I live near Boston and teach philosophy at Boston University. Besides academic pieces, I write fiction (when I’m up to it) and poems (when I can’t help it). I use a fountain pen—my link to tradition—and write to music. I’ve published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals. A new story collection, Heiberg’s Twitch, is forthcoming.
All life is shamelessly on display
in halter-tops, myrtle blooms,
as if bared flesh were normal, erupting
spirea, impudent smooth thighs;
sober grey magnolia branches break out
in sudden tulip truths like jokes of which
every punch line is protean Eros.
Why not come outside and play?
Shamelessly on display
forsythia and daffodil
are so yellow that they will
fill your dark cup up with sun;
young bodies ripe for fun
might do much to persuade
even you to join the parade.
Still, in May I’m less happy than I might
be not because it’s the month when even
teenagers look innocent as new shoots,
green rising up the grass like fever,
when lovers hover on tiptoe and lean
runners grin as they grimace by; not
because it’s the month when men fold their arms
and chat over mowers on Saturday
mornings, surveying suburbia with
May has nothing to do
with it really; May’s just a screen time
breezes through searching for festivals,
processions whose music is a tender
energetic march; it’s dripping locust
trees rejoicing in birds, choice month for
offensives and memorials. Though May’s
merely a menu, not a meal, yet
even for the happy to be sad in
florid yellow barefaced May is sad.
“In May” first appeared in Denver Quarterly
A banker found naked in a ditch.
Surplus suspects, mostly rich.
The coroner grouses, “What next?”
The missing nose leaves him perplexed.
The fever makes my knees go soft.
My whole spine shudders when I cough.
Every interviewee is a liar.
In fifteen years I can retire.
The woman in my life isn’t in it.
A crime with no one on whom to pin it
Isn’t exactly what I need.
I’d pay cash for one decent lead.
Now the Commissioner’s on my case;
Blow-dried reporters in my face.
My partner sulks behind a frown.
God, these walls are a vile brown.
My woolly mind is closing down.
In her pied-à-terre I met the niece,
A tease, coquette, a brazen piece
Who inveigled me loquaciously
And spoke almost salaciously
Then stretched herself bodaciously,
Dead sure I’d give her a pass
Once I glimpsed that heart-shaped ass.
The noseless banker was a crook.
Money everywhere so he took.
He bought his cocaine where he shouldn’t.
Perhaps he had to pay and couldn’t.
The niece spent weekends in his bed.
His wife despised him, now he’s dead.
I wake at three to car alarms.
The city writhes between the arms
Of suburbs with clean streets . . . then farms
With lambs, broad fields of wheat and oats,
A river full of river boats,
Then mountains swell in frozen motion,
Then comes the beach, at last the ocean.
My lungs feel queer, so do my bowels.
The floor is thick with sweaty towels.
At six I struggle to my feet.
My head’s a sun of sizzling heat.
Bad dreams fade in polluted air.
The bathroom’s blinds, a watty glare.
The mirror mocks me while I shave.
I know I’m powerless to save,
A detective who can’t detect.
What do I serve and whom protect?
“Blue Flu” first appeared in Chiron Review
©2015 Robert Wexelblatt