Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 3 • Fall 2002 • Featured Lodestar Writer • Poetry

The Day George Harrison Died

Michael Lassell

Grey is the daughter of grieving and whey,
which is why it's spelled (contrary to Webster) in the English manner --
with a vowel as empathic as mercy or ease:

Exxon, elephant, elegant/ e-mail, entering, earnestly, eggs.

Grey smells like the smoke off the low-tide Thames,
tastes like riverbanks curdling in an acrid urban breeze,
(the fetid sound of a brackish backwater).

The mud larks will be picking tears out of the mire with their cod heads and penny pieces.

Remember the time by Lake Moraine when a boy whose name
is frequently forgotten -- was it David, and something Anglo-Saxon? --
smoked dope and curled in my arms for hours, his granny glasses
clouded over with our shared heat (the misted eyes of a wiser owl who
bids adieu to common knowledge)? --

unless it was a Mersey's idle dream:

dahlia, difficult, dominoes/ dik-dik, diptych, dipstick, dregs.

Some nights there's nothing on cable,
not even the BBC, for which you are paying mucho dinero.
For you, the red, white and blue will always be British:
Bobby blue, hoarfrost white on the morning fields of
Stratford one Thanksgiving Thursday in your youth,
and red phone boxes -- or Twizzlers as you wait for a movie
you don't want to see while soggy strangers munch popcorn:

pumping, petticoat, platypus/ primavera, panoply, pegs.

It's because you haven't got a thing to wear
that your peppers failed to germinate;
you can taste your tongue and it's zincky, sour.

"Don't make me take you to church, young man!"
the turbaned Caribbean TV psychic warns.
Her voice is fruity, flutelike, bloated on the fumes of something fishy.

The embrace of leather and absence is that
of a father whose love is late and suspect:
it's as warm as November and as awkward.

I went up to him, once, just pulled his arm and said
"I love you," and he smiled at me, so I kissed his glamorous brocade:

broken, baklava, Benjamin/ bluebottle, blushing, Boston, begs.

(Wee Mickey were the only one who got to call him Geordie.)

Oh, yes, there will be bad hair days to come. Fat days.
Endless afternoons when you haven't got a book to read or
a friend who isn't out of town on some fabulous vacation.
It will be August all year long, insufferable, ad infinitum.

Once again the brutal dove of peace has come to rest
on your frail broad shoulder, and you want to pull the weeping sheets
up to your grizzled chin, hitting the snooze button over and over again
until a sodden supper of takeout sesame chicken:

chuckling, canopy, kaffeeklatsch/ Caspian, canticle, kaffiyeh, kegs.

Not knowing him was the way he loved me.

"Verloren ist das Schlüsselein,"
the unsurprisingly dour day drawls in all
the colors of London's lost Victorian fog.
"Forgotten is the little key," you think to your earlier self,
chilled to the wishbone in the after-opera Berlin snow.

"How can you possibly be bored with all
those toys in your room?" is the echo
choking back from my childhood like
an oily bog that double-troubles up
the clogging pipes of my unscoured sink.

But that's not how you felt, or feel even now, unless
they mean some other kind of bored, like drilled or chewed,
as if you are a bower of trees in the Indonesian
summer, now riddled with the snaking borrows
carved by ravenous maggots (the way you exhausted
would-be lovers with a hunger of your own), and the burly trees are
about to fall, prey to steaming slow disintegration,
fading from proud ebony -- erect above the canopy -- to ovoid oblivion
crashing in a cloud of ash or slate or charcoal grey no one will hear.

Yet saffron, rarest spice of all, is found in the common crocus flower,
ground from its viscous gold stigmata, where pollen falls to germinate
like dust motes in a shaft of sun on sated lovers' tangled legs.

Michael Lassell

Michael Lassell's first book, Poems for Lost and Un-lost Boys, was the winner of Amelia's first annual book award; his second, Decade Dance, won a 1990 Lambda Literary Award. He is the author of A Flame for the Touch That Matters, Certain Ecstasies: Bedtime Stories, Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA: Bringing the Broadway Show to Life, and Disney on Broadway, as well as co-editor, with poet Elena Georgiou, of The World in Us: Lesbian and Gay Poetry of the Next Wave, a finalist in the Library Association of America's annual lesbian and gay book awards as well as a Lammy finalist. He is currently articles director for Metropolitan Home.

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