David McAleavey

Wine ode

Such fluster

getting into the bottle!

—you're curling and fidgeting beside me

one leg

scything over me and away

the rich rut of your arousal in my nose

no, that's a dream, saved

for later, now all I'm doing

is slicing the top off the foil sheath.


I corkscrew

the swollen chunk of shaped bark

out and then we imagine aromas


invisibly into the room;

sometimes I smell the nearly-dripping cork-end

a little cautiously

like checking the kleenex after

blowing my nose, not to miss bad news,


or I whiff

near the dime-size opening

to hear the Lorelei and Sirens sing

so play-

fully confusing my vision;

then the first burst flows into a glass, splashing

like kids in a pool,

one of those inflatable pools,

and the kids, naked toddlers laughing.


The full glass,

though, is no laughing matter

it's like the kids grew up in a hurry

and now

must wait in their maturity

to see if the parents will ever notice

this transformation

which is when we clink and say cheers

and taste the past, the part we can have.


Drinking it's

a leap from footbridge to lake,

the first sip, first swallow, up for air


getting comfortable en route

swimming hole, river, a waving conversation

—we could be tubing

down the rumpled Rappahannock—

amid the ruckus we hug and kiss.


Wine, red wine,

you may be bad but you're good

which makes you a thing like us, to lean on

as the

cello's range is the human voice's

in a different timbre, so the terroir

and varietal

or suggestive blend make ample

preamble—if sometimes, lame excuse.



Recovered from the sea, a statue of a sea nymph who’s just been

slapped by the hard breeze of her sea god. The fragile bronze shows her face

shivered by the jolt, still shivering through two dozen centuries.

Trapped by the sculptor’s gaze, the model's understanding that there is no

escape from such displeasure looks to us like reason to rebel.

Years change things, sure; her fear, her sense of what she's lost, her guilt, is clear.

Shapely as she may have been, beautifully-featured, what she knew

appears to be punishment: she will be hurt. That grief is hers.


ironies which we can tolerate convince us we've escaped, but

following her feeling is regrettably easy; if what she

sees remains what we still have seen, can see —uncaring anger—we

swallow that little pride we’d been feeling from our progress. When it's

gone, we're back to living with our disappointing humanness, the

dawning awareness of brutishness we'd like to hide in the sea.

Pants on the line  

pants on the line     slapping around with rhythm     (wish I were that good)

palms look beaten up     the hyper wind muscular     time to consider

where they'd lift if blown:     onto hibiscus garden?     into salt lagoon?

let them dance for now     those fates aren’t so terrible     calculating risk

they sometimes call it     actuarial science     it incorporates


a risk, an unknown:     a chance they'd fly to the roof     then drop on a truck

carrying debris     from the remodeling work     in Area One

I'd not see them then     my favorite pair of pants     lightweight for travel

which means I'll check them     not when I'd planned to, but now:     practically dry

I've moved the line down     so the laundry's less exposed     Look, neighbors next door

honeymooners ah     where they're sitting I see them     when I look straight out

don't mean to spy, guys     the resort needs customers     I'm just here writing


at least now I see     why I heard noises next door     why they cleaned that room

still a lot of noise     I may need to wear headphones     listen to Mozart

"and etcetera"     (which always amuses me     like the dumb flyer

we got, out walking     near Lee Highway, for a new     restaurant and bar

proud of their     "pre-fixed menu") (not a joke)     now they're quiet, now

David McAleavey's fifth and most recent book is HUGE HAIKU (Chax Press, 2005), and he has had poems in many journals over the years, including Poetry, Ploughshares, and Georgia Review. Recently he's had poems in several dozen journals, both online and in print, including Poetry Northwest, Denver Quarterly, diode poetry journal, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, and Epoch, among other places, and received the Editors' Prize for the best poem in the British online journal Pirene's Fountain in 2011. He teaches literature and creative writing at George Washington University in Washington, DC.



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