The tiny humming-bird with wings fanning
eighty beats or more per-second lives
merely three or four years
and dies in flight dropping to earth from its
pristine height—a heart worn out in mid-air,
broken from flying to feed itself the sweet nectar
of flowers, consuming twelve times
its tiny weight daily to survive.
An aggressive word, “attack”— sounds like war.
Did the muscle in my chest pumping blood attack,
or did I attack it with too much passionate
knuckle-biting intensity through seventy years
of living in a fast-paced city?
Cardiomyopathy sounds as if my heart
is near-sighted. A weak left ventricle
at only thirty-eight percent of capacity,
oxygenates blood, then sends it back
to the articulating lungs. One out of three women
over fifty has heart disease— every heart wears out
eventually, and here I am plastered to earth
eating lean fish and multi-grain pasta
that grandma Lucia would wonder at
considering her ragu with red meat
and semolina, rich in fat and starch.
Since everyone’s heart wears out at last,
it’s a matter of sooner or later.
I’ve got to take this philosophically.
What does a weak heart mean?
That I can no longer risk orgasm, passion, anger?
Can I not care “full-heartedly!”
Yet passion’s what drove me,
passion for justice, love, art, ecstasy!
Must I learn to live quietly, contemplatively,
calmly— give up being an Italian?
—for Emily Dickinson
Masked in white,
locked in the nectar of your sorest need,
how much you gave in feeling ink
to butterfly or sacrament,
Animal eyes stare from your soul
bright with female anguish.
In cups of artificial drowse,
bereaved of lover,
within the quiet of your room,
I see you touch your body
and hold a dialogue
with your cobwebbed breasts.
I see your lips part and hear
the breath press out between them.
I feel your tongue move
in the ocean of your mouth,
“Empress of Calvary.”
Fluttering in your tightening cocoon
with that “dim capacity to fly
Having Sex with the Rain
After the long drought,
thirsty trees bend in wind.
Fierce light strikes and flashes.
Raging thunder rumbles.
Rain hammers down.
Branches sway. Leaves dance wildly,
making me want to live forever.
The irrepressible nature of it
makes me feel alive
facing death, hugging life closer.
Lightning flashes like God’s
fickle grin. Wind whips
like the Devil’s whip
making hair stand on end.
Thunder roars Hell fires.
Heaven’s thick drink pours down.
steady throbs on my skin,
Alive as can be,
I’m small, helpless under
heavy torrents, facing death
with this hurricane
that comes when
it comes against all will
flashing electrical, wet