Steven DaLuz   © 2015 All Rights Reserved

batten down the hatches

tease your wrists with surface scratches

wake your back with 40 lashes

counterbalance slaps with splashes

never name dogs spot or patches

your potato-masher barely mashes!

what causes these itchy pinpoint rashes?

must I listen endlessly to your nonstop insane rehashes?

never tell where his secret stash is

we canít read these dots and dashes

the cocktail you downed is called a flashfizz

what makes you think striped sox and a knitted plaid hat match, Fritz?

so when she falls asleep, tiptoe out, and unlatch her window latches

he specializes in spectacular smashes
      in which what he loves, he dramatically trashes

no, the marmotís hers, the spotted rat, his

mix your tea with both their ashes

ride the wave until it crashes


Portrait of Her as a Cavern on the Isle of Capri

Youíre a castle undermined by the sea,
battlements crumbling, moats filling with eels.
Save yourself, dear! The waterlineís rising.
Up on the roof, the dovecoteís collapsed.
Impressive Egyptian statues that flanked
the great fireplace have been stolen and sold.
No, that's not quite right. Maybe an ancient
temple instead, now encroached on by jungle.
Your sandstone towers, your carved garlands
bespeak the delicate confectionary invention
of a pastry chef-architect with a sense of the sacred.
No. At heart you were never a fortress,
never the temple with lotus rosettes
and very steep stairways meant to represent
the difficult ascent to heaven. Before
all the damage, you were something much brighter,
more fluid and dazzling. A blue grotto, maybe,
awash in dancing, sea-colored light.
And when visitors rowed in rented boats
to dangle a hand in your waters, that hand
would glow (o my lost girl!)
as though dipped in liquid pearl.



Mother keeps
interrupting, mostly
because she wants
things to go well.
She doesnít like silence.
The quiet you prize
scares Mother,
makes her worry
people will think
youíre sullen,
you who look
not one bit like her,
but entirely like her silent
husband. Or, silence
makes Mother think
that the assembled guests
(why must there always be
guests?) arenít getting along.
Chatter has to fill the air,
and the clink of forks
on cake plates.
People should be be eating
and talking or Mother
gets nervous.
And people must laugh.

To laugh properly
you must sound
slightly surprised.
So thatís what this child
works on tonight
as she practices laughing,
trying to sound natural.



Amy Gerstler
Copyright © 2015

Amy Gerstlerís most recent book of poetry, entitled Scattered at Sea (with a most beautiful cover by artist Gail Swanlund) will be published by Penguin in June 2015. Ms. Gerstler teaches in the MFA writing program at the University of California at Irvine.

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