Black Cat Bone
“’Cause I’m a voodoo child.”
- Jimi Hendrix
Big houses turn me on.
Under the table
in her denim skirt
and dark tights
she owns a cat’s slow,
that set my whistle
for a long ride
on a whipsaw road.
In the great room
at The Breakers we take
lots of slippery surfaces
at a canter. Sunlight strains through doors
that open on pulsing masts
and stunted grass, the sighing sails
that wring most of the Hoodoo
from my hands
and leave the bitter bone.
We had trust and a future
that opened like a hatbox
and sounded like a bass drum,
took our time at New Year’s brunch
at the brightest hotel in Spokane.
Half the people
in Tabbi’s hometown,
so far from anywhere else,
knew I was turning 35
before I heard their names.
Her hair grew back
wild from the chemo, the color
of bourbon and smoke.
Her arms, silky
in their ebony opera gloves,
held and pulled me like a tide
before her nails opened gashes
that stranded us on an unfamiliar shore.
Our Flimflam Affair
All the tumblers want to tilt when you’re young
and waiting is long as it will ever be.
I met her accidentally; smoking the kind
you can’t get any more, in charge
of taking the money
to the window. It’s easy to find somebody
who wants to help.
Wear a paint-streaked shirt
and good shoes and it won’t take
an exceptional ear or a dog’s nose
to sniff this one out. Establish position
in the middle of the room and wait.
Brilliant days she had a thick jacket
mostly tic or treat, mostly the kind of soft deals
that left them their dignity
if that’s how they thought of it.
She couldn’t draw a lick
or a strait that wasn’t crooked.
She learned to see in the dark and drive
with no hands, recite lines from old movies
as if she made them up. I just did by speaking them.
The sound of laughter would ring
from a long neck knocked back, pearls palpating
smoother skin, reedy fingers combing
through a halo of ringlets.
Laws were memorized, the cases
that stacked up to them.
We could have practiced in any city
with a port, a park, chimneys
spelling out smutty jokes.
There were collections in a safe
deposit box I never saw, only the key
that caught light where it could.
There were ships on their way with skilled people
in containers bigger than my office.
I’d tell her what she’d get in her stocking,
in the kind of paper
that says an artist took this so hang onto it.
It’ll be worth a pot some day.
David P. Kozinski is the 2018 recipient of a fellowship for poetry, Established Professional category, from the Delaware Division of the Arts. His first full-length book of poems,Tripping Over Memorial Day was published by Kelsay Books and is available on Amazon.