March 8th, 2011


(no subject)


They play at love, as one would play at chess
with move and countermove across a board
of squares and lines they think they know. Ignored,
some warning signs. A moment of distress

when one smart gambit falters, and a tut
of bored impatience when a quip falls flat
that should have charmed. And neither senses that
their breathing has grown fast. The door is shut

all audience has gone. One move too far
might cause a fool's mate. Both are scared the game
might end as othera had. Neither can claim
the victory. The best such endgames are

ones where you throw the pieces in the air
defeated wipe your tears on victor's hair.

And what may be the first of a Hans Christian Anderson sequence

Red Shoes

Outside her door she found the cedar box
locked with a silver key.The shoes within
had heels five inches high and made so thin
and sharp it hurt to look at them. She knocks

hard at the sole, and feels the shank inside
the hardest steel. Toe box a set of rings
of light red leather, and the colour sings
to her of delicate high steps. She died

of wearing them. The red shoes made her dance
out of her life and out into the wild
she left her loving husband and her child
and whirled and pirouetted in a trance

Poisoned by blistered toes, in fever moans.
Filigree heels snap off and break her bones.

For International Women's Day


Her father put her out into the snow.
Beats her, but leaves no bruises. Has a plan
someday soon he will sell her to some man
and has not touched her. Sees the fading glow

of the two coals the chestnut seller left
when he went home. Without them she'll be cold
She looks as if she's five or six years old,
is slightly older. Knows it is a theft

from father when she sets a match alight
to see the visions dancing in the flame
of palaces, of kingdoms with no name.
And then again. The flame against the night

feels like a mother. When it fades, she sighs.
With snow as comforter, she sleeps and dies.