Fiction - Dropping Balm, Summer 2001

by Michael Dennison

After the Evening at Lubla's
(In the Spirit of the Fin-de-Siecle)

What she demanded was more and better than I
had to give: the twelve positions of the clock, seconds
ticking between minutes with lavender and the
odor sanctum interruptus pricium in the bed linen.

These Marais salons with their oval, porcelain white
poppet faces, eyes glazed with disappointment, nervous
fussing with laces, make me regretful even before
I unfold and count out the bank notes to the mother.

From our position so complex it might be a prayer to
Siamese gods, I rise, fix my small clothes, button trousers,
run into the night street with wingspread great coat
around my shoulders, hand holding my Homburg

down from merciless wind and God. I ascend only to crawl,
flail on hard pavement, hands torn between paradise lost and found,
half-denizen of an epoch, while everyone else seems so assured,
palms up, with their mantras, opium and monkey glands.


Pen Tattoo Kiss

In lace she enveloped me like a black river

(a melting violin cries
contemplating magnolias)

she was a diamond     I was a rooster
I drink green cadillacs
             and dream hard
inside Saturn's Rings

a floating #2 pencil
sings of murder
in the Adirondacks

she kissed my pen tattoo
like a black river
I dream hard

Sonnet of Fire and Heaven

A dead Bishop makes smoke like an old Mustang
when the white signal curls up the chimney.
After a slow burn in sky, rain, and a coal turbine,
the perfume of lilies is diverted through power lines.

Time dances forward and Death smiles himself
back into a rusty tack in someone's potato.
Nature hisses on, busily sharpens her new
lead pencil in the dark, writes the name of a Pope,

and then plugged in through the grid, at this
end of an outlet in a bedroom, the electric body
nibbles ghostlike down the sandwich of thighs.
He admires a right fine hole to spelunk in,

and with a kiss and sniff at the soft edifice
on her warm tinder strikes a flint for sparks.

2006 Michael Dennison

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