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Douglas K Currier






Night VII

Night again.  She gets in late,

sheds the halter top and jean shorts,

short enough to have no home

for pockets, takes a cold shower.

Activity around the one kiosko

on the block finished, everything

locked down except the dogs

and the whores, no more money

for a shared beer, a coke, she goes

to her single bed, naked under

a rotating fan that will work until

a rolling blackout parks over the barrio.


And the black branches trailing in the living water

stirred slowly with the change of air.

Piropos, you said, El aire les hace piropos.

“Next to Nothing”  Paul Bowles

The breeze whispers, and who doesn’t

appreciate a compliment from far away,

carried in countless waves to the ear.

It’s not that we’re beautiful; it’s that we’re

wanted – un piropo: the catcall, spontaneous,

shouted compliment, vulgar suggestion.

The way the breeze caresses us – shifts our shirts,

tousles our hair, dries our neck – of course,

that’s love of the sort we’ve longed for.

The wind is love, courts us, whispers promises

and obscenities, slaps leaves to get our attention,

but we’re married to the earth, her claim.


I am the wrong direction, the dead nerve-end,

the unfinished scream.

“Next to Nothing”      Paul Bowles

I am your reflection, the morning after indiscretion in lurid light shared with doubt.

I am in your bed, exhausted from using you, the parts that can be used under the guise of love.

I am your fetid thoughts of age, of what’s coming – your swiftly expiring use to anyone.

I am the fourth symptom – a weariness bred of life, fatigue, the child of constant intercourse,

the rhythmic fucking of Hope, by her brother, Despair.

I am the worry in your eyes, your listless hair, the lines about your mouth, age spots

on your skin, the droop of your breasts, your graying cunt.

I am your bad habits, your wrong men, your awful choices, your paltry, cowardly vices, your

indifferent indiscretions, your forgotten transgressions, your incipient, silly, sluttiness.

I am your eye shadow, your underwire bra, your lip gloss, your bottled scent, your

self-delusion, your imagined happy ending.


Today bleeds into tomorrow,

just on the water rings yesterday left on the desk.

Every Friday, though not identical, resembles every

other, the entire Friday family – the anticipatory,

ingenuous drool, as the light dries and darkness beckons.

Ah, the aftershave – Old Spice, the one evening we smelled

of our fathers, without the beer-soaked weariness of the week.

And the soft mystery of girls, and the unpredictable

alcohol that older boys, men, would buy for us

or that we stole from the coolers of corner stores.

I can tell you about Fridays.  I dated one for a while – moist

lips, wet tongue, soft breasts – back when we closed

our eyes for everything not Saturday morning.

Monday, that bitch, wouldn’t even give us the time of day.



Is an art, like everything else.

“Lady Lazarus” Sylvia Plath

Even unsought, death is a creative effort,

and it is important to accept the clichéd lament,

the stilted pésame, and any wordless grief.

We know we have lost a color, a note, a word

no longer uttered with that precise authority.

Often, choice of medium is short notice.

Are we oils that take time to finish

or the spontaneous acrylics, best as a smudged charcoal,

a sharper ink, a simple pencil sketch, watercolor boceto?

We’ve largely lost the habit of singing our deaths

– a simple tune of the lived – set as we are to leave

at least a trace, a mound of earth that signifies

something buried here.  Kaddish, native tribal death songs

belong too much to the wind. We’ve learned to commemorate

even though it always wastes to vulgarity and artifice.

We’ve learned to be satisfied with lip service

and false emotion – an eternity of art.


We, who believe in second and third chances,

in do-overs, in mulligans of all sorts, must believe in purgatory.

God-given hand up, boost from below that gets us past,

above even, our sins, into the celestial.  Atonement is an end

in itself, but not without a carrot, a reward, time off for good

behavior, good intentions.  We’re sorry, sincerely, to be dead

but still called to account for those petty vices we thought

everyone had and thus were normal, everyday occurrence.


Pain, boredom, bliss wash out to a threadbare sameness in the end.

If Hell is other people, life is Purgatory, and death – Heavenly.


Verano, ya me voy. Y me dan pena

las manitas sumisas de tus tardes.

Llegas devotamente; llegas viejo;

y ya no encontrarás en mi alma a nadie.

“Verano” César Vallejo

It’s only after summer leaves,

we know the extent of her lies

– long, languorous days, sun

and promise of sun, optimism

for the next idyllic, the next

pause in an otherwise hectic year.

No one ages in summer; no one dies

– all is corrected for temperature

and skies blue, sunsets red, early

mornings with a ghost of moon.

And summer nights, where a soft

darkness lingers, hides lovers in

the open air, prey to stars

and breezes and a leering old moon.

Summer leaves tired, love-spent,

tucking bits of belief and hope

into her bikini bottom.

Sleeping with death

We have slept with death all our lives.

“Seen from Above” Jack Gilbert

Hers is the form we feel in bed when we wake

at 3:00 to converse with our watching dead.

Hers is the shape on the pillow -- mornings

before sunrise. We leave cab fare on the night table.

She never takes it. She watches us dress, notes

the age spots and thinning hair, thickening bulk

and confusion as we step into our sockless shoes,

sit to pull on trousers, tuck in our t-shirts.

Ah, but at night, she locks the house, she tucks

us in, rocks us to sleep, finds an extra blanket,

sings of mothers and those who used to love us.

About the Poet

Douglas K Currier holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and writes poetry in English and Spanish.  He has published in several journals: Comstock Review, Café Review, Main Street Rag, Stone, Poetica Revie, and Erothanatosamong others. Author of four collections of poetry in Spanish and two in English: “Senorita Death” and “Death Studies.” He lives with his wife in Winooski, Vermont, and Corrientes, Argentina.

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