Dean used to fire in the gully down back
every weekend. I loved to hear the rounds--
something pure, something clear
when a bullet cuts through air.
Sometimes I wish Dean had never gone off.
Summer came dragging a woolen shawl of
fire to smoke out geriatric judges in
It is lonely now
that the piano tinkles over fire creaking,
and glasses echo melting ice. Nice,
but lonely, with only a corpse of you,
since the you of your living now
cannot sprout the you of then whom I address.
Your match-drawn dagger
and my stick of liquid fire
are the same.
It's just the voiced nudge
of our brains
that names our difference.
There is here.
Then is now.
Where folks glide up bubble elevators
to hotel rooms that fetch $150 per night,
those few who take the fire stairs
might think they are back at the Y.
You have waxed in my mind
a red fire engine with a clever chrome smile.
The Walled City continues lawless.
Fire marshals and police watch at a
discreet, fearful distance.
I had once awakened to the house on fire
while she was sitting drunk in the
bathtub lighting matches to toilet paper
and on another occasion had awakened to
her holding a butcher knife above my
head about ready to strike.
Huang Stayed Cold All Winter
Even 10 pounds of
old pasteboard boxes
could not warm him
when the wind sneaked
through his drier bushes
in Kowloon Park.
But come spring,
Huang lit an idea
without a match,
wrote in big characters
on a large trash bag,
"STAY AWAY. DANGEROUS."
Doused with kerosene,
he sealed himself inside.
It was several days of warm rot,
before a gardener smelled the plot.
Marie Laveau, voodoo queen,
bless us with your sharp wit.
An hundred red X's in tribute
we have scrawled
on your crumbling stone.
embrace Manman Brigitte
around her slender waist
and roll your eyes.
Hear us, Marie Laveau.
Touch us this hot night
lest our fever burn us cold.
Rest not. Rest not, oh queen.
Your subjects kneel
Louie Crew, 69, is the author of 1,704 published poems and essays. He is an emeritus professor at Rutgers: The State University of New Jersey. In the 1980s he taught for several years in Beijing and Hong Kong. He publishes poetry resources at http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/poetry.html.