Jul/Aug 2002 Poetry

Four Poems

by Gabriel Dean

Art by Bob Dornborg


Porch Talk

Nothing is special about the shadow of his head against the screen. Dad sits, shirt off, in a chair covered with cat hair, listening to a rainstorm bounce like BBs on the tin roof of his porch.

I have come from college to visit.

His back wraps around him the way a pig's flesh hangs off its spine, soft, but impervious. He tells me about guitars, cars, and sex.

I am not surprised when he talks of the affairs. He swears it's been a long time since he got some strange, and that he loves Mom to death.

A chiffarobe from 1933 stands next to him, color of crab apples, mirror still attached, loosing mercury at the edges. Grandma gave it to mom to fix up if she got time. "The thing's in my way," Dad grumbles.

Even through the tink of the rain, we hear the neighbor's dog, upset at the barometer. Dad's body reddens as he talks. He's glad for the rain and the cool it brings.

He goes on about the mortgage again, the carpet mill, and how the gases from the extrusion machine eat the pipes. He replaces them once a month.

I remember how he taught me to wrap Christmas gifts so it looked like there was no seam.

Dirtdobbers hum next to his head. Dad doesn't want them nesting on his porch. He finds the mudded nest on the inside door of the chiffarobe, breaks it off with his hand, stomps the whole nest underfoot, and tells me how they don't really sting, but just bite like hell.


The Suicide of Narcissus

Yesterday, his mother
adored his brazen
skin and shifting
boybody. He smiled,
and she forgot how
the taste of murder
felt in her
mouth while
cutting his hair in
front of mirrors.

A single sheet
of painted glass
separated his face and eyes.

Today, the man runs
among maidens,
a tiger with glass eyes.
He bends apple trees
with his arms,
will only eat
fruit closest to the sun.
He excites the world
with the weight of his head.

Tomorrow, with
innocent steel, he
will forge his home,
a palace
on the unveiled
side of Mount Solitude.
He will think
the dew rusting
his roof a sacrifice.
His hands will move
to Water and he will
make love to her,
be jealous of her,
until his lungs explode
and she devours all
but his eyes.

Then, he will forget
his birth to remember
the exact distance between planets.


A Modern Ophelia

"I think your poetry
is bullshit," she said.

"Get the fuck out!" he laughed
teeth stained with Chianti,
thistles in his green eyes.

She ran from the table
on the terrace
like a bullet
broke her ribs,
hair heavy as windchimes,
passing through green linen curtains
into his garden,
past the Wisteria arbor
and the Bluebonnets
into the bed of damp lilies.
There she fell,
and sat in the dirt,
her back to the sky,
waiting for him
to come again
and invite her to dine.

She smiled when she
tongued the soil,
imagining a beast
between her legs,
fiercer than him,
ripping at time and reason
and bringing him into her
stormy garden, where
snakes the size of trees
eat men whole.


A Modern Hamlet

Did you know
you loved the hunter,
gnashing his teeth
on the bones of
his dead mother?

Did you want to love the warrior
smelling of crushed clover,
knees stained from falling on

Do you remember the night
I held you in a curve,
the moonlight blue on your body
like stone?
I wanted then to rip out
your will,
devour it,
and stain my tongue
with its black blood.

You were unable to fight.
You would let me kill you
because your love permitted
such sacrifice.

You disgusted me.


Previous Piece Next Piece