Issue 13

Two Poems

 · Poetry

Portrait as Bougainvillea Gone Derelict Over Chain Link

If you want to talk about fuchsia engines as proof
beauty lives in a desert, let’s talk about the night a fire
breaks out over a house under construction:
its backlit frame like paper cut silhouettes,
each flame exquisite to the arsonist.
Let perspective decide what extravagance means.
Behind door A lies the wilderness in your own heart.
Behind door B: an explicit dream. Color ignites
when you least expect it. Narrative repeats theme.
Late June, ornamental vines sear a valley metropolis.
You’re always lovelier than you believe.

To Johnny Weir on I Love You, I Hate You XXI Olympic Winter Games, Vancouver Transgression isn’t hot pink cording down the center of your chest as much as the articulated pose, each muscle frozen in exuberance: the AP photo I love for your green-eyed envy of nothing and no one, elbows out, fingers splayed in sheer black gloves, the instant I think you know each sequence is obsession honed to art, each edge a fretwork left on ice. It isn’t the single tassel — also pink, no apology — or the oil-slick corset, but how performance masks the hours. No one listens for the sound of blades beneath the music. The coliseum breathless at the next jump. It isn’t a boy beginning to dream in Quarryville, a cornfield swarmed in snow, but the speed of desire: each clockwise spin, each gesture a spiked rose. When Di Blasio’s rumba turns, I think of nights I woke in Pittsburgh alone, the avenue stippled in orange light. I wanted nothing, and everything. In that brick, pre-war apartment, I lived through seasons of no answer. The end of grief is the beginning of fire, as when the last note sunders air.

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