Three Poems by Cassandra Dallett

Julia Vinograd: The very definition of poet 

 

Sending her words out in iridescent bubbles,
down streets lined with houseless
beggars, students getting preppier every year.
Julia was a constant.
unchanged, poet to the bone.
She wrote, and wrote, and wrote –
a book for every year.
With pained legs, and few resources
but the poets and her sister
who rallied to help—
to keep her in her colorful nest of
crystals, stained glass, and poems
old phone and typewriter
to remind us where we came from.
We brought cordless phones, & a word processor
into a kitchen more books than food.
A Zeitgeist in her own right she had
a publisher dedicated to her words.
All those years, all those books.
All I can tell you is she looked intimidating.
I felt judged as all young poets did
by her stern glare, nut shells spit on the floor.
But when Julia liked you
you knew you had m.
the approval of an icon
of the underworld,
of nit & grit
& quality.
She did not hold her tongue
or bother with false niceties.
She was real,
weird & proud,
tough & sweet.
She filled the world with the soft glow
of bubbles & poems
like some kind of beatnik angel
spreading beauty on the winds
of Telegraph.

____________

 

When Talking Pasta

 

my friend asks about “mouth-feels”
mouth-feels sets
off talk of food & sex & food as good as sex . The tinder chef
comes to mind,
the way he falls back on his legs
like I’ve never seen,
his huge dick jutting straight out
each time I’m wondering if it’s even real.
Then I take him in,
he fits impossibly, smoothly, made for me, all the pain delicious.
I compare it to the dry and rushed sex
I had somewhere else.
Not sopping wet & throaty like this,
not his whispered
“yes”
We profess love to body parts. Swear
how good it is to him,
how good it is to me.
How I would suffocate on it.
How I am.
& when I can’t take it anymore, up to my neck happily,
he plates me on the bed, moves me around, strong armed & in control.
He slaps me red & burning.
With him I never feel fat & old, but
perfectly ripe & juicy.
My bruises a badge to keep,
when he’s gone back to his kitchens-
to cook & measure.
His mis en place, flaming pans, cool walk-ins, to scald, braise, & sauté.
Each time I kiss him a silent goodbye
his Uber idling,
I know it might be the last.

____________

 

Living on the Edge is Birdlike 

(for Brad)

As teenagers, we used to drink
on the roof of Lonnie’s Hotel in the Tenderloin,
on the Ping Yuen projects in Chinatown,
on the Cliffs out in Richmond
a cliff is a cliff even under water
there is darkness, the bottom unknown.
we know blue skin
black hole eyes.
We lived close to death
tried to sleep up on the elevator shaft till the fog came in.
Perched on bathtub,
I said
let’s live needle tip life, syringe slice,
we used broken glass, and pills,
pushed down flights on late nights,
we got high, chests ruffled, invincible.
I kept my worry tucked under a wing.
I don’t miss who you’d become,
but who we were, when at sixteen
you got that job at McDonalds,
brought home bags of cheeseburgers
n’ hid them under my bed.
The ants found them first, but I never loved a cheeseburger more
than your smile and the bounce of your curls.
If you’d grown wings
they couldn’t have put you in the cage,
where you returned
caught and clipped year after year.
My bones are calcified-survival,
molting and staying nearer the middle of rooftops
or down on the sidewalk.
I heard you lived under one
where the dope had hardened you cruel.
I felt responsible like,
if I hadn’t left you back in the cheeseburger days
things could be different
Who am I fooling
my drug of choice was men.
They were just as destructive.
You would have hurt me but I cheated first,
I could feel it coming
Pink Floyd building a wall blankets around me.
You came home late and admitted kissing the sister
of a girl, we called Hoe Anne
We called the sister Spider Legs

after her mascara
They were fast girls like us, raising ourselves,
young outlaws banded together.
You were made for it-
sunshine smile, looking like trouble,
fly boy not meant for this earth.
Some people can’t live the day to day dull,
must live razor edge till pulled plug.
That last shot like coming home.
She beat you down this time
took the light and left an empty sack
where your golden used to be.

____________

 

 

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