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Lillo Way

In the Patisserie

The legs of the older gentleman in good slacks

are so narrow no gastrocnemius pushes back

against the polished cotton.

Fabric gathered by the belt hangs like draperies

where buttocks once gluted maximally.

A constellation scatters across the back

of his right hand, another speckles his left.

I'm sipping my coffee, looking, loving

him for his not-jeans, his not-sneakers,

his soft happiness at no longer having to rush.

Just here to savor,

he seems to be saying to his snow white wife,

grateful I can still loop the waist

of my good slacks over each foot

in the morning and pull them up,

hold them in place while I thread the belt,

my favorite, the old lizard.

Fine Gaudy Lover

My heart jumps out the window. Turns

a somersault and hands itself over to him.

Splendor in the laurel hedge. Splendor

on the blue star creeper. I squander myself

on a blue jay’s wing. Its shimmer. Its shimmy.

He unfurls those breath-stopping fans of his,

whose color he stole, greedy, from a peacock.

He pauses on the bluestone cobbles, allows

just enough time for my whispered gasp

before his last flash of dayglo. He’s thrill,

he’s changeable taffeta. I want to slip under his wing,

pull it over me—a spiny blanket. Then examine my palms

for iridescence. I’m panting, begging him not to go.

But he’s got other neighbors to titillate

and if their timing’s right, he’s offering a free show.

On the road to my father’s assisted living facility

I stumble on a nursing home

of an orchard, its apple trees long retired

from producing fruit. Dandelions

gone to seed and weeds wild

as old men’s hair, uncombed,

untrimmed and who cares. Dew

beads on the ends of twigs the way

water poises before dropping, unnoticed,

from a drooping nose. A red sunset

bleeds out in the lacy shade

of worm-holed leaves yellower

than they are green. Here and there

a few trunks, hollow but standing,

where ferment of sweet rot

lingers, something of fruit flesh

preserved in it. Nervous squirrels unbury

apples several seasons old, abandon

them at my feet—small, withered skulls.

This poem

is in French

you comprehend it fully as the Èpoisses

twitches your nose slips on your lips

reclines against your tongue

is in bird

several dialects spoken at once

from the horizontal tree

in my garden

is in glance

stranger your eyes meet my eyes

and we know everything

we need to know

This poem is in cicada

hold your ear to the shell

for an hour and the vibrations

will deafen you

is in wind

through the giant sequoia

mimicking a machine a turbine

hard at the harvest

in lullaby

little baby your father loves you

no matter what

comes later

This one’s in cargo plane

a dozen early wakeup calls

courtesy Amazon ripping

through the roof of your house

in rain

indigenous tongue before

becoming the dead

language of drought

in drip

rain’s coda

the perfect tempo

into your veins


Lillo Way's poetry collection, Lend Me Your Wings, was described by Ellen Bass as “rich in music and in imagination…a celebration and a joy”. Her chapbook, Dubious Moon, won the Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest. Her poems have won the E.E. Cummings Award and a Florida Review Editors’ Prize. Her writing has appeared in such journals as New Letters, Poet Lore, Tampa Review, Louisville Review, Poetry East, and in many anthologies. Way has received grants from the NEA, NY State Council on the Arts, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for her choreographic work involving poetry.


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