19 August 1989
Last Exit on Brooklyn
On piano her fingers are weaving
a fragile tune for purple butterfly
but outside stain glass window
car of a man in a clean grey suit
nearly runs over a trotting kitten.
Without missing a beat girl shrieks
when small and frightened cat
leaps into people-crowded window.
Coffee drinkers pour from doors
of Last Exit coffee house on Brooklyn
and gather chattering on hot sidewalk
to examine wounded creature of night.
Human fingers and tongues of flies
caress blood of its broken neck.
An old Jewish man with a beard
flowing at his chest bows his head
and weeps when he sees its blank eyes.
They remind him of his little sister
who was raped and shot by Germans
when they invaded Russia one afternoon
forty years before. Sorrows of life
he wails never cease to plague our hearts.
His granddaughter, slim piano girl,
bangs on discordant keys a few times
that batter soft walls of their ears
with storms of a cool summer night.
Her boyfriend Brent, a loud painter
at espresso counter, paints a series
in purple, red, orange, green, and blue
of furry frightened cats with wings
and giant steel blocks of cars.
Brent sells each fire-furious painting
for two hundred dollars. Next year
she bears her Brent a pretty daughter
and buys her a black cuddly kitten.
Lost in black storm cloud, she prays
for ministry of refreshing rain.
When storm has spent its frustration
sky will be clear and golden blue,
and air sweet with scent of pines,
she hopes, folding her hands with faith.
Was that name of her secret lover
carved by rays of perfect sunlight
on side of a flat granite mountain?
Or was that just flash of a wing
on a cold sparrow hawk against blue sky?
Whether flame of a sharp wing
or purity of white transcendence,
she feels her heart to be fulfilled,
even in this moment of consumption.
Kitten combs her hair with gentleness
of sad fairies, and washes her face
to hide tears of crystal blood,
then she clothes her slim nude body
in a torn dress. This is her readiment
for long eager arms of cold death.
As her eyes dim in mist of death,
dark sky clears and red blazing sun
sparkles in dew on fresh spring grass.
Small black kitten relaxes on tomb
of her sleep, licking its pink paws.