Blackbox Manifold

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 Taxi

Rain follows my taxi from Manchester Piccadilly

to Didsbury.

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.


*Anne Damrosch

Deaf Nomenclature

The grammar she uses is pointing.

Slow motion, like spilling olive oil.

A habit, I suppose.

I didn’t take it down, but something

like this:

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.