by Tom Sheehan
Letter to My Sweet-smelling Woman Waiting
Ah sweet marrow ganglia matter of mind what inviolable pleasure
brings me to my typer this time of night in the moonspill mooncream
what draws me this way and that from my outer to my inner am I all
questions in this mushrooming quiet and dark of night this sound of
dead foxes hanging thinly with leaves the den not returned to mother
hunted while hunting and dogged down this deep of night this dread
of sleeping while my mind can still move its way over the wave of
things can extrapolate conjure figment articulate touch smell know
once again the musk I could die for right now this instant this eternity
for my nares have the memory of fingers and the dry pulp beneath my
nails is your residue of love I cannot manicure away ashes of our fire.
I see suck words on lips I see the drip of syllables phonetics of some word
rock buried in you as deeply as mine sunless and miles deep past the six
hundred miles an hour that our impulses travel from mind to extremities of
selves to fingers of satisfaction to fingers knowledge to lips say to eyes move
to pits of breast set into teeth like caraway seeds (oh I love the working memory
as my tongue worries a pit like a cavity beginning –I form words for you at the
touch) what tangible ghost of nights past is near me touching like grass or a
spider web not quite there who the spirit travels its hands and lips and words
against my ears my self my all as if Chapman’s Homer has its speech and
touches to me I, I am alone atop Darien this abominable night though I have
shares and am shared oh shared by madness oh stung by stars and simple grass.
Oh, listen believe me daughter of words holder of the precious word rock
I am moonmaster starriser suncatcher burster of cometing yea a farmer plug-
ging word songs but a listener of your night watches walker of your dreams
the evil-doer doing done that far thin voice of a star moving on you oh dream
death at morning light Ah it is lonely the fox is dead I hear the dogs cry above
the clash of leaves the horn empties its wail on wind the den not returned to
the young wait cold and hungry the burrow walls close in in cool pneumatics
the ferret comes slowly at first teasing his mouth waters saliva runs oozing like
sperm his back arches he tingles Oh love I’d love to come to your mouth to have
your lips holding me is volcanic thought furnacing the blade of your tongue is
ever merciless why are you so unkind to me why cut memory’s cut do my veins
intrigue you my capillaries crawl like others crawl except when you loose your
tongue You are mad! mad! but I bid you I bid you come at me once all mouth,
all imagination all energy I would know no other night nor own one I am doomed
pusher of thought darer of deeds worder of words I am doomed who such lip when
such thigh take the angle of my eye lest I lose that nearing breast bring your mouth
where you’ve caressed use your tongue as gallant blade my private parts to invade.
I moonmaster master of words roper of stars brander of herds of Pegasus flock beg
your tongue talk let it be known beneath your bone I love your curves and wanting
nerves Sleep comes now sifting through me pushing its delights into the barest ends
of me the torture of a sugar remembered thighs intersect triangle of nerves coming
away slowly as a rusty sled downhill excruciatingly lovely from the pitch of parting
Once I shot at a doe and oh! I missed! I missed!
Getting Crushed That Side of Midnight,
Two Roads Taken One at A Time,
Dimensions of A barrier,
And always it is this Gift-giver, this woman from the
other side of midnight, this darkness that is not taken
from. And she comes in pieces, trajectories, soft angles
and planes, curves from a world galore I look for in
this, her classroom of touch, taste, and sleek terrors
wherein she says, Hello, Two-Dream Tommy, here
are dimensions of a barrier, the two roads you must
take one at a time if you’re meeting me and getting
crushed that side of midnight. Oh, is she north of me
or south, breathing yet or not, an image impossible
to see, yet I would bet on her on either road I find.
Lo, I speak out to her and dream of her, spraddled,
urgent, these two parts of unspeakable darkness.
Do they have to mean or what become?
It is more than geography hugging me, but what
deliciousness in the wind in January, trees stripped
to the rawest dimensions, oh bare bark that’s borne.
On edges of this electric road, crows by dozens the
only intruders in full dress shadows, a three-day-old
snow crusting to gray, three marvelous, mysterious
wires hanging as if they knot ships together at low
tide, weighted with more than a sense of ice, sing a
song through the keen teeth of a day going down to
its knees in her own perfection. Absolve me, love.
The song is in your mouth, the notes are mine.
The last prayer is for you turning away from me,
the host of imagery found on a forgotten road,
your eyes shadows of a ditch done with digging,
your mouth one dead tree in the morning light,
your skin high on each cheek tired as the fields
beyond, angles of hands and fingers distraught
as roots from an old pine scratching for life less
than an inch deep in soil, where odors bury them-
selves in mere cosmetic measure, softest gesture.
The song is wolfish, high pitched, remnant at odds
in the pack. Roadside strands, thick as old hawsers,
carrying theater lights, marquees alphabet-bright in
upper case, library lamps under which notes are
passed, the grocer’s late display behind a six-foot
window, fire alarms and call boxes with blue lights
like taillights of a ’51 Ford, carry on how divas do
their derring-do, octave and platform above all else,
the song that’s in your mouth., the notes are mine.
I remember you before, the dawn coming up in hazel
eyes after we had buried ourselves, your hands heavy
as chocolate, how you walked your willingness about
me in morning’s parade throwing remembrance out-
ward, residues falling off your fond lip the way a petal
bleeds spring, sweet Scheherazade or salty Salome,
love’s finer fingertips out on their endless parades,
fiery fluids finding such fingernails, and crusting up
unobstructed an artless elevation of rare dominion,
oh, that music’s mound of insurmountable support,
and your bone-fed field, stable of all the symmetries.
Are they heard downhill, flat side, down where this
strange road ends, or begins, a dynamo bellied into
earth the way a bear buries in all winter, this old man
writing a journal just past his latest midnight? These
songs you sing, these notes of mine not for grocers or
ticket takers or lovers embattled by scented, pressing
time. Even bears are spared this wizardry, of songs the
wind owns at lips of wires, arias heaved offstage from
spider webs slung between Erector-set steel skeletons
like lapsed and forgotten messages along the road, or
compliments remembered in the quiet hours between
places lit up with odors. Thin-mil songs, wired notes
stretched out in steel and nervous alloys, high-minded
and high winded, humming the universe and music of
the sphere, falsetto, bird level, dog-sharpened, I swear
they transcend all insulation technicalities.
All things folded into you, diameter of skirt, pickets
of pleats in a circular fence, and a gate you opened
into the reservoir of your soul, silence a gasp at my
thumb clutch, my fingers locked upon the mound.
Sunday morning there is a zoo with an empty bench
and a tree calcium white and a skin of iron and blue
feathers in the air thick as snow. My hand reaching
one hundred feet of asphalt to touch one breast you
jettison for me into the trimmed holy air after Mass
after kneeling and saying my name under your breath,
and the commands, arch’s silent and oft commands;
How you do that again and again.
When you’re young and shadowy, alone in a lakeside
summer camp, wind through a midnight screen, rain
its brazen complement, belong in the same irreverent
choir; voice sharpening the wind itself, honing to a
point those cold stridors, the caterwauling rigid metal
ribbons exhaust upon charitable and dark rivers of air,
another place of shadows along these shaded roads,
where you’ve left less than madness but your music,
the notes are mine.
Monday is a day full of sin. The taut white skin of you
comes at me like balloons. I am afraid I will explode
if I touch again fragile air pockets you have made of
breasts. It is as if your left breast is an anchor that I
should grasp, the right a mooring for my travels, the
dark desperation legs enfold is a ghost beating itself
into my mind, a facsimile of abandonment, a deep and
ever-intriguing retreat, a thing nearly as paramount
as you, or more, the way you measure out degrees.
Now and then, orchestrated dull and basso cantante,
a tower vibrates and threatens to topple, its wired
voices plunging with roots and footings where trees
empty their emptiness. The last sound made, the
ultimatum investing the lolling cables, is unheard,
the lovely notes lost in the endless void of mind,
the song that’s in your mouth, the notes I lose.
I end myself up buried not in your leg warmth but in
Tuesday night’s dream. Your hips assail me, your
hands implore, there are angles present in shadows.
From what sea does this dampness come and abide,
what evolution turns your saline chemistry to this,
bids me bury my mouth alive, the libretto moving me
onward and outward?: Now you know what I love.
I walk here between the songs, watching rabbits, sleek
on snow, whitened for the last resort, paddle-footed,
snow-shoed for their abrupt run at living, alerted of
a hawk tasting them from thermal undertakings, and
find myself ready for the noisy adjectives wires spill
overboard, seeing the fork out in front of me, seeking.
There is a curse at your fingertips. I swear I am taken.
The far away rivers, mountains melting, dams letting
loose an absolute awe, accord their dulcet undertones.
There is a curse at your fingertips. I swear I am taken.
by the weight you bear upon me. Oh, love, on your
knees, absolve me.
Tom Sheehan’s Epic Cures, short stories from Press 53, won a 2006 IPPY Award. A Collection of Friends, from Pocol Press, was nominated for Albrend Memoir Award. This Rare Earth & Other Flights his fifth collectionof poetry), was issued by Lit Pot Press in 2003. He has nine Pushcart and two Million Writer nominations, a Silver Rose Award from American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) and three published mysteries. He served in 31st Infantry Regiment, Korea, 1951, and retired in 1990. He meets again soon for a lunch/gab session with pals, the ROMEOs, Retired Old Men Eating Out (91, 79, 78, 77). He can hardly wait. His pals will each have one martini, he’ll have three beers, and the waitress will shine on them.
Editor's note: Both of these prose poems previously appeared in Lit Pot.