V.P. CROWE

★ ★ ★ ★

POETRY

Among Friends

They grow dark, unwelcome,
these things that are not you;
the space they inhabit, too empty
without the words, the looks, the laughter
dropped like ripe fruit in February
to sharpen or sate my hunger.

Too often now, I see your shape
in others’ words, shadowed
between egg-shaped ash
and memories of thirst.
Cold, comfortless creatures
born of naked moments,
held fast in the vise
of all the things I tried too hard to say,
they whisper unkind truths,
jagged, left unhoned.
And knowing better, still I try
to slap them, scream them, shame them
back into the darkness.
Sometimes, they go.

Snapshot
of a lost child, fear cloaked
in quiet, black denim dignity.

And I think I should have told you
that your practiced touch here,
and here, and here
was too much so.

Snapshot
of a single tear
leaked from walls too quickly built,
far enough away to call fatigue, a speck of dust,
anything but loneliness, or grief.

And I think I should have told you
of the beauty that your closed eyes
lent to Carmen.

Snapshot
of a sly tendril
that crept away while you were lost in thought,
curled motionless to contemplate
the same depths that once held me.

And I, safe in my corner,
armed with pen and thought and shielded
by candlelight, could smile at you again.
Then, they were light, formless, easily brushed aside
with the strand you tucked so carelessly
behind your ear.

Snapshot
of a jeweled hand,
fledgling butterfly hovering over yours
then quick, withdrawn.

Across the room, I felt her quickened pulse and,
glad for both of you, at last
I let you go.

And so you went, and left behind these things
that are not you, vile spirits
that have everything and nothing
to do with you, though they speak
in your dry wit and silent, searing hunger,
blow cold February
through nights of warmth and laughter

leave me, spirits

and words and words,
fallen, ripe and rotting, their sheen
a distant gleam of polished jewels
piercing closed lids

leave me, please

and words and words,
drifting, catching, blue balloons
that gray, and shift, and follow

let me be

and words and words,
pale soliloquies I clutch and mold
and somehow cannot shape
into anything but you

begone

and words and words,
blowing February cold across this warm hearth,
through the pages of my books
and into shadow.

Balance

Sometimes, when it’s easy,
when life and love and dreams
are more than words, more than enough,
I think I haven’t thought of you in days.

Then a laugh, a whisper,
a familiar turn of face, of phrase
and there you are,
as sharp,
clear,
cutting,
as if the pictures hadn’t faded,
as if our memories were the same,
as if you had wanted more of me
than laughter, metaphor and sweet,
sweet flesh and I am falling, grasping,
gasping for cool, clean air.

I know that I am missing something here,
some meaning lost in stridence
as the angel peering over my left shoulder
claws and spits and snarls
at the muse perched on my right.
I wonder if I truly wish their silence.

And you, keeping yours,
as if to speak would twang the rope
too tightly, break the symmetry
of shadows waiting open-mouthed below.

Musing sigh,
slow shake of head
and downcast eyes.
An angel chuckles
softly.

V.P. Crowe writes and sometimes reads her poetry in the Dallas, TX area, and has served locally on the board of the Dallas Poets Community. Her work has been published in Illya’s Honey, the Red River Review, Electron Press, Texas Poetry Calendar, and assorted anthologies. She lives in the suburbs with a mad scientist and a houseful of fur.

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