Alexis Quinlan
Here, Only

Because it’s anger’s hot slap I trust
like the dim wooded road to grandmother’s

lies I stoked your flares cadmium like a crazy hippie
tablecloth with wild pink steam after the rinse like motley sky

shreds strewn by an open hand swiping at firmament,
forgotten god raring his retreat.

He hadn’t gotten his way and he was going to take
the damned house down with him. You won’t get

your way, either, not this time, not since I’ve hop-scotched
off that path beaten by four mendacious generations.

As the castle crumbles I lean back back back
yoga-arching to make like the tie-dyed dome and

laugh all redly at you, little boy, who never saw how
I don’t care whether it’s sweet or sour,

bleak or bright – only here, only now.

Why I Lose My Wallet. In Paris in 1983

The corner of a long bar for breakfast –
I liked a bar for breakfast in Paris, hot black
coffee and a croissant while the man ate
more. I had a bull’s appetite in those days,
but I was secret as a thief. I did ugly
things, things you don’t want to know,
to get rid of the evidence.

To our left, the other thief – rouged cheeks and
jeweled fingers, heavy, garish rings on withered
ghostly long and working, his fingers,
busy at something, changing, or
smoking, we were all smoking

in Paris in 1983. The dollar was strong
like a bull, and I was right in the middle
of away, it was a pudding, away,
and I was the prize. No. Yes. Something
horrid had been cooked, something
anyone could smell except a boyfriend,
not that boyfriend, anyway. The old queen
sniffed it out though I shifted on the barstool
to hide it which tells you how naïve I was at 21.

Back in the hotel room I saw right
away, the boyfriend saw, too, and back
in the café – Ah non, madamoiselle! Dommage!
The thief gone, the customers had never
seen him before, and the barman’s steady look.

So everybody knew. I pretended I
knew, too, and maybe I already suspected
the crooked root of it, the world like knotted
fingers of an old queen garish and working
hungry certain never to stop.