Issue 10: Bernard Henrie
As though Evening Flowed into Night from an Overturned Jar
and lay itself
across the moody sofa and chair.
Stars fall across the feeble moons;
First Spica speeding and alcoholic.
Leo Minor, blond and autistic like me.
Disheveled stars like men hurrying
to a second job. The choked light glistens
on horse statues and taxis black as tuxedos.
A nightlong drizzle, a hint of stubbed cigar
in the elevator; flower pots orphaned
on my damp, second-story landing.
Watching at the window I am a surgeon
who lights a cigarette after losing a patient;
The night soft as oiled cloth.
The night soft as writing ink.
With my father’s fountain pen I write down
everything I remember.
Rain follows my taxi from Manchester Piccadilly
My mother will be buried in the storm, black umbrellas
keep her dry, a stiff navy dress buttoned to the neck.
A Merlion spits water into falling rain.
Her face wistful like a girl in the Corps de Ballet.
I’ve saved two photos, a speech in Hyde Park
for the suffragettes and a pose marked
Egyptian Camel as she visited the pyramids.
Plunging rain, no relief; half-plugged drains, pelted
zinnias in stained flower boxes, the early light drawn
with a child’s soft chalk.
My empty 3 AM poems. The BOAC bag
of clean underwear pouched on the dresser.
I visit my publisher, the ramshackle offices
are dark as the Muslim Brotherhood just taking
power this month in Cairo.
Rain Slipping off Leaves Onto Metal Roofs*
The white plaster of St. Botolph's
is rough to the touch, four windows
cut into the façade where rain slips down.
Lemon yellow lamps shaped like candles
line the entrance walk; the harsh atrium
feels interrupted and spills over with cold.
The nativity is illuminated by a single
beam from the skylight; a chalice
silver as a dinner knife stands ready.
The wooden benches hunch
on the stone floor and many seem
to have been removed leaving
uneven gaps as when a man snarls
baring rotted teeth to the gums.
The exposed walls are deeply stained
by soot and long jags of brown water;
the ancient lead drains blocked
here and there by a leafless branch.
Birds sleep and rest in the upper
sanctorum; Father Legge-Bourke
tends an elderly parishioner
I drift into memory and desire,
the damp debris of London.
Near the rectory office with its
striped and donated couch,
near the futile space heater,
I imagine God sits hearing prayers.
Now and then God sends out
a puff of warming tobacco smoke
and through glass, vaporous air
speaks to me.
At some distance we stand off
from the gold crocus-petals
of St. Botolph’s robed gown.
The grammar she uses is pointing.
Slow motion, like spilling olive oil.
A habit, I suppose.
I didn’t take it down, but something
gradually, we are accustomed
to the masque.
The tide of evening on the oblong chair
and dark magazines. I lean close to listen.
I like everything you do,
you don’t have to ask.
Instrumental theme; no need for words,
your eyes can read.
The grammar she uses is pointing:
hands and arms blowing, blowing
in oversize sleeves.
Mellifluous, slow motion, olive oil.
A habit, I suppose.
Bernard Henrie is a Los Angeles based currency trader; publication credits include Apple Valley Review, Cha, Boston Literary Magazine, Cortland Review, MiPOesias, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Shampoo, and Soundzine.