The Works of Alex Stolis
Alex Stolis lives and works in Minneapolis. His sixth chapbook, Poem of the Month Club, is forthcoming in Fall 2011 by Redbird Chapbooks. Another chapbook, Excerpts from an Interview is forthcoming from White Knuckle Press. He has been the recipient of five Pushcart Nominations.
All Poems © Alex Stolis
Here we are, two stories written in the same book.
Neither one of us are where we think we should be.
You: unaware of your innocence, lips moist, lashes
that quiver when you smile. Me: I get drunk, look
down at the stars from rooftops-break our memories
into easy to slice pieces. Pretend not to remember
colors: the light red of rain as it falls through your hair,
the dark blue of regret for things unsaid. Piece by piece
you reinvent me; wish to make love in Paris, travel by
train to the coast and drink champagne, eat fish stew
and toast to beginnings. I have imagined it all more
than once. We will end up by the ocean. It will be
the first time I see you naked; arms tanned, brown
hair that barely scrapes your shoulder. Your calf
is a poem and every time I look away you give me
a glance, that wicked half grin that tells me you know
where my mind just wandered. There will be an open
air café, umbrella-ed tables, arrogant waiters in waist
coats and black shined shoes. There will be the clink
clink of glass against stone. I’ll scratch your name into
a napkin, two children build a lopsided castle at the edge
of the water. It tilts to one side and slides into the surf,
their laughs drowned out by the shrill cry of seagulls.
Back in our room, I threaten to throw away everything
I’ve written about you. There will be a wash of words
between us but no need to speak. You close the blinds,
lips barely move; I’ll love you, one sliver at a time
until eventually we are whole.
John Berryman Died Here
Dream Song 35
Train Schedule: Platform 6; leaves at 5:15; 3 ½ hours; direct
[I’ll press your name to the roof of my mouth]. What did you
want me for; I am a crow with nowhere left to fly. Platform 9;
5 ¾ hours; four stops [Before you, it was all the stories with foggy
endings] Where was the last place we made love; could you find
it again or has it wandered into your imagination. Platform 12;
3 hours; express [the smell of creosote and the sound of wood
snapping in a fire]. Let’s lie together at the bottom of the sky.
John Berryman Died Here
Dream Song 312
I rely on words from the dead, waste my breath on a mirage;
walk to the falls, wait for the sun to mist. I’m drawn to water;
a common fetish of a melancholy man. Someone plays violin
[Brahms, Schoenberg?] keeps a cat on a leash. This isn’t me
under this bridge [it’s my good side] wishing on a ghost, hot
cup of coffee [black] and a last chance. I am mechanical, thin;
birds circle, a dog barks and there I am [again]: in a king bed,
blinds drawn, an unexpected rain; the wet shell of another day
blows to pieces.
One More Cup of Coffee
The last table is taken. You nod when asked if I can join you.
Pass me the cream. No glance. No words. Your sleeves pushed
up, lips thin, a brushstroke of red. I ask you the time. You tell
me how to catch fire. How to hold the spark, the correct way;
how to live with ashes and dust. You want to teach me to rub
the stain from a crucible, polish it, hold it to flame until my
breath turns to smoke. You tell me everything I am thinking
is true. That aqua blue is the color of sincerity. That shyness
is a refuge, desolation a virtue. The café empties. Streetlamps
flicker, the city struggles to stay awake. We are unnoticed.
The final stop. I study the curve of your mouth, want you
to feel the weight of loss in the palm of your hand; consider
the heft of grief, its angles and curves. Share the heaviness
that comes with remembering.
We Won’t Last Another Year
I no longer believe in myths. Fables to take the edge off.
No winged horses cutting a path through the sky, no simple
answers found in ashes or bones, no blond fields with a burial
ground for our sins. Every day there will be less and less.
The space between now and then will fill with your voice
that is no longer mine. I want to hear every story you have
lived, again and again, until I am filled with nothing but you.
Tell me about scabbed elbows and braids, morning and bare
feet padding to the window to trace frost with your finger.
Tell me about your first wish, the smoothest stone skipped
across water and how you felt yourself in each ripple
and wave. Tell of passageways made of rock, tucked on
the slope of a hill. That is the place I’ll fall to my knees,
forget everything I know about loss. I no longer believe
in legends, doors that lead to open roads. I believe a shot
glass is large enough to hold the future, that there are no
beginnings, only an empty sky to witness our pain. Every
untruth we whisper becomes winter and when the snow
melts and the air smells of wet leaves, the gallows will be
high; polished wood with desolated space to break my fall.