blackbirdonline journalSpring 2009  Vol. 8  No. 1
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Letter to the City Bayou by Its Sign: Beware Alligators

Pimp’s-hat shadows in the feathery date palm. Everything,
I think, at this illegal

hour in the public park has
a half-drunk gait. Dear slow, dark water, why hesitate

like an older man’s hand on my thigh? I’m not sixteen and I’m
gin-brave since hopping the cyclone fence. Are you near

starved for my face in the water? Dear clear, single rose
that blooms in toxic bubbles
from your surface. Dear black bayou, once, by a river
I bit a man’s neck. His scent: the raw

teak air husked inside stomachs of six
Russian nesting dolls—the ones in the attic I pulled

apart and open. The ones I
pulled apart and open like Styrofoam cups

stacked in your red clay banks. Though I’m not
Russian, I can last all night

in an icy wind in nothing
but beggar’s rags, or my blue bikini. I’m made

of so many girls I can’t get them all
drunk at once or they’d mutiny. Dear underworld, I’ll sit here

all night with my selves jumping out
like gin from my tipped cup. You’ll catch us one

by one. We’ll lie in your hot shallows and, with our
dark smiles, raise your pulse.  end

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