This Island

1. Genesis

On this island there are many
Some, dressed like eagles
In eagle feathers,
Sit on the top branches of cedar trees
Watching traffic.
Their smiles are large, I would say they
and from these fine pointed
Teeth a chittering
Song like eagle
Laughter, high and bright,

They jump, not so much like birds but more
Like the hang gliders who celebrate
Every Sunday in summer,
Their arms held out in cruciform, on the summit
of Mt. Somenos.

And, cat-like
Land, claws extended, on the roofs of little
Cars, moving like grey mice
On the grey highways where I

One bare-gummed creature, disguised
Eyes luminous, feral iris
Crazy as headlights,
Peered in my window. When I
Looked up, I saw that grin arranged
On the moon’s face like an obedient
His wagging tail arranged a half
Circle of rain on the glass.

“We are all mad here,” he said.

2. Shibboleth

When I was visiting, I noticed
The house smelled.
“It smells like death,” I said. “Your house
Smells bad.”
It happened they’d used foam
Insulation and had to take the walls apart.
In the wall between his
Bedroom and hers because they slept
There was the skeleton of a rat curled
Inside a cat,
Peacefully sleeping.

Later, an old man, who’d been a carpenter, told them
They often did that in the old days,
To keep away evil.

“Do you ever feel the tiny
Pea under your mattress?” my friend asked,

3. Eloise and Abelard

On this island,
There are places where women
Appear to sleep
Alone, the convent walls
Patrolled by black castrati,
Their soprano
Voices are all we hear on the
Outside in our grey
Cars on the grey highways.

Someone told me it was nuns
Who started putting
Bones in walls
To scare the Devil, Tom cats
And sometimes babies with strange
Vestigial tails and ecclesiastical

The sign of the cross was not

4. Apocrypha.

On the wild western sea,
A man sat watching, his hand
Warming the valentine in his breast
Pocket, both retinas
Frozen as usual on the white mammalian

The cougar, painted day-glo yellow,
Not in the tree like my dark hunter,
But crouched in the shadow of a giant
Crab with legs, cancerous, seeking
Refuge in human

The cougar’s cubs were dead, her breasts
Painful, she watched
His salt lips with hungry

In that night, there were no smiles,
No disembodied
Teeth, just four eyes glowing in the crab’s black
Aura, and a human voice,
That made him turn at last.
Remember, this is still my island.

5. Felix Domestica

Cat—carnivorous quadruped.
Yes, I thought,
He has four feet and seems to want
I have been singled out, because
My car is grey and I
Drive carefully around the rolled
Fur, catsup coloured road signs signifying
Probably, he saw I had mongolian
Eyes and didn’t go in for
Probably, he knew
There were mice in my freezer with turgid
Tails and teeth that needed
(“Everyone knows a cat makes things
Vanish quite slowly,
Beginning with the end of the tail and ending
With the grin,
Which remains for some time after
The rest is gone.”)

6. In the Lovely Garden

My garden has a fence, a gate, four
Hydrangeas and a pool,
Where he sat
Dreaming of orange marmalade,
Fishy tasting with no

“Are you hungry?” I asked,
Offering my bare
Foot for washing, I was never
Frightened. His obedient
Grin was the only
Cloud in the blue sky.

“Once,” he said,
“I met an Indian.
She was standing in the wild grass.
Her skirts were wet.
She offered me her fish,
Her hands tasted of salt.”

Later, he told me,
“You are too much in the sun.
Your garden is not perfect.”

7. Evensong

In the west, we sleep
In feather beds, the slow
Accumulation of salt-water birds
Caught drowsing in cat’s nocturnal
And sometimes feel the small
Heart still beating inside.

“When you smile,” he said,
Licking, licking,
“Your teeth look like piano

“I may be your pillar of salt,” I told him,
“But I am not insensitive to night
Music, the smell of flowers,
Your tongue rasping and the west
Wind farting requiem in dormant

Later, I heard him walking up and down,
Avoiding the semi-tones, he was not
That subtle.

8. Anorexic

“You’re thin,” they said, admiring.
Sex life picked up, the moon

“No. Yes, yes.” Moon, I thought,
And then I knew,
If the world was flat, I was definitely
On the edge of it.
This must be my apotheosis.

I began to read my dictionary,
Cat-house, cat-gut, cat o’
Nine tails.
“Did you say, Pussy?”

9. Suffering Catfish

Did you hear, there’s a lake
On a mountain on my island, full
Of fish, their flesh
Licked clean? When you look, you can see
Luminous bones and small
Cinnamon hearts crying out,
“This is my island.”

We like it here.

10. Te Deum

I am hardly more
Than a skeleton myself,
Bones and teeth and a snow white

My grey car sits in the garage,
His marks,
Iridescent on the roof,
A sign, I think, of some supernatural
Interest in my island,
Licked almost clean by cats
With desecrated breath and receding
Finger nails.

He is gone,
Hunting for souls, disguised,
Waits on the same branch near
The same highway.
There are other grey cars, there is still
And the sea is all around us.

11. Valentine

I am not sad.
It is very peaceful here.
Everyone in my family smiles.
Everyone in my family has seen the orthodontist.
I recently received a valentine, it was from a
man who lives by the sea
On the west coast of my island.

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