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Opening the dark

Darkness of earth covered by concrete for sixty years, old rebar
rusting where its fiery molecules had been exposed,

ringlets of dried algae on the top side where the stream ran,
sparkling as water does, even where rains flush oily streets.

Water will sparkle in this ditch again when the project’s done,
centering down its valley new-engineered to cut the flood threat.

Square by square they pour the new concrete bed, form new brick-textured walls;
alternate universe be damned, the old stone-and-block stream-wall’s gone.

Music muddles construction clunk, though earplugs would do more.
Nosing its open jaw around the rubble, the power shovel

clatters against chunks of old slab, stabbing them, its mouth-fist prepping
rows of mixed debris for the line of dump trucks waiting to back in.

Flickering in its first light in years, the blind dirt quivers, thrashes,
bellows as loudly as it can, Free at last!—then thuds where it goes.


Red Sea Resort

Lording it over waiters and staff can come easy if you are
bold and guilt-free. In a way, they expect it, since you’re here and can
afford it, which is impossible for them, who are luckily
old hands by now at answering strangers’ becks and calls. If they had
sought other work, they didn’t get it, or didn’t keep it. Had you
gone to any hotel in this string of resorts, you’d see the same
bought labor toughing it out in the heat, which after all is theirs:
possession impossible to ignore! In this, their women give
birth, in this they wave and joke, their boys play ball, in this they pray. These
resorts exist because of demand; wealth comes here to swim or for
courtly-style honeymoons, decadence so soothing, young couples all
mirthful, mostly ignoring the old marrieds whose depression we
spied as soon as we walked in the dining room. For some their love has
died, which you hate to see, because they bark at the staff so harshly.

El Gouna, 2010



Love as multiple-choice quiz: it’s all the above, choose D.
Shoreline inexact? Nothing’s indistinct about slapping surf,
shoving worse than in high school’s hallways, clipboards clutched like shields,
more impolite than that, yanking you, throwing you down,
sand in your swimsuit, hair, bouncing you on waiting bedrock,
near enough drowning you you might resolve to not come back.
Handsome and tall as you, you try again anyway. Still D.
Hearing echoes you step with a lighter tread, hope for what you want.
Black, some shade of black, around her eyes draws you to them, that’s her plan.
Snuggling smears it, a quote-catastrophe (wasn’t a disaster).
Back at your place you craft a mood to prime her so she’ll set her spell.
Ruggedly handsome, check. Suave odor, check. The tide’s coming your way,
face-first, and those lips, my god, have you ever seen such lips as these?
Place everything on red. The spinning earth’s wheel’s slowing. D.  


David McAleavey’s poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, Ploughshares, and Georgia Review. His fifth and most recent book is Huge Haiku (Chax Press, 2005). In recent months his poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Magma Poetry (UK), Poetry Northwest, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Chiron Review, and Poet Lore (in print), and online at Pedestal, Ascent, DMQ Review, Medulla Review, Foliate Oak, Denver Syntax, Eclectica, and elsewhere. More poems are forthcoming at Epoch, Connecticut Review, Stand (UK), American Letters and Commentary, and several other places. He teaches literature and creative writing at George Washington University.