On that Midsummer evening, you sat on my porch
And said you would not share your 60 cent cigar with me,
Even though you were dropping ash on my Hawaiian vest -
The one from Salvation Army that made you look cheerful -.
I wanted to whisper
'Honey, you can't kick me out of my own party'
But you were coming down from a rage that was breaking your feet
And I could not have said a thing.
So I was silent, toppling inside my own head,
When a car drove in a zooming echo and it played a song.
The song was not with you. Who were you then? Who,
The person from that song I remembered and the silent stalling while
You thought, at least, my sadness, to be your privilege.
It was not and I am sorry.
I-I walk in a room, you know I look so proud.
I’m movin’ in this here atmosphere, where anything’s allowed.
I go to this here party, and I just get bored, until I look out the window, see a sweet young thing, humpin’ on the parking meter, leanin’ on the parking meter - oh, she looks so good, oh, she looks so fine, and I got this crazy feeling that I’m gonna (ah-ah) make her mine, ooh, I’ll put my spell on her - here she comes, walkin’ down the street, here she comes, comin’ through my door, here she comes, crawlin’ up my stair, here she comes, waltzin’ through the hall in a pretty red dress and oh, she looks so good, oh, she looks so fine and I got this crazy feeling that I’m gonna (ah-ah) make her mine, and then I hear this knockin’ on my door, hear this knockin’ on my door, and I look up into the big tower clock and say, “oh my God, it’s midnight!” and my baby is walkin’ through the door leanin’ on my couch she whispers to me and I take the big plunge and oh, she was so good and oh, she was so fine and I’m gonna tell the world that I just (ah-ah) made her mine and I said, “darlin’, tell me you’re name - she told me her name, she whispered to me, she told me her name, and her name is, and her name is, and her name is, and her name is -
G - L - O - R - I - A!
Porch sitting, you tell me, is an old practice around here and there
Is a lot of space. A lot of porches will mark your time –
Two heavy decades of family women in post-funeral circles
Gin sipping and whistling smoke over the ramparts,
Talking about heat and other unwelcome guests, or the county land
Up for sale and bereft houses that will not be occupied.
The black cat lies down next to the swing, I name her Betsy. She and
I like these lambent porches with the 50-cent pirate lighters,
Half in and half outside, thoroughly wrapped in the warm smell
Of your mother’s citronella candles where
Yes, you can see the disconcerting expanse of the sky.
And I know that you must have been sitting here
Catching summer bites at seven and sixteen, swinging contraband like
The bad you had inherited and escaping
To abandoned fronts of strange houses, rolling paper at dusk, until,
From a distance, the ends of your lips were the same color of fire
As the acid fed hydrangeas, glorious and scarlet from neglect.
Tonight, it is a very persistent sort of happiness
that wants to walk through the wine and let me know -
I have not earned the right to come down,
and in case I take privilege from the suffering that does not know itself,
I have at least the morning.
Over a bit of Spanish mackerel in Sri Lanka,
you lick the mustard paste from your thumb and
say it tastes just like the Kerali curry from our trip
last December, but with extra pepper and
do you know if they call it curry? Do we? On the sightsee,
peering at an assembly of lotus and
the lanterns hung over a beach in elaborate formation
you shout but isn’t this just like Orissa! the wind,
it has the same wet calm and it makes me happy to think of home;
Not sure, but I am nodding nonetheless.
The roads are crowded, someone hits our car from the back,
the frown on your face is faint when you tell me
now look, I would still prefer this to America;
and haven’t the Chinese taken it all over anyway?
When it gets to be too hot, we sit under the Bodhi tree and
I agree that it does indeed look like the Banyan.
And if I did not know your fantasies so well,
I would tell you how a place can be itself, but you have already
moved on from my mute reasoning, and now point
at the elaborate Buddha gilded in floral devotion, telling me
their gods remind me of Bangkok, and don’t they look
just a little like ours?
These years, we are not dancing in the blue light
Of a lantern in the Calcutta chai shop I had seen in
Some previously necessary dream and in fact,
We now move in the same intricate dance of the monsoon
With its grey evidence of the month, us,
Repulsions on the map of this overcast city
With no tendency to mutual geography.
But darling, watching drops fall into my tea on the sill,
I know that you too must hear the mango cart rolling
Down that street and that the same musty petrichor will rise
To your balcony with no sense of a mausam to escape,
But only the rumbling frenzy of a post-orange sky.