clutching her vacancy; her depression;

it has been weeks since their last love session

and gloom brings rain, at last, to the window

trickling and salty, sparkling in the glow

of passing headlights along the highway

while she wonders whether or not to stay.

Her heart hitchhikes from car to truck to car,

riding the rainy road, traveling far

out to the city, to the heights and lights

while she stays here for these Afterlove nights


His black snakeskin raincoat slithered
as it dragged along slick, neon streets,
its sibilant song scarcely heard
above the thunderstorm’s manic drumbeats.

Standing in her bathrobe alone,
she smoked a cigarette by the window;
the skyline lit when lightning shone,
her green eyes blinded by the fork-tongued glow.

He passed beneath the storm unseen,
slithering through serpentine streets aflood;
his fanged love was a thing unclean,
a brood of vipers nesting in his blood.

Looking through glass and feeling old
as she counted the purse of silver coins,
his love gleamed so false and so cold—
her robe parted, snakes coiling in her loins.

Noir And Napalm

The night is black coffee— no sugar or cream—
and she appears in the window, a wakeful dream;
her sinuous silhouette beyond curtained shade,
backlit by candid candles that flicker and fade,
the crook of her spine as curved as a snake
and her bustline full, her figure lethal in make.
Below, the red light street lusts lustrously in rain
and a man in a fedora staggers down the lane,
his trenchcoat hiding a priceless photo portfolio,
his body wet from rain and a bleeding bullet hole.
The building is a bordello of shadow and of light,
the staircase rising into the rumor that is midnight
while insomniacs and sleepwalkers idle and drone
like soldiers, with shellshock, wandering a war zone.
She opens her door to him and he stumbles in,
asking her if Lucifer ever stank of so much sin
and throwing the photos onto her Babylonian bed—
sitting down, with a groan, his fedora falling from his head.
The photos are black and white and stained scarlet
with the passion of his spilling heart for his harlot.
She lights a cigarette, blowing smoke at his concerns,
then kisses the bullet hole with fire until it burns—
not to cauterize the wound, but to see if he can still feel
after all of these years in a world so monochrome and unreal.
“Was it worth it?” she asks him, dabbing her ashes into his hat.
He speaks of Vietnam, but she is a distracted, fickle cat.
She pushes him back onto the bed and straddles his waist,
her nakedness as stark and waking as the blood he can taste.
Undoing his clothes, she mounts him, her holster to his gun,
and smiles like a cat having caught a mouse on the run.
As she gyrates and clings to him like a vulture of love
he listens to the rain falling, like tears, on the rooftop above.
She is loving him to death, he knows, with each grind
of her predatory pelvis, juicing him like the rind
of a blood orange, colored like the flames of her candles,
and so he releases his hands from her swaying love-handles.
He grabs and tosses his hat at the candles near the curtain,
knocking them over, the tongues of fire climbing as if certain
they could reach heaven by rising from this doomed city,
like devils wanting to escape hell and beg for pity
even as they clamber over one another to reach the ceiling
and scramble together, victims unto victims, all unfeeling.
When she sees the flames, she hisses and tries to pull away,
but he holds her to him, in the bloody bed where he lay.
Seeing the look in his eyes, her scowl softens to a smile
and she continues to make love to him, tenderly, while
the flames circle the room, burning away all night—
all the shadows of the past, cast in the garish neon light.

The barking of black dogs, like thunder, is thereafter lost
beneath the heavy downpour, the sleepless city glossed
with sultry neon lights and angel tears from heaven
while devils set fire to their sins, each night—Eleven to Seven.