Angela Consolo Mankiewicz, US




Free Verse


Who Am I To Cry


Bloated babies scream for milk
and old people wither in wheelchairs

Who am I to cry
while AIDS continues its sullen rampage
and drive-bys stalk schoolyards

teenagers flying off cliffs in search of the rainbow,
40-yearold heart attacks, 30-yearold paraplegics

But I do cry
over this lifeform in my left breast,
bequeathed by a father intent on absence;
did he fear I'd forget him?

Anger assumes blame, a wrong, a scheme
I gave up on long ago, with no regrets;
but I do cry

These tiny, aberrant cells bear me no malice;
they seek life, as I do; their rights, their desires
no less than mine

I keep my tears private, though I slip on occasion,
when my lover holds me too tight;

then I twist, away from myself, my shame
at thinking me worthy of pity

I'm strong, I can beat it, and if not,
I'll live trying.

But I do cry.



"Smiles Of a Summer Night"


You are propped up on a pillow, settling me
in between your satined legs at a slight, easy
slant, my back to you so you can see me
and I don't have to look;

it happens too fast but not so fast that I can't
turn my steaming head and glimpse your face,

a face I know, your lips parted to smile, eyes
scanning my disquieted body, open hands filling
with my breasts, then pushing past my belly;
your long tender fingers easy into my panties,
very easy, knowing, somehow, the grating pain
leftover from medical toxins to save a life;

I hear you say I'll never hurt you again
and again and I close my eyes, slide my legs up,
let the right one slide back down, spreading out
to the side in an unsteady arc;

at passion's height, I raise my mouth to yours

but she is gone and I am awake, with a libidinous
heartbeat, pulling my mate over to drive
my tongue down his throat.


Why now? Still unable to make love, dreams
become lustier and more varied.

Why this way? To spare me agony
But you
are not the first
this wayeven during
my twice-a-day fuck times
why now? Why this way?

And you? Have I disturbed your dreams?
If not me, who? Why you? Why not?


Who has dreamed me? Male
in the morning
grabbing a crotch to calm an obstinate turn on?

At the peak of desire, what does it matter who
or what the instrument is? A beautiful prick,
beautiful fingers
as long as the throbbing bursts high enough
in the arms of one's beloved, or some more easily
accessible other ?



As If


Standard advice to the diseased,
the lucky ones who function normally,
without notice.

Don't dwell, they say, don't let it
consume you, don't speculate

live your life not what-if,
but as-if ....

Bizarre world, unfair, of course,
where, some moveable tally of moments
after the stunning numbness of words
and matching numbers deserts her,
a late-blossoming adult female, or her
senior-discount-hunting father or her 8th grader
discovers that lifetime is a crapshoot,

that gods are air and stone and like
a good game, that thumbs up
down is whim and whim
is not deferrable;

neither is hope,
a burden of manners
immortally imposed,
a gesture
to tame madness
into constructs
of treatments, check-ups,
survival rates
to underline on your to-do
list and stick in your pocket,
whistling, functioning
normally, without notice, as if
you're still
like everyone else.









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