HomeAboutMastheadJoin POW ListserveDonateArchive
Nicole Cuddeback


The New Husband


At sundown bats flurry round the rooftops

like flustered angels.  Blessing isn't easy.


As a child in the soup of the Gulf,

how the mouths of fish bumped along my shin.


The lingering of those slick forms at the skin's verge

seemed like a grace, a border world tapping


for that thing alone in the body.  Tonight I see

it's solitude I've forgotten.  Without it


the loneliness brims.  The shipwreck sun dips

as the doors of the drab balconies open


like night blooms, and the bats sort their black-outs

of divine and diverge.  Whatever it is they do


they let it look like recklessness.

Lashing the dusk to the fish-boned crosses


of antennas trolling the heavens, the bats veer

around the wire as if reeling in


on pieces of cages.  Jagged wounds retraced

all night, nearly touched, nearly crashed through to.


Tonight I'm raw as the twilight, craving

crash.  Wholeness.  Blunder of some featherless wing.


Son of Medea   


Sunlight sang through the thick door's crack.

            And I heard her words,

                         yet chose not to wake my brother,


the one content to toss his ball

            eternally.  Sad

                         is what they called me, wandering


the streets far as I was allowed,

            and then I would go

                         one more.  Both mother and father,


but more mother, dark of eye, hand.

             My face hers, they said.

                         Unworried, forgetful brother,


sleep on.  Your death is dead.  Mine spreads,

             ravels like spring clouds.

                         Mother/father, sky/field, wave/rock,


when will men see how unions are

             impossible, birth

                         proof of nothing, no link of life.


Small likeness, but hollow.  Circle

             around the failure

                         to incarnate.  Imaginings


can't agree with flesh.  Father went.

             How could we have lived?

                         Invalid promises.  He'd bring


toys: stuffed, golden lambs of wool-scrap

             sewn to suck at love,

                         kiss-worn, stitch-lip feigning, teaching


what it is to love fleece borne to

             hearth fire.  We're the scorch

                        of dislodged bones, the joint dissolved.


Mother, Father survive, wither,

             wander.  Forever

                        children, we live in death's black nut,


gardens at night.  No ichor here.

             I'm gift gown, burnt crown,

                        wrath's volume, passion's girth.  Canyons


for a gut, a child of divorce,

             a grave.  But the clouds

                        I waved arms I could not move.  Wisps


of shaggy cirrus couched our craft.

             As if drowsed, I strained

                        to admire the jade sun-dragons,


the approving blue of the sky,

             to sit up, reach for

                        those splendid serpents!  Mother's arm


cradled my small back; I could not

            feel it there.  Pretty,

                        feathery sun ramyes, my death


was radiantdazzling spiral

            of horns, you came late.

                        Now I'm alone.  The beguiling


symbols gone.  I am no longer

            damned as their love.  Freed

                        from belief in what cannot be.


                    -from The Saint of Burning Down