Eileen R. Tabios

English’s Wandering Authenticity

The world saw me as a humpback—Your hands paused
before my black brassiere—“Honey, angels fall but
they never die”—To be an angel is to be alone in a smudged

gown, fingers poking through holes burnt by epistemology—
Drinking from ancient goblets whose cracked rims snagged
lips into a bleeding burning, I forgot my flesh was ruin—

A baby rattlesnake stained the asphalt green, smashed
by a neighbor who, it was rumored, adored massive mahogany
libraries jam-packed with cracked leather covers, yellowing

pages, and wisdom best left forgotten—A big-bellied man
whispered Murder can remain mere story over a cigar
smoked down to the length of my then-enchanting thumb—

Birds formed a toupee for trees—Violet bruises from a rifle’s
intimacy—Trauma defined as the hollows formed when
knees bent, then kneeled—A girl shrieked as her swing

soared towards a boiling sky—Feet mischievously walking
two inches above ground—Belting my jeans with a used halo—
A pedestal bloodied by what who leapt from it—Envying

thorns—Beauty can be reasonable if one tolerates boredom—
Fear is a loss—Vivid is subjective—A poet insisted, “abashed
aubergine”—A Bengal Tiger mimicking a helicopter’s dance—

Lineage seduces—Manolo Blahnik’s faux elegy for crocodiles—
The momentary immortality of a new car—Oxymoron defined
as “Mutual Funds”—Cheer dispersed through fishnet stockings—

Dusk enhancing conversations—Plankton beneath the wave
radiating from green to gold with the onset of wet sunlight—
Desire ascending when it rains—A white azalea quieted shade

into a girl—A girl loved marble enough to freeze into a swoon—
Skin of jasmine mirroring sky—Preening over a labyrinth—
You there with blue veins cracking transparent membrane—

The weaver elongating holes into tears—The empress hum
-ing calculus—Symmetries shaped by memory lapses—
He learned her body as a white finger holding back starlight—

Accepting a colonizer’s alphabet for electricity—Defining
ambition as helpless, like a compulsion to write songs for
women who will never wear headscarves—That wandering

authenticity—The air of a country where the love for a woman
is the love for a man is the love for Allah! Mohammed welcoming
Jews and Christians for they, too, are “People of the Book”—

Kohl’s Stories

Memory a colander with generous holes—That trembling
seacoast city—Hir piccola città replete with hyphens—
Carrara defiled until a nude woman emerged, magnificent

breasts paling against the blank gaze of stone eyes—Baby
priests turning away to cast profiles forsworn to Donatello—
Nurturing salvation’s seedlings—He was the essence of

licorice—O errors in pretty miscalculations: monotone trans-
formed to moonstone—Coax lullabys out of empty tin cans—
Wind stuffing headless birds and spermatozoa into fragile

craters of a lassoed moon—Sobs from an abandoned harem
bringing down comets to accuse the alcove—Flabbergasted
lions bred for locked jaws—A breakfast of rain—Poem writ

on the milk bill—Minarets growing within muddy whirlpools—
A lady in Florence, violets in her hair, avoided sunlight—
Virgins and children reveal their true nature by how they

scratch themselves—Those dolls: for a moment, their eyes
—Kohl revealing stories without words—Cabs waiting
as brandy cherries decomposed in sealed jars—A coffin’s

succoring bed—Down covered her thighs—Grey men fading
as they fell to melt into grey stones—A noonday cannon
scattered pigeons—A hobby of attending to death beds;

afterwards, she always lusted for hotel lobbies stuffed
with crystal chandeliers—Carcass of a small animal, enchant
-ing behind blue glass—Climbing a distorted mountain for

its summit of repose—The startling velocity of tourists—
Crocheted lace of white dandelions—Coal among olives,
olive among coals—The abbess gambled to house refugees

while the Adriatic sighed and sighed … Adolescent eros
sourcing radium for the Word—Impish teen who sang,
The sublime always winks—Scythes melting before mystics

as God revealed hirself thin-ankled but a peasant—Opera
emanating from a row of ashbins—Postcard of nuns cheerfully
picking lemons in Los Angeles—The perfume of fresh bread

outside a panetteria, the vinegary tang floating from a wine
shop, heaven as the scent of roasting coffee from a grocer
and the necessary reminder of those different from us

through the stench of street drains—Old woman in a black tent
dress cooked sweet chestnuts then pushed them through
a sieve woven from hair—Olives who fell before picking

discarded from those awaiting virgin pressings—Fiore delicately
slicing mushrooms then spreading the segments on a wooden
table to dry under the sun—The last bag of mushrooms I received

in the autumn of 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war—Rain
arriving aslant like premature memory—You losing all Alleluias—
Freezing light into words by spreading lavender ink across thick

cream paper—                                                             The fate of clay pigeons—

Eileen R. Tabios loves books and has released over 40 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental (auto)biographies from publishers in eight countries and cyberspace. Recent books include THE OPPOSITE OF CLAUSTROPHOBIA (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2017) and YOUR FATHER IS BALD: Selected Hay(na)ku Poems (PIM Bibliotheca Universalis, 2017). She also just released two chaps, TO BE AN EMPIRE IS TO BURN and WHAT SHIVERING MONKS COMPREHEND (Locofo Chaps, 2017). More information is available at http://eileenrtabios.com
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