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                                                                                                Bernard Henrie


Cold Autumn

Kathleen sleeps naked in the dull moonlight,
not me, not tonight;

wind bumps the splintered window frame,
cold Autumn that did so little for us;

Sitting, head in hands like a Rodin stone,
a man waiting for a bus that no longer runs;

I might pad to the den, toggle a movie,
renounce the Church, study anarchy

munch the half-cut chicken resting featherless,
hung by a crooked neck in the dark fridge.

the house shifts from one foot to a second,
Kathleen opens her eyes, dead awake;

Perfect face, calm like a paraffin fruit,
which of us lies deepest in the fluxing sea?

Together we make our coda, our aubade
for the morning still hours away

drowsing, awake, never farther
than a word or breath of air.


Street Preacher

His voice a school-bell on a plaster wall,
passersby stop at his clank;

a woman on a walker, an unsteady bum
in twists, a mute and badly fed migrant,
musicians on break from the strip club.

Vendors bent over smudged braziers
look up;

shops painted yellow, daubed
with red lights creak shut;

“Washed in the blood of the lamb, brother”

Boys with belts sucked tight, peacock
the girls and toss away their smokes.

Each listener seemed hard of hearing,
bent to his voice.

Sweating in the bulbs of the movie marquee,
bosom rising like a marathon runner,
his smile given like coins to each shop girl,
beggared man, oiled restaurant cook.

No glimmering light out-shone his face,
his telephone to Jerusalem undeniable,
Jordan’s gardener watering blooms.


A Woman Receives a Love Letter

Off the murmuring dance floor
under low lamps cruely imitating
candlelight, suspendered and dreamy
you will find a man like me warmed
by Bombay Gin and saxophones
scribbling a love letter, poems
hidden in my rumpled suit pocket,
a man unable to sing in tune
or repair the automobile,
but on certain nights you won’t
lack for kisses stolen in doorways
or someone to hold your hand
while you sleep quietly whistling
bird songs to sweeten your rest.


A Man Receives a Love Letter

When you are not there I slip between your sheets.
When you are not there I walk into your closet.
I rest my cheek against your suit coat lapel.
I brush my hair with your brush, hold the razor
you hold on Sundays, straighten the bath towel.
When you are not there the clock ticks hidden
behind a stack of books or lost in newspapers.
When you are not there I let myself out. I close
the door leaving a love letter in your shoe.


The Pastoral Fortune Teller

You hold the brown pot of impatiens
between your two hands like a nurse
who holds the cheeks of a sick child
or a husband who stands before his wife
and slowly buttons her winter coat.

You speak to me without looking away
from your flowers; your hands are busy.
Your fingers disappear into the blooms
and nudge the bunched vines and roots.

You say the blooms reveal our future;
you interpret the petals like a farmer
who holds corn silk with leather fingers
and looks heavenward to gauge rain,
to divine intimations of locust plagues
or the stopped mercy of failing light.


                                                                                                © Bernard Henrie

triple rule

Loch Raven Review Fall 2005 — Vol. I, No. 1
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