Tuesday, June 12, 2012


                         has escaped the carousel and stand chained
                         to the trunk of a dogwood in the suburbs

                         fourteen miles from New York. Bright
                         in his new coat of paint, his stripes

                         blend with the mix of light and shade,
                         his likeness, and only slightly less dangerous.

                         Across the street, nearly hidden
                         in dense brushy rhododendron, a bronze swan

                         glimmers in dots of light like rain or little mirrors,
                         like medallions. When the light's right they reflect

                         the tiger, broken  into pieces, flattened, tamed.
                         She doesn't like to hear his panting on hot days
                         but senses how the chain beneath his chin
                         chafes skin. Sympathy like light wind

                         cannot stir her feathers, weighted with metal.
                         Nights she imagines his slide silent as shadow

                         to the bed upstairs. Driven out (he is always 
                         driven out), he dreams it's possible to slip

                         behind  the stove  or fridge; he spits
                         like a house-cat when the woman sprinkles water

                         on the grass and wets his clothes. He misses
                         his little blue jacket but not saddle's

                         golden tassels and gilt trim, and he longs for music,
                         but not the children climbing and patting.

                         On long summer afternoons he might doze
                         in the shade of garage where blades and spokes,

                         Old bikes and broken mowers, gleams beneath coats
                         Of grime and dust, brown furry frosting. He is manifest  

                         desire and drips like a bitten peaches, plumbs; tigers.
                         his fine eyes shine with bleak intelligence and blink

                         in all that dark, and then he stretches, pink  
                         tongue curling. His breast heaves. Bars bow:
                         he is potential mouth and froth and leap,
                         brings smell like meat, the scent  of mud from rivers 
                         with him, bruises, streaks of old  abrasions, chunks
                         of carrion and traces of wild grasses,

                         memories of fatty thighs of swans,
                         their  gorgeous splayed black paddlefeet.



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