—for Tom

Here, the silence in the wide hall complicates your nights.
You wake, search rooms for sounds of need.
Here, now, the absence of the shush of rubber wheels on tile,
the metal chair cradling the birdlike body, her ethereal eyes.
Here, the empty bed, its metal rail, its buttons, a bell.
perfume gone bronze in its bottle, her hairbrush, her paintings.
Here, the unspeakable lightness of grief.

©JP Reese, 2001
Currently at Used Furniture Review



Night’s body submits
to daybreak’s caress.
The sun slides over
the shoulders of the hills.
Light enters the valley
and travels in waves,
warming the skin of the river.
Surrender to the senses,
savor the taste, the touch.
I am the valley, the hills,
the night. You are the heat,
the light of a rising sun.

©JP Reese 2011
Currently at Used Furniture Review

Soir Bleu

Soir Bleu

(After a painting by Edward Hopper)

Pierrot and his cigarette are out of place.
Hanging from rouged lips,
the Gauloise remains forever unlit,
white and pure like the greasepaint
that masks his flesh.
He is afraid watchers think him unmanly.
His eyes burn inside red diamonds.

Look closely;
the ruff around his neck is stained with sweat
and street dust. His hairless skull
is painted too. He ignores his woe to drink.

A thick palette of rouge and lipstick cannot hide
his woman’s age although she thinks it does, a little.
She knows his needs; knows he likes her helpless
on her knees in the blue night. Sometimes, he pulls her
by the hair, presses her mouth against him.
He will pay her in fists pulled from pockets
of trousers he never removes.

His two companions, black beret, white epaulets,
do not wish to finish the wine and go home.
Their wives are fat, their children hungry and dirty.
The companions speak the patois of the street;
share coarse stories, and women.
Their laughter is a lie.
A fourth carafe of Chablis sits half-empty
on the table, a fifth will come.

Children laugh at this clown;
Nannies toss coins at his feet; Dogs growl and nip.
No one knows his dreams are suffused with night
– the greasepaint hides it all.
His woman waits in silence to his right.
Later, he will force her
to the hard floor, her mouth a slash of red.
This thought, perhaps, makes him grin.

She has blackened the gray from her hair,
its angular cut frames raw cheekbones.
A last pair of earrings sparkle from her lobes.
Her arms are white, thick; her breasts
heave from a green bodice.
The tilt of her chin begs an answer
a clown can never give.

©JP Reese 2010
Published in the Blue Issue/Blue Fifth Review