blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2010  Vol. 9  No. 2
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If The World Asks
    —for Ai

Tell them I prayed hard
—for release, for the dam with the craze in it
to crumble. I could not weep. See,

my face is numb, eyes dry from the years
in the desert, beating the pavement with my cart
for groceries, or trade at the Buffalo Exchange.
I’d be dressed for anything, even Hollywood, and not
without my Fossil watch, lapis or turquoise beads,
leather sandals, tote slung over my shoulder like it cost
nothing—Just imagine, all that, in swirls of obsession:
heat and dust, and Thank Christ, topping it all off
with a check from somewhere—editor, publisher, friend,
rug or folk art dealer. I’d resume my work at night with the voices,
a cup of hot peppermint tea, and a wide bar of dark chocolate.

I saw the sands of the cities shifting,
become stone. Offices replacing horse stalls, getting us
more buses, but always off schedule. Remember though,
that tall, long drink of a Colorado boy, sweetest
visitor on those scorcher afternoons that led to the fall
dinners and readings, all of his brushed-silk tees,
the raw-edge Armani jacket.

Say—this time, I call myself Lucky
since you know I was, and no doubt,
drowning. Water was still there in Stillwater, Oklahoma!
You know I loved
my old cowgirl boots deep in It, and of course, a good joke.

Don’t forget—I had hope, and faith—
some of the people will recall the really good parts
we played together. I think from back when I was a kid,
I had some kind of “stage presence,”
and on those Ai-featured nights,
well—the sky was mine.
Once in awhile, just like the stars, I didn’t even appear.

No one’s ever going to get the whole story,
just me and my cats, my privacy intact, and
my breasts my own.
It will be much too late for anyone,
including you, to do a damn thing about it.
And that, you’ll have to know, was my business.  end

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