Sunday, July 1, 2012

Keeping Tigers

My tigers become restless, locked up in the house all day.
I have a service, which comes by and feeds them,
leaving carcasses 
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.

All night,
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

31 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

Beautiful and passionate. I can only hope for a happy ending.

Sioux said...

Combustible. That's the only word that's fitting.

"...and turn her over
like a page of religious text, and I the ecstatic ecclesiastic."

"Beauty should never lower its guard around Appetite." Gorgeous.

hedgewitch said...

What a smörgåsbord of images in this, the houses like lungs, the bird in, then out of the cage, the catkins...lovely double entendre there...and all the bloody conflict between heart, head, and as you so accurately name it, Appetite. I am a firm believer in the possibility that behind that door, somewhere, there is someone waiting to welcome the tigers with an entire veldt of susurrant grasses and biddable antelope. Lovely, almost surreal piece, Shay.

HermanTurnip said...

Epic piece! And now that I think about it, I have some steaks in the fridge that need to cooked. Excuse me...

nene said...

hey shay, I'm Aztec. Born in la ciudad de mexico with Aztec ancestry. My head dress is probably different than yours and my proclivities are of a different nature and intention but our coracons (hearts) are from the same place.

I do love your sensualness.

Please keep flowering your plants because the heat will only intensify as the summer awakens and the sun displays its sultry intent.

I'm not sure if you will understand what I've just attempted to relate but it is relative to your wonderful piece.

The sacrifice of the Aztec is well intentioned.

Neva Flores said...

Oh wow.........I am jealous, what an absolutely fantastic.......passionate write....wow

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Sigh. I feel replete after reading this. I loved best the two lines Sioux quotes, which I am too tired to type. Staggering off to bed. This was the best bedtime story ever!

Kerry O'Connor said...

This was a week's worth of reading in one go, like the most delicious three course meal of exotic flavours.

Beauty should never lower its guard around Appetite...

These lines should be tattooed across every little girls' heart at birth!

Helen said...

.. tigers are not meant to be kept at bay.

Daryl Edelstein said...

and .. does she take it or do the tigers devour her?

Mama Zen said...

"Lack of music." Damn.

TALON said...

Beautiful and sensual, Shay.

"china-fine hand" - what pictures you paint!

So far, today, I'm not having issues with Google. I'm hoping its benevolent mood continues :)

Abin Chakraborty said...

Beauty should never lower its guard around Appetite.

I kiss her hip, and turn her over
like a page of religious text, and I the ecstatic ecclesiastic.

These lines and expressions are especially awesome in a poem which is uncannily brilliant.this is the best of your recent shares.

awakenedwords said...

loved it from the opening line to the last, and none in between disappointed.

awakenedwords said...

loved it from the opening line to the last, and none in between disappointed.

rosemary mint said...

Here is where I knew exactly what you were talking about: "I have a service"

In light of THAT, this is hilarious:
"I can feel their rage vibrating"

"My tigers dream of high grasses,
dizzy with unending heat" ... Still chuckling at your metaphors. :)

"Differentiation only arrives with occupancy" ... This is a really great line. It kind of makes me think of people as houses. If no one's "home" upstairs, a person tends to blend in with all the rest. But when she thinks and truly occupies her body, then she can be different and unique.

"and over one" ... Perfect. This might also mean she's recently over someone (divorced perhaps) and is available.

"I long to deliver myself into her" ... Ha! Just like the service you have "delivered" to your own house. :)

"She sometimes comes out, Queen of the Green Lawn" ... Oh wow. She can't make up her mind.

"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" ... What else can you do when you lose a bird-girl like that, along with all the music you've ever heard, the music you didn't know existed until you met her?

"it was my tigers who murdered her bird" ... You and your tiger(s) are dangerous. :)

"Beauty should never lower its guard around Appetite" ... Thank goodness you have a service to help feed that appetite a bit.

"I kiss the key" ... Love this.

"My neighbor is inside her house, mixing calm with catkins,
like batter with a finger." ... My favorite. She doesn't even know how her calm drives you mad.

"I stand there like a little innocent bird" ... Love that you went back to the bird, only pretending, knowing full well you were all tiger.

PattiKen said...

Oh, my, this is quite a tale. I'm not sure who will come to a worse end, the unsuspecting girl or you and your tigers.

Herotomost said...

I would be remiss as myself if I did not mention how hot that picture is...I could have stopped there and said bravo Miss....I like your line of thinking. But then I would have missed one of the coolest things I have ever read. Those analogies and the expression of the uncontrollability of gut lust never sounded quite as amazing. We have to remember no matter how warm and cuddly it is...its still a wild animal, take care. This may be my have of yours so far...and thats saying a lot.

cloudia charters said...

Your tigers! how expressive and right!

heart like an Aztec. . .

You blow me away, Shay



Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral
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Mad Kane said...

Really powerful and intense!
Madeleine Begun Kane

Margaret said...

Just amazing and very tense poem. I guess tigers always are a bit on edge :)

I just loved, LOVED....]

and turn her over
like a page of religious text

Aidz Giannini said...

Kewl kewl write not sure I want a tiger now

Lynn said...

Wow!

blogoratti said...

I will have to re-read that all over...great writing!

Sara said...

I love to read the comments once you put up a poem. Some people sip it like a fine wine and describe how it tastes on the tongue, others eat it as if they were sampling a new and unknown delicacy and then, there are those who dig into it with their fingers and tongue, eating it messy, but loving it.

This makes me think of Eve Merriam and her poem, How to Eat a Poem.

I hope your summer is going well, Shay:~)

darkangelwrites said...

I see myself in this one. What a metaphoric feast. You might find that a saucer of wine will calm the kitties. Some times it makes them more ravenous though, shredding drapes and gnawing on leather boots. I found.

Karen said...

Wow! I love the tigers, the story of the bird, and the poor, unsuspecting beauty across the street." Beauty should never lower its guard around Appetite" -- says it all!

I'be read some of your work, and I think it is pretty amazing!

Buddah Moskowitz said...

My goodness, you may have outdone yourself here. This had an inherent drama and vivid imagery that came to a quietly satisfying conclusion. Loved it, love you, el Mosk

my heart's love songs said...

whew! i was afraid you were gonna feed her to your tigers!

i won't be trying to write for awhile ~ just going to curl up in a ball and sob.

rosemary mint said...

LOL, Sara. This is me:

"there are those who dig into it with their fingers and tongue, eating it messy, but loving it"

Lolamouse said...

So glad I didn't miss this one. It's epic. It was already hot in the room when I started reading this, and now I'm even sweatier! So many lines I love, I can't even begin to write them all. Sometimes you make me question my sexual preference, girl!