If the sky opened raining money instead of blood
you could ask more favors: baskets and nets for all, free love
without its impermanence, the rushed construction of bridges
before collapse: anything so that in your hand the gun
now of no use begins to grow cold, unfamiliar, some kind of gift
used years ago, when needed, when the blank pages
were left for dead, soaked with storm and understated
longing. Our city has asked of us that we show our affection
with confetti and streamers, with naked streaking over ruined trellises
which are now targets for hunters, dank homes for black widows
and their millions of tiny spawn. These days are like egg sacks
exploding–only silent, all of us to die in the unwritten fire,
history unearthed years from now, with nothing left but an offering
of this dissipated past. When we sleep, the blood red sky
always shrouds, framing impossible maps on our skin, splaying
buckshot droplets like halted rain, spherical crosshairs
over everything like some painting we’ll always leave behind.
What painter’s hand has lost control? Is planning to mark us
permanently with the darker colors of this night? We could ask
just one thing, we’re told, and that is all. But it’s only us now
at the highest point: the lights blinking out, cars sputtering
in the cold dark toward destinations unknown by their drivers.
We wanted to be that way once, on top of that hill, near the edge,
looking down at nothing in our hands but each other’s.
Nocturne with Burning Building
This city is ours, you said, your hair blowing like invisible seeds
dying at their separation from the root. We both knew then
how true you meant it to be. But we owned nothing, not even love
the way we saw it then, wavering in the colder days
like ghosts passing through our lives. Even they had given up.
And looking at you now, I can’t say exactly the bad choices
I’ll make, but I know there will be many. They will exist
like our words crystallizing into our former selves, when
we focused on nothing, not leaving for the warmth inside
our bodies, near the fireplace we never touched, for fear
of burning the building to its core. But I would concentrate
on your eyes, white flames licking beams to blackness,
and would hold you until the lights swirled miles away,
speeding at us like it mattered: if we were sleeping then,
drunk, too in love to admit our lives would soon be too much.
Lost then, and now, I can see how in love I was with it all:
your hand warm in mine, the many car accidents we saw
at the corner, the one way street, our entwining, eyes closing
as the sirens slalomed and tore off walls, faded like our breath
upon the coldest day in history. When our sleep
was the sleep of the gods. We never woke that way again.
Keith Montesano currently teaches English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Other poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Literary Review, River Styx, Third Coast, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Passages North, Sonora Review, Another Chicago Magazine, The Pinch, Hunger Mountain, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. He blogs at http://kmontesano.blogspot.com and has continued Kate Greenstreet’s poetry first book interview project at http://firstbookinterviews.blogspot.com.
“My fiancé and I have a balcony off our third floor apartment that we call our front porch. We’re at the corner of two streets in a residential area in Richmond, so there’s always something to see. And since we’re fairly high up, there’s a sense of being hidden that allows us to witness car accidents and drunken 2 A.M. altercations and the like without being glimpsed from the people below. Lately a lot of poems have been inspired by such glimpses.”