Fort Marcy

          Here is the frail mystique of the woman
          Idling away the late afternoon loafing in a
          Wooden chair on a wooden deck. Only her hand
          Is draped slovenly over the arm of the chair in a ray
          Of fickle light, only her legs extend past themselves
          Onto other wooden platforms in other leggy realms,
          Only her jaw remains fixed in enduring malcontent –
          Around her feet, brunette leaves sleep through
          Their dreams and do not burn to know them
          In the morning when they are burned by the heat
          Of the shrieking sun itself – What else could they
          Have done? Evening steals into the fading shades of the late
          Afternoon: shades of a sleeping woman, of an empty ashtray,
          Of a romance novel adorned with a split-spine
          And a tale that is jarring, redolent, familiar in the way
          That an old perfume is familiar, in the way that a white skirt
          Taking the form of a cloud in the wind is familiar.
          Familiar in the way that two breezes never are.

          As a bobcat and a coyote brawl in the yellow brush
          Twenty feet beneath the wooden deck, so goes
          The mercurial veering of the mountain air that demands
          Time stand by itself, separate from the moments and
          The movements which define it – We are here and not
          Quite there, not quite willing to wake the woman sleeping
          In the chair beside us, and
          I do not think we will endeavor hardly
          Instead, we will look on ahead
          Of us, to the mountains steeped
          In blue and grey dreamscapes and the setting
          Of our red Southwestern sun, and below us,
          To the dead lives of those gallant coyotes
          We wanted to keep as pets
          When we were five and seven years old,
          Living in the lunate shadows of our youth.
                         enough to do what we should.

          Instead, we will look on ahead
          Of us, to the mountains steeped
          In blue and grey dreamscapes and the setting
          Of our red Southwestern sun, and below us,
          To the dead lives of those gallant coyotes
          We wanted to keep as pets
          When we were five and seven years old,
          Living in the lunate shadows of our youth.


Afterglow in B Minor

          I will sing for you in alto and soprano,
          When you wake up in the morning
          And I smell your breath: chocolate, honey, fields
          Of lavender under storm clouds, last April –
          Rain. You’ll turn into my collarbone
          And hold yourself still. You’ll breathe into
          My ancient parchment and I’ll hum a little bit,
          I’ll hum a little bit for it.

          We’ll be best friends first – how we get close –
          Though you’ll try to be much closer for a long, long time.
          One night we’ll fall asleep on bunk beds, drunk beds,
          You’ll crawl down to me, and I’ll sing for you
          Because you’re what I’ll want to know.
          We won’t be linear, we won’t be happy,
          But I’ll bet you can chase me, pin me, slay me –

          You’ll have a dream and then you’ll fall asleep
          In the middle of my favorite movie, and I’ll always

          Wake you up for the ending, for the heartbreak
          And all of the grace in your face in the television light,
          Midnight-thirty, you’re double-chinned and
          Wrinkled skin, you’re knock-kneed and ugly,
          Obeying me and betraying me and replaying me –
          You’ll not have been the only one. Then

          I’ll stutter when I tell you I don’t want children,
          And you: “Let me change your mind,”
          (But your honey! Your lavender!) I will never
          Change my mind. You’ll be resolute, but
          We’ll be young – plenty of time for that
          Later, you’ll get out of bed and turn off the ceiling fan.
          There’ll be no more white noise
          And I will be too hot.

          We will fall ill to one another, and the fever

          Will not break, even when we do. Come the end,
          We will have spent just seconds looking into
          The anatomies of love, of trust, of late night
          Macaroni and cheese, and you will not understand
          Why I stopped seeing beauty in the way our light
          Chases itself on bedroom walls in early mornings,
          Why I felt like a raisin lying next to you
          After you sat at your desk all day crushing grapes
          Under the weight of your tongue.

          I’ll be surprised when you let me know
          You’re leaving. I’ll miss the bitter chocolate
          In your teeth – my poignant handling of this lavender
          Scarring my joy – I will feel my skin for the first time
          In months. I will push you out of the window
          After you’ve already left, and I will remember
          The stain of your body on the pavement below me.

          Dear – I know. And all that I know, I know from
          Singing. And all that we will sometime be,
                                                                                I’ve sung at least once before.


Haunt

          It is the rueful promise of this sweet-hot August night
          To remind a heartsick couple within throes of youthful lust
          That shadows cast by sunshine follow us to moonlight.

          These summer nights are lonely, but they are short and finite
          We’ve only one more season ‘til the longest, darkest dusk –
          Still remains the rueful promise of this sweet-hot August night.

          We roam along decrepit fences in the furtive wild, out of sight
          Though empty spaces call our names, we walk on because we must
          For shadows cast by sunshine follow us to moonlight.

          The air about us warms with fervor wringing tight, tight, tight –
          And for one brief moment, we believe we may adjust
          To the ever-rueful promise of this sweet-hot August night.

          You take my hand and kiss the cruelest words you can recite
          The owl coos, the cricket cries, the buried bone turns to dust
          Because shadows cast by sunshine always follow us to moonlight.

          Daylight romance cannot soothe the nighttime lover’s plight
          Tender words unfold in yellow light we cannot trust –
          So goes the rueful promise of the sweet-hot August night,
          Shadows cast by sunshine forever follow us to moonlight.


Sydney Vance is in her third year of undergrad studies at the University of Central Oklahoma, and she is pursuing both a major in creative writing and a minor in humanities. She is a freelance poet who spends her time outside of school working part-time, writing, or playing with her orange cat.
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