Two Poems

August Kleinzahler

Montreal

A shriek hits the membrane

that canopies the street, falls,
and the trough gets it.
Sediment thickens with it,
the dust of voices,
the smoky penumbra around street lamps,
finally settling to the ground.

A monster stirs,
under this midden we love on,
chafing himself against the crust,
too miserable to rage.

Oat jism, perfume –
the radio horn man blows
a hole through,
again blows, again with spite,
again,
until no more horn,
none.

*

Corinna in May pushed a rus
ty nail
deep in the soil of her sick gardenia.

All through the dark months leaftips curled.
What buds appeared were sickly pale.
As a consumptive heroine in winter light
so fared and failed Corinna’s plant.

In June, beside the burbling toilet,
a dark shellac arose in the leaves.
A bud grew fat and began to peel.
The pedicel swelled.

At last came the bloom.

Corinna of the milky thighs
unfastened her wrapper and drew a bath
so that she might wash, dream,
then wash herself again

that warm spring night in the fragrant room.

*

Get out,
she said. Past
kindness,
unkindness,
down came no hair. Thus
ends the tale.

No meal of rant
No billy-gruff jig
No divots raked
from the moonlit sod

The last light lit
is the magazine shop’s

with its colour photos of gash
in baseball caps and knee-socks.
I know a pocket:

*

lily dust on the table,
cat in the fog.
It’s the world turned us out
just before the whole thing blew
and virus loose
biting whatever’s left to chew.

What a stroke of luck,
this isle
and only the two of us:

plenty crayfish, lots bananas
and …
See over there –
it’s Segovia,
Segovia playing Fernando Sor.

The Tunnel of Love

In a place of trampled peanuts,
like Hansel and Gretel at the end of their spoor,
we come at last to our journey’s end.

Dusk brings on the lights
and one can hear, if only faintly, music and screams
from deep inside.
Leg-weary, only half awake,
stunned by the game-booths, barkers and speed,

the time has come,
we have finally arrived
for what you and I knew all along
would be the day’s last ride.

But first, a lemonade with ice
to startle the hot brain and sweeten the tongue.
Our prow slams through the door
and we are in night.
Darling, darling, she whispers,
tell me what you’d truly like.
– Tickle my nose, if you would,
I ask her.
Aatchoo
Gesundheit
How happy we are with the gimcrack horrors,
the cackles and groans,
alone,
moving slowly.