Mark Belair is a drummer and percussionist based in New York City.
His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals,
including The Distillery, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review,
Mudfish, Slipstream, The South Carolina Review, and The Sun. His poem,
"The Word," was nominated for a 2008 Pushcart Prize and his chapbook
collection, Walk With Me, has been accepted for publication by Parallel
Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. For further information,
A fierce rain batters the awning of the small café.
Nobody coming or going.
I sip espresso as the tall, wide windows stream;
as the disheveled cook, pouring wine for himself,
strolls out of the kitchen
Strangers talk easily from table to table
of this unexpected development.
The pert waitress plops down at the bar like just another customer
and chats with the cook and gradually appearing kitchen help.
The feeling--our formal roles disappearing with the downpour--
is that, for the here and now, we're all in this together.
We'll resume our old parts when the rain tapers off,
soon forgetting this brief interlude.
Unless, maybe, one of us, on our death bed,
smelling rain coming,
finds this gentle interruption
what we suddenly, oddly, remember.
The wooded lakeshore
to the flat
planet of water
inhabited in depth, its glossy
surface offering to the sky
a moon-plain face, keeping from
the eye of the sun it needs
the darkness it needs
to keep itself
cool, wriggling, flowing, complete.
The sickroom air was stale
with the unavoidable smells
of someone dying and when
our elderly neighbor--who'd
called us at 1:30 a.m. for help--
tilted a dishpan toward me
sloshing blood issuing from
her older sister, I turned away
and after the hard decisions
had been made had to leave
the room for the blood had
struck me as the color of
menstrual blood, as if her
sister had surrendered
one final egg she'd been
hiding and hoarding these
40 years since menopause;
given up her last, perverse,
has been cold for quite
a while and no sooner do we
put our sweaters on than we hear,
beyond our reading, a low, deep, faraway
snap, cool as the cue that comes from the fingertips
of a leaning-in bass singer in a doo-wop group, then more
snaps rise closer and higher in pitch, like other crooners creating
a cacophonous beat, baritone gurgles following, tenor whooshes
piping in, then a hot hiss of falsetto steam tops it all off
and my warming wife, snuggling into herself, smiles
and it seems unfair that itís the falsetto, though
dependent on everyone else for results, who
always gets the girl.
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