Rose Petals in a Blue Bowl

A swatch of sunlight slips
over my shoulder. On the wall
a reflection of steam rises from my tea-
like smoke from a small fire
or the spiral from your cigarette
just before you touched my arm.

* * *

It’s like big, fat Danny Garrido
and my fly weight brother, Butchie, fighting
on the sidewalk in front of St. Luke’s
over a bad stickball call
on a hot night. They push and shove each other,
punch each other with balled fists,
kick each other till Butchie falls backwards,
maybe smashes his head against the hydrant,
against the gravelly cement. Like a dog
with spit dripping from his lips,
Danny shuffles side to side,
punches air like Jersey Joe Walcott;
then he knees Butchie in the chest
who squirms like an upended turtle
in sand, pummels his face until he sees blood
and snot stream from his nose.
Danny is happy to see the blood,
to see Butchie cry, happy to hear the other kids
hooting and hollering above him in a circle,
“Get the bastard! Get the bastard!”
“Give,” Danny says, “Give or I’ll knock out
your fucking teeth, you bastard.”
Danny the bully’s so dumb he doesn’t realize
he’s the bastard. I cross
myself and swear to Jesus, Mary
and St. Joseph, I’ll make him pay.

* * *

The Gardener of Annie B Street is Gone

As though it awaits his return,
the honeysuckle-choked cub tractor,
a red-beached hull, hugs the corner
under the willow of the quarter-acre plot.

Like the gardener whose knees creaked
and eyes clouded, its smooth running
four cylinder no longer thrums.
Intestines exposed, its headlights
glaucomaed in noon day sun.

The garden, too, has gone to seed.
Zucchini emulsifies, snap beans yellow
on the vine and chili peppers pine,
hors d’oeuvres for bores and worms.

A gaggle of unused tomato cones tangle
by the chicken wire fence. Peaches
that his broken-hipped wife would have cobbled
with brown sugar and clotted cream
clump at the foot of the tree.