Today's poem is by Stephen Massimilla

Entering Vacant Stagehands

Once she goes to sleep in my script, it is 2:00 A.M.
and she can't get out, will never remember the city

her dreamer has navigated, all by accident. Will return
to his cell, days of flicked sparks in a fireplace

left to rot in Mann's rendition
of hell. The empty moon is a gland

in her neck. And cinched
to the limits of her midriff, her skirt

reveals a venetian flag tattoo.
Looking better than a girl, a coolly vicious bird

cocks by the lion raging in copper at a liner in the harbor;
the horseman above him swings a saber

at the real moon reflected on kites of newsprint.
The impurity of the street is hitting my belt.

I enter all the unmarked
doors forty feet tall, coffered, browed

with brooding faces of ancient thespians
reflected ill-fittingly in canals—

the wind stripes of night—while that gull
in the fish market still snaps up fish guts,

rips through the newspaper, takes a hop back
from the smell of torture—thumb crusher,

devil's box, beaked stab of the plague doctor
in his hull-shaped hat, and, yes, wild gulls...

It's a tremendous sky that reflects the water,
glitter of mementos desperate for echoes.

Electric stage-wreck in each scavenger's eye,
child after child akimbo

on these pedestals, a longing accordion
of unwanted songs.

Copyright © 2014 Stephen Massimilla All rights reserved
from The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat
Stephen F. Austin State University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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