by Carol Alexander
Red plums are the bodega’s daily special, at rot’s very verge.
Wednesday crowds flow over the hump
of bridge & tunnel traffic, delirious greasy smoke. The plums sag, well fingered.
Leaning from unscreened windows, children dump dishwater
on raku cement. At Greenwood, Brooklyn to Slidell, the drydocked are safely dead.
Opaline city, shrimpers spinning devils from the Gulf
the neighborhood mayors pontificating over eastern embanked towns
bungalow & high-rise peeling lemon curd. Roots transmit vegetal alarm.
Cellars stocked with snow chains, dark-eyed potatoes, cans of Valvoline.
Wandering the aisles for deliquescent plums & AA batteries
while lithe rivers lick at the island, its cotton-mouthed souls, you & you appear.
Weather gods with plumy hair, ambrosia in silken laps— strings invisibly plucked
music the wind’s sharps & flats: flakes of coconut sweeten the air
Bind them into a chorale—mud frog, feathered whirligig, bass tugboat.
Compound nouns (wine dark, dark-fall, dark red) are a lazy woman’s knack
but earth’s synaesthesia is the taste of fear, a bad, bad penny on the tongue.
Carol Alexander is the author of the poetry collections Fever and Bone (Dos Madres Press, 2021), Environments (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and Habitat Lost (Cave Moon Press, 2017.) Alexander’s poems appear in a variety of anthologies and in journals such as The American Journal of Poetry, Canary, The Common, Cumberland River Review, Denver Quarterly, The Goose, Hamilton Stone Review, One, Pangyrus, Pif, Ruminate, The Seattle Review of Books, Southern Humanities Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Sweet Tree Review, Terrain.org and Third Wednesday. Additional work is forthcoming in Delmarva Review, Free State Review and Raintown Review.