by John Horvath TONIGHT I am yours ‘til earth crumbles
too soon, too soon it crumbles
dogs howling along the streets
bitches marking their discontent
too soon it crumbles, too soon
be mine ‘til moonfall and daybreak
WORRY ABOUT A LOVER WHO EAGERLY RUSHES TO WORK EACH MORNING I feel she does not love me as she had so long ago;
It’s not some thing she’s said or done, but something that I know
Deep in my heart and soul. I feel she doesn’t love me so
Delay to ask the question whose answer will make me go.Every morning when I awake she is already gone
Greedily to work: it’s not the pay nor respect she’s won:
One lover is not enough for a woman who is blonde.
She does not love me; I will go. I shall go soon, be gone.Love is a frightful thing to own; it mingles jealousy
Inside itself with unsaid thoughts to make false memory.
Before the sun is down at end of day, there is no WE
“In love”; for, love has turned to lust and sex revengefully.
“Damned Bear” she calls me when back home: so eagerly –
Oh, how she craves – my tearing off her clothes for sex, you see.She makes me worry just to have me at the end of day.
What’s left is right when we set right imagined wrongs.
As age enfolds, it is the only game we still will play.
REVE doctoring smallish parts,
color of tablecloth whose
frayed edges flag in mid-
day summer breeze when we
met alongside creek built
dams under trees despite
humming insects, ignoring
water giggling over slate
and bedrock, into evening
insect infested when we
hurried to your apartment
to disrobe to examine what
new marks might lay claim
to our having been together
that summer day at creek-
side by tables covered in
green clothe whose frayed
threads waved to us good-
bye because love doctors
memory so happily ever…
TOO YOUNG, TOO SHORT FOR LOVE at night alone, though proud of his
accomplishment, he lay in bed and wondered
whether he’d been her first, a face and name,
a man forever set apart from other men or had
there been a someone else for whom
she moaned, for whom her arms were meant?
He’d never know, like other men before him
never knew as would those coming after
know where he had been among her list
of long forgotten names. I’d very like
to know, he said almost aloud (the faintest
echo upon his bedroom ceiling broke
and all its fragments were absorbed
by this or that apparel he had too often
promised he would clean and straighten
up). Weren’t there more important things
that he should be about? And, what about
those thoughts that needed close attention
in his unmade bed at night? He rose from
failed sleep in the middle of the night
to phone. It rang and rang and rang quite
much; he figured that she wasn’t home.Where had she gone? To someone else’s house?
No, he’d left her dead, there was nothing
He should fret about. She couldn’t move.
A petit death, the angels must have lifted
her to heaven when he fell asleep upon
her naked flesh dark as almonds, sweet
as cane, roiling like a rapid river during flood.And yet… There was no blood. Was that a sign?
He’d heard it was the mark of first fling
or something near to that. My god, sixteen’s
a bitch of time for having sex! No. Hard
as he thought, there was no blood, nor even
a small sign of it. He called her once again.The phone rang once. Her muffled voice
as if from deepest sleep was there. And,
when he told her his thoughts then asked
whether he’d been first, she’d said, “Don’t
trouble your sad self all night with that;
you were the first and probably the last;
now don’t call back.” So there he sat.
Where he had thought. Alone at night.What was the name she gave him amid
the rampage of his love and lust: did
she call out “Swarthy” or “Shorty”
(he didn’t know; he likely never would).
He stayed awake all starry night.
ORIOS WITHOUT HIS CHOSEN LADY Orios on the morning of the twelfth
pretends he is not alone in bed,
has never been; his large hands
reach across linen to a stuffed pillow
soft and round, encased in the scent
of secret perfume, the kind she wore
when they had met then been together
(lovers unexpectedly she’d thought,
although he knows the shape and bulk
and use of words, how one might
lead if wed correctly to the next
to this so soft block, his roomy bed
of soundless delights). He swore
at emptiness then closed his eyes
against the fact that she had left
long before dawn on cattish toes,
without a whisper of goodbye, no kiss
(Orios had pretended sleep; he knew
she’d rise and walk against growing old
with him, perhaps together until death).She had moved nimble without a sound.
He’d heard her breath, as if she feared
that he might wake and strike her down
(oh, yes, he wished he had) or bar
her exit (that too he wished) to hold
her always at his side. Orios alone
again at morning shaves his crooked
jaw and looks upon an ugly face. Its
nose half flat against his cheeks, ears
too grand and pendular.Squinty eyes too narrow and too dark,
like blackened peas; his hair unkempt.
But he was large and muscular so that
in dimlit places late at night he might
be taken for quite a catch. Soft-spoken
too. He knew words’ shape and bulk
and use so used them well in order
to entice his chosen lady to his lair.
But once– just this once– he wished
the woman he had chosen would
remain despite the truth of ugliness
that had appeared near dawn. Why get
out and go about a normal day as if
he were a man and not a beast?
Or, perhaps, it is the beast in each
of us, Orios thought, that makes
us act instinctively toward work and
lust. She would be back. Or, another
would soon take her place. Each
morning he would make that bet. About the Author: Mississippian John Horváth Jr publishes internationally since the 1960s (recently in Munyori Review (Zimbabwe); Broad River Review (print). Pyrokinection, Pink Litter, and Olentangy Review). After Vanderbilt and Florida State universities, “Doc” Horváth taught at historically Black colleges. Since 1997, to promote contemporary international poetry, Horváth edits www.poetryrepairs.com. .