The orange inside the orange is gold:
in this juice the wealth of labor,
its sunshine the ring-decked gleam of the ladies
whose skin is tough and bronzed like the orange,
whose soft thoughts are hidden from their men.
The palm inside the palm burns like a cigarette,
the addict’s love that cannot breathe.
The ladies wave their resilient hands
with their burning wands, and along Cocoanut Row
the palms thrash in the hurricane.
The ocean inside the ocean is a spaniel
endlessly racing, drooling foam for joy.
Again, again, the senile sea
claps at each baby-blue crash.
The ladies own the view behind glass,
shutter the sun in pastel rooms
where the piano and the wheelchair sleep.
The album inside the album has no name
or too many. All the smiles and their objectives blurred
like a glitter of stars without constellation lines.
Look, these were your friends. Look, trophies,
grandchildren, the news. Whose is the charity
for this season?
The woman inside the woman lifts a match to her lips
that hold no cigarette. The burning stick
one more thing not to see, the flame familiar
as her late husband’s golden apologies.
Down her breast, a dribble of flame like fresh juice.
And still she stares at the expensive sea,
matches it breath for amnesiac breath.
This poem won a third prize in the 2008 Dancing Poetry Contest, and is included in my chapbook Hound of Heaven, forthcoming this fall from Southern Hum Press. (Their website is down again…arrgh.) “Nature morte” is the wonderfully evocative French name for a “still life”.