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Robin Wayne Bailey
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Poetry
(posted May 2004)


MOONLIGHT
by Robin Wayne Bailey

Moonlight
in your hands
as you cup
water
from the fountain
mist in your hair
gleaming pearls
cascading
through your fingers
sound of splashing
your breathing
in my ear
I sit
beside you still
as I can be
drawing out the moment
later
when we fuck
flesh gliding
sliding wetly
when gods are
moving
in us both
I see it
hear it all
again and
moonlight
fills your eyes


MISS RICKIE'S FUNERAL
by Robin Wayne Bailey

I stand on the edge
of your funeral today
in a bar that opens
early for the laying
of your spirit.

First among many who
gather to remember,
I toss some dirt
on the empty dance floor,
execute a curt pirouette
--in flawless style, of course--
stop, hang my head.

There is no music;
here is your grave, though

not that patch of earth
under open country sky where
lonely breezes ripple wreathes
of roses sent by relatives
who never really knew you,

but here, with hard parquet
under hot electric
lights and neon strobes,
perfumes of bourbon, beer,
and amyl apparitions
to sing you lullabies --
one hundred forty beats per minute.
Here you lived and here you lie.

The bar fills,
so many friends embracing
by your graveside.
A willowy blond boy
steps onto the floor and sings,
sweat gleaming on nervous throat
under a blue-gel sunrise;
music throbs from speakers
more powerful than God
with the same power to breathe life
into still, clay figures,
change them into dancers.
A lesbian takes center stage,
does a good Elvis impression;
a comic drag queen invokes
your memory with a Veronica Lake
wig and handlebar mustaches
whose tips are tied to
nipple rings;
a hunky leather man in
studded harness
sign-interprets "The Rose;"
your mother, who has graced us
with her presence as she graced
us with you, rises,
moves onto the floor,
and weeps as she waltz's
with a six-foot Judy Garland.
Your brother,
such a studly stoic,
hides his trembling lip and
watches from a safe distance,
but he's here, too, and
We're all Family!
(I Got all my Sisters with Me!)

The lights dim.
Singers, dancers, drag queens,
friends, lovers, parents
all stop. Turn. Stare.
There you are,
beaming from a half-dozen
video screens, your skinny
barechested body wiggling
through one of your performances
as you tease patrons who fill your hands
with dollar bills and
phone numbers.

Everyone laughs, applauds, remembers,
but then you're gone again.
As if some film could ever capture you.

For a long moment
tears from your mother
make the only music.

Quietly, I move and take the floor.
My handful of dirt has been
ground, made one with the parquet.
Everyone grows attentive,
even Mother, even Brother
because word is out and
I'm the best there is.
My music cues;
the lights shift, swell, fade,
and I mourn the only way
I know how anymore.

The last quavering note,
I hold it until the instrumentation
dies, then let it go, give in,
make a fool of myself
before the whole room,
because I cry, but crying,
also laugh, because I'm
still alive -- no small miracle
these days -- strange
sense of guilt in that.

Last glance at the
video screens. I make my bow
walk off the floor, and the clapping
that I hear is the soft
applause of ghosts


IN THE EYE
by Robin Wayne Bailey

I am at that
oh so calm
center
in the eye
of the storm
where
another man
and a razor blade
look equally good
offer
exactly the same thing
only
one swift and clean
the other
slower
with far more pain.

I grasp at
lifelines
pick-up lines
paint on small
laugh lines
to animate my face
grasp at lifelines
about so long
and warm
cling
for an hour
or an evening
no more.

I am porcelaine
cool and beautiful
to delicate
to touch
cheap glass
a costume jewel
a tear drop.

I am centered
in the storm
feeling nothing
hearing
harsh murmurings
only wind
whirling air
whirling
nothing
I am in
the storm
and nothing
holds me up.


IMAGES OF YOU
by Robin Wayne Bailey

Pearl on the ocean floor
Winged bird of beautiful delight
First star that through the storm clouds
Glimmers on a warm and windy summer night

Whisper of a restless sea
Salt breeze upon my upturned face
Fragments of a half-remembered dream
That lure me from my hiding place

Fire in the distant dark
These impressions on my hungry senses
Like butterflies in graceful velvet flight
Or moths drawn forth without caution or defenses

The pearl, the bird, the star
Are you, and you the sea, the breeze, the dream
Treasures all -- and you the fire that draws me out
And burns my timid heart until I wake and scream

Bloom of an orchid flower
Wisps of jasmine, and garden dew
In solitude I close my eyes, and all my broken
Thoughts are filled with minute images of you


A CHANGE IS COMING
by Robin Wayne Bailey

A change is coming.
No national malaise this time;
A national darkness rather
That strains across the land,
A shadow with a hungry eye
That fixes on all horizons.
A change is coming.
Our leaders sniff the air like hounds,
Lift up their hind legs, pee ambition
On the pillars of America, on the paths
Our forefathers tread, trade their blue serge suits
For brown shirts, gas masks, latex gloves.
Can you feel the change that's coming?
The pioneers are sleeping before television sets,
Sedated on bottled water, ritalin, and paxil,
Drunk on former glory, deafened by anthems,
Sabre-rattling, and John Phillips Sousa, unable
To discern a civil alert from a late-night test pattern.
A change is coming, come, here,
And who has sense enough to shiver?
The Great Dream becomes a nightmare;
The American Spirit takes on a chill,
Reveals itself as the American Spectre.
Mount Rushmore hangs its heads in shame.
A change is coming,
And kindly Uncle Sam casts off the Stars and Stripes,
Dons a fashionable shroud,
Takes up a scythe,
Slouches toward the night.



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