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A Little Night Music

ISSUE:  Winter 2000

1. Night Arrival in the Tropics
where a thick black looms
in loops and tangles

where the dark
thrusts of palm

pierce deeper dark
of swamp and sky

where air
is an oil and a

humming whispering clicking
springs from mud from wind

from sliding
water and stands around

big and loose-
limbed in the casual

shadows leaning
now then

closer to touch
to stroke

the wildest
skin the

rainiest places

2. Night Cry of the Frogs

who think they’re birds
(though they live,

says the maid,
a terre, pas dans les arbres)

squatting among the tall
grass juices

and shrilling their fierce
intermittent claims—

c’est moi, oui, oui, ici,
moi, oui, ici

quickly, tinily
harkening each

to each—toi? oui?
among the intricate knots

of insect syntax
shrilling, trilling,

oui, moi, ici — et toi?

so stubborn that even
a stranger on this island

knows: if small curled
fallen leaves could

(heaven forbid)
cry out in the night,

they wouldn’t cry like this

3. Night Cow

munching the roadside—
humped and horny,

mournful and O so desolé
under a buttery grinning

moon, without
a moo of her own, she

wants and wants in
a belly of silence,

wants, white
ghost of a past that had,

said the guide, few “coos,”
a future of silvery

grasslands somewhere
else, instead has to wait

and wade here, night after
night, through prickles

and puddles of darkness, under
a dizzy

umbrella of stars,
devouring patches of weedy

black until her skinny
milk comes

pouring out for
no one at least for

nothing she can name.

4. Night Punch, Night

syrup of crimson, sweet
unassuageable rouge

in the long still
throats of the spinning

dark under
cloud froth—

bloom of black
sugar ripened to

petals of rum to
sniff to

swallow and breathe—
and the sleepers plummet

toward what is
lost and soft,

through snorting through
wallow through deepest

forget—as if there weren’t
right now, clear on the other

side of things
the same old salt-

white light
bleaching the same old naked

sea-bones shrunk
and stranded

on dry white heights.


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