September 2002 / Volume Three / Issue One
Janet I. Buck
All These Missing Irises

An old man loved is winter with flowers.

There are no colors in this tomb.
Rubber gloves protrude from pockets.
Tubes and rolling chairs abound.
Where are all your relatives
in stark and rattled hour of need?
This cold stone “home”
ungracious to your
prehistoric aching thighs.
Their dinosaurs, their leather flesh.
Unforgiven dwindling
turns you like a nurse’s aid,
keeps a grave from biting you.
I want the mail to bring you things,
some coupon of a child’s love.
Mouths, a chalice foaming death.
Spittle of the summer weeds
a gardener is raking into plastic sacks.

You idle on the picnic bench,
doubled over, wadded paper,
scribbling your private terror.
Your blouse is a bubble that pops.
No one seems to stop and learn
from whittled moons and shaded suns.
Photos in a tattered wallet–
all you own for company.
“Cast me in a nicer play”
your vocal chords implore the sky.
A bed becomes a jail cell.
Your fingers pick the lock and live.
Every move a trite escape from destiny.
Just across the parking lot,
toddlers play beneath a cloud.
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