MARY LEARY

  

Logs

Men have these big
beautiful logs. Gotta
carry them around, wake up
thinking of nothing else,
maybe even
brag a little. Are
puzzled because others
are not equally fascinated
with this easy accomplishment. Women

are bemused; depending on
the spoke of their cycle
kissed by the feet
of the male dancer,
so that sometimes they are oblivious
to logs;
may even pity men for their obsession. Other

times they think about logs
a lot, have more
sympathy for the load
carried by men;
want to help carry those logs, really
get involved.

Lesbians don't seem
concerned with logs
but keep a certain amount
of kindling, even matches
on hand. They are
free of log consciousness
and leap in water, hands waving
until a missile or plane
hits a building
and their attention is forced
onto long hard things
that make you scream with pain or glory. Gay men

take log worship
to another level
but I won't even try to go there;
am dropping
the baton into cupped fingers less likely
to let the story escape the telling
of its finish,
evaporate like water.

Featured as "Poem of the Week" at Bluestocking Books, San Diego


Without Hope, Beauty, Anyway


This is for those Japanese women
who speak sleepily
of whales,
falling onto futons
to dream the geese
who shadowed their mothers
as they hung wash out in the wind to flap
like wet white tongues...

This is for those Japanese women
who don't want golf balls flying
through what were once wild places,
who long to collapse at the feet of temples
beckoning through noontime trees
like stone courtiers.

This is for those Japanese women who aren't smart
because they went to university
but because they awaken
to the sound of the sky
as it rises,
a bright blue ring they slip
onto fingers.

This is for those Japanese women who live to sip tea
inside a flake of snow,
sitting in a circle
and bowing to their lunch like black-eyed susans,
hair shining like black jewelry as they cry
over men
who have stopped calling.

This is for those Japanese women
who float home above their bodies like aired fish,
shadowing the commute that could
deflate their spirits,
then rise at dusk to kiss
the earth's belly,
drink from it.

This is for those Japanese women
who don't long for tall blond men
but who are smart enough
to fear them, who know
the sun that lies down in Osaka
must awaken in Hollywood
without hoping for even a drop
of slow pastel,
running water.

Previously published in a different version in Earth's Daughters


I live with Charles Bukowski,

I'm his dame, his maid, his woman
and we wake up every morning
looking for new signs and portents.
Every bubble in a fresh beer
takes on a whole new importance.
And if we can learn to read the clouds
somehow we'll make our fortune.

Sometimes at night I hang in bars
for women, have a beer
and have sex with a tomboy,
then play some pool, and leer.
And there are nights when the moon
wears a brass ring in her ear —
Then I've got to have a boy,
got to jump into a jeep:
join a tanned lad with sheepdog hair,
and taste his sweat
and get all wet
and feel the waves break, near.

'Cause Charles is my main man, you see,
he's good and sweet and kind. A man
to teach the young ones how.
A rebel in his mind.
But Charles has wrinkles on the brain
and Charles is going blind.

Still, sitting on the sofa, listening
to the way that his head works
and sharing some tall ones with him
is not a task I shirk.

I live with Charles Bukowski,
I'm his woman, his sweet dame.
I drive him to the race track. At night I call his name.
I love him really cold and hot and low and high and blue.
I love him as a blues man lives to finger a guitar
and sing when no one's listening
and weep about the stars.

I'm Charles Bukowski's woman, man,
I sit with him at the bar!
I roll with him through southern California,
making clean
the evil in the pristine air,
the barren earth more green.

Previously published in The Arden


Manual For Living, Part 1


The black cat curled around the white pillow
is intimately acquainted with the fiddler.
He knows the man is tired of being summoned
only in April and October.
Must Kitty kill a bird to make his mama dance
and wear a crown of holly?

How varied are our notions of love:
Yours weaves like frightened smoke.
Hers is steadfast, quiet but dazzling upon occasion.
His is wounded, dwarfed by tall trees, never taking chances.

Meanwhile fathers are holding their children
while mothers fold the wash, then laze in noontime butter.
On the kitchen wall Fred Astaire dances with his little boy.
Above the bed twirl two Guatemalan maidens.

You can spit in the sink before feeding the cats
and throw away old roses to make room for new blossoms.
Yes! Smoke a cigarette before making carrot soup,
sprinkling green cilantro like ferns over thick orange.

Tell your mother you love her even if she never told you:
                              because she's old, and you can afford it.
Speak to children of rubies that glisten on snow
                                                 like painted nipples.
Enter the Maine woods at least once a year,
                                                 if only by dream-flying.
And if you haven't advanced through wood paneling
                                                 with one white candle,
moonlight streaming like a bride's train
                                                 through the window,
I can only say that I heartily recommend it:

Snow leopards will steal into the edges of your dreams
and take you to a place so green
it makes you cry.