Bride of Baudelaire

Gabriela Anaya Valdepeña

Cover photo by Chris Vannoy

16 pages, 2005

Little Spirits

Kings betray their crowns; souls lie at the gates of hell
to taste the blood of knowledge. I have read your bones;
I have written down your dreams, and for that you have
banished me like a cold wife. The night binds; the day
is tangled in the web of forgetting; the heart is a maze

Where its own voice is lost. You are modest
as clouds are thin; and yet it is you that lets me love, at last,
my several husbands, soft as hot wax, little spirits, both
Frankenstein and monster. If you are confused
it is because the wind chimes sing Death's tango.

Falter once you are mortal; twice you are God, who errs
only to invade our beds. Time reaps its own straw,
and anything you wish for me is now belated. But still,
I'll sleep next to your heart-come-lately. You must dig up
your own grave. Come back and stand by your portrait

Of grace and lies. If I whisper death, it is only that, alive,
I copulate with shadows. Oh, beg me to lie in shame,
that you may exalt me. Empty my mirror of arrogance.
Beauty, alone, swallows its own tongue; beside you it sings
like Satan's castrati. I cannot wait for you in the hills of time.

The daisies grow bold and consume my ankles. Fire bid you
good-bye, but now repents its death, while the stars'
electric skeletons rake the sky. I will pry your fingers from
your neck and rest your hands on the shelf of my hips.

We alone can contain love's cicatrix. We alone reply
to God's lost voice, and guide the spirits back to the dark.

My Wish

It is not my wish to mar your day
with ante-meridian confessions. I just had to tell you
I am Madam Bovary's poison. I am
this pink acrylic powder which hardens on my nails,
making them strong enough to pry. I myself
am shameless as a leper's sore, open
as the cookbook in my kitchen, blending
strong spices with placid meats. Interrupt me now
before the clock strikes noon, before I shift
terribly into focus. Tell me you still love me,
or forever hold your dirty peace.

Bartered Blues

Chantilly lace falls in my chow mein, and the record skips.
I'd rather be the devil than that man's woman.

He was the meanest cat of all,
and the best dancer this side of Acadia,
bee-hives in his nostrils, testicles swollen with the sting.

I admit, I might have swooned in the beginning,
like Cathryn did when Heathcliff, a brow-beaten boy,
stomped into the stables. At last, someone
to nap with on the heather, to void
the white spaces of eternity.

But his bartered blues couldn't save him
from either Jesuit or Mongol, who chased him out
of the burning temple. He would have stayed
to watch his tattoos fading in the flames.

In retrospect, I agree:
to let a woman starve is not the worst thing.
But to watch her get dolled up, and then just leave, drunk
with her lily scent—that'll get him the best hate-sex,
when he returns to me some rain-filled night,
confetti in his pockets,
stale rice in his hair, svelte as the hands of his watch, thin
as the eyelids of dolls.