Michael H. Lythgoe


Ebony birds float like ballerinas on pointe,

pirouettes; water fowl necks—arabesque—musical, 

jet-wings, sculptures swim, sable marble

moored near the shore line below Pike's Peak,

an onyx fleet, boats under raven sails;

charcoal swans link in a love-heart of mysterious

curves, cues; envision long low necks, a ritual 

meant to seduce, a dipping synchronous

mirror image, cob and pen coupleferal,

ornamental, symbols of a perfect storm, disastrous;

black swans mean a surprise, the unexpected, unreal—

Sandy—black lacquer paddlers, black pearls

in a pitch pigment painting, reminiscent of a flotilla:

a wound blooms in London, a drift of open black umbrellas.


Bosom With Lizard

I touch my tumor like a charm.
—Christian Wiman

The Iguana Woman in Key West wears
her lizard on a hat. The boy in San Juan
offers his for sale. The Blue Iguana
is a bistro in Vienna. Lunch on the border
in a Chipotle mood, poblano with guacamole.
Drink a dark cerveza with lime from Mexico.

Her blouse opens. A lizard scales precipice,
comes to rest in the crevice
of her bosom. Her cleavage bears a scar,
as a petroglyph adorns a cave wall, mars
a rock; her curves, her bosom bears a carving
meant to heal. But to burnish is not to finish.

A body is a landscape; the Mojave
desert is gouged by a downpour,
an arroyo remains, closed by threads
like sand through the needle's eye,
but over-heals, shows scar tissue.
The lizard scar feels like fine leather
tooled smooth, Cordovan, decoration
knots over seam and incision.

Some tribes scar warriors and women.
The Zuni carve a fetish, a turtle
in Picasso Marble; art and spell
in hand-fashioned stone rattlesnake
with inlay accents, ornately etched.

Feel the reptile in the skin.
To excise a tumor we cleave
the bosom; we leave a beauty mark.
Give benediction to a body's scars.
Kiss the landscape of the right breast
pink, rose-granite, wound above aureole.

Michael H. Lythgoe was nominated for a pushcart prize in 2012. His chapbook, Brasss, won the Kinloch Rivers contest in 2006. His full collection, Holy Week, is available from B&N.com as an ebook. Lythgoe received an MFA from Bennington College after service as an Air Force officer. His essay on the obsessions of artists received a literary award from the Porter Fleming Foundation in 2011. He has recent work in Windhover, Slant, The Caribbean Writer, Spillway, Cairn, The Santa Fe Review, Verge, and Petigru Review. Mike lives in Aiken, SC.



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