My tigers become restless, locked up in the house all day.
I have a service, which comes by and feeds them,
and the long bones of domestic cattle.
These meals are cold from the refrigerated truck,
and they do not struggle,
and so are not satisfying to my tigers.
I can feel their rage vibrating against the chambers of my heart as I work,
like a murmur,
or an embolism.
My tigers dream of high grasses,
dizzy with unending heat.
The sun teases them from the high windows,
until they are crazy with frustration.
The houses on my street are new, and identical.
Differentiation only arrives with occupancy--
the houses are like virgin lungs, and the buyers, air.
There is a woman inside the walls of the house across from me and over one.
The sun-hot bricks contain her, and her soft skin.
Whatever bounty she possesses
is closed off from me, as by a hard cupboard door.
I long to deliver myself into her life.
She sometimes comes out, Queen of the Green Lawn,
and when she does,
my tigers and I tear each other bloody for a place at the window.
Not everyone can keep tigers.
The daughter of the couple next door kept a bird,
a beautiful tropical specimen, which flitted from sill to ceiling fixture
to the trees outside, in summer.
When the bird disappeared, the girl reached her china-fine hand into the empty cage,
and slammed the metal door on herself
until she was bleeding so badly that paramedics had to be called.
"Were you trying to hurt yourself?" inquired the doctor.
"What made you do this?"
The girl replied, "Lack of music."
I know this because I transcribe the doctor's session recordings.
I know this because it was my tigers who murdered her bird.
I know that my silence is vile,
and that Beauty should never lower its guard around Appetite.
I grow restless in my cubicle, doing my work.
I dream of my across-the-street neighbor, and in these dreams
I run my fingertips down the backs of her thighs--
I kiss her hip, and turn her over
like a page of religious text, and I the ecstatic ecclesiastic.
In the evenings, I go home alone.
My tigers are waiting, ravenous and angry.
At my front door, I kiss the key,
and make the sign of the cross over the lock.
my tigers scratch to get into the room where I sleep.
The door quivers and splits, but holds, barely.
My neighbor is inside her house, mixing calm with catkins,
like batter with a finger.
I start across the street, though it is past midnight.
I wear only my black kimono.
My tigers trail after me, lit like candles with excitement at being out of doors.
I knock, haloed in the porch light.
She answers, and I stand there like a little innocent bird,
offering her my heart like an Aztec.
for Real Toads OLM