TWO POEMS – Rob Talbert

Posted: January 10, 2013 in Fiction, Poetry
Tags: , , , ,


Cruise Ship Room Attendant


The American woman at the table screamed

at the Moroccan man who offered to buy her.

Screamed until her face

was a baboon’s ass of scarlet.


The Moroccan asked her husband how much for her

in French

in Spring

in well-ironed clothes reeking of cologne.


Even the birds heard her.


What do you think I am

a fucking souvenir? And you!

She said to her husband

Why aren’t you beating him to death?


I leaned back in my chair and watched

the Moroccan go, strolling down

the sun-beat cobblestone


while the woman glared at her husband

and dipped the last of the bread


in the last of the olive oil.

The rocks on her hands gleamed

like a madman’s ideas.

Her swollen bag of souvenirs

slumped below her slumped husband.


This man wasn’t heartbroken,

just back-broken. A dull razor pushed around.

When I clean the mirror in their room

I imagine his reflection strangled nightly

by the lotion tubes and perfume bottles

overflowing on the dresser.


The Moroccan passed into the shadow

of a great mosque and the couple

edged back to the cruise ship. I doubt

the husband thinks often of the future.

I don’t think he’d so easily

part with two thousand camels.



Storming the Gates


The night is an animal creeping on all fours.

Without it there’s no guardian or shroud

for us to hide behind

so we can fall back

into each other like raked leaves.


Remember the time you kissed a stranger

in the grass pooled with black ink?

Remember smoke filling the car

in the church parking lot?

Remember whatever damn secrets you have?


Now wrap these treasures in barbed wire.


Because the world will tear them from you.

Time, money, family, a spouse, cops, teachers

will tear them from you.

Your boyfriend, your girlfriend

will tear them from you.


You gotta fight dirty before they do.

(And they will.)

You gotta shoot your own mother

on the lawn of yourself.


What my wife knows

and my friends know

and my boss knows

and the girls in laser skirts know

about me

would force me to live a thousand years.


This is my rebellion. My defense.

I scratch the night behind her ears

and stroll into vodka-kiss hotels.

I live as if an angel stole a bag of kindness

from the storage closet.


Now run. Go. Get out there.

Call everyone. Call it faith.

Call the glistening flames

between normal living

the first stutters of some new

and cosmic engine.

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