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David P. Kozinski, two poems

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,

silent moves

and lips

that set my whistle

for a long ride

on a whipsaw road.

In the great room

at The Breakers we take

stately breakfasts,

lots of slippery surfaces

and rubber-meets-the-road

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.

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