waiting for the max

she leans against a post
waiting for the downtown train
puffs her cigarette
in short nervous bursts
pushes a web of blonde hair
from her once-pretty
addiction-pocked face
pale blue eyes darting
furtively seek some escape
brush mine
for the briefest encounter
I feel her wet tears
against my cheekbone
taste their salt on my tongue
I want to say to her
we are all drowning, my dear
as if this cliché
might be some comfort
as if those eyes
given a hold
would not pull
even a swimming man under

© 2005, duane poncy

from the skin

I enter the belly
of the cross-town train
        across from me
a young soldier
is gazing at Portland
        grim and gray
I look to see
what he is seeing
and what I see
is the crumbling
        of modernity
clinging desperately
to the old city inside
which is trying
to shed its itching skin

I’m suddenly aware
that under the plaster
lies something
closer to the truth
        old streams
that still travel their ancient course
breaking down bones
of wooley mammoths
killed by the last chthonic belch
this old tooth of a city
        I see
                no fossil
but some living carnivore
long thought extinct
like the methane beast
that waits in the bogs
beneath the Siberian permafrost
ready to devour
these latest upstarts
to challenge its dominion

in the newspaper
I read that the river
has swallowed a farmers field
        the storm
has swallowed a city
monsters have emerged
from the skin
of old and brittle men
who sacrifice to the dragon
this tender young flesh
which so willingly goes
into the gullet
to the flashing teeth

© 2005, duane poncy