[from J. Allyn Rosser's Foiled Again, Ivan R. Dee, 2007]
The Smell of Rat Rubs Off
Once again you've fallen for the lure
of his deference, his quick eyes' brightness
slinking from the pantry of the righteous.
Nothing half so sleek as self-licked fur.
Not that he forgot your boots, or left
A single high-aimed compliment unturned.
He'll double back, affect to be concerned
when he's the secret reason you're bereft,
embracing you with his Houdini hold,
repeating chewed-off bits of what you say
so he seems loyal, you the turncoat jay.
You'd think by now you'd learn to be consoled
to know the soul he sold's not yours but his,
though where yours was a hollow feeling is.
Then too there is this
joy in the day's being done, however
clumsily, and in the ticked-off lists,
the packages nestling together,
no one home waiting for dinner, for
you, no one impatient for your touch
or kind words to salve what nightly
rises like heartburn, the ghost-lump feeling
that one is really as alone as one had feared.
One isn't, not really. Not really. Joy
to see over the strip mall darkening
right on schedule a neon-proof pink
sunset flaring like the roof of a cat's mouth,
cleanly ribbed, the clouds laddering up
and lit as if by a match struck somewhere
in the throat much deeper down.
Foiled Again: Poems