Christina Wodtke


In the Spring the ice storms come and the branches break from the weight
In the summer the sun burns the roses to brown husks before they get a chance to bloom
We complain, and it is less than what we wish to complain about, you never call,
you never pick up your socks, why did you spend your money like that, but not
In the fall the rains came early and there was no changing of the colors of the leaves,
why we are really bitter, why the years moving forward always seem to be
moving into winter.

Poem for Robert

In a basement in a city that gave itself over to love and never
got its shit together again
on a night made for bad behavior and unkeepable promises
on a night I promised not to lie and spent stealing instead
I called him the wrong name.

If he had been a pool shark I could have been a drunken
sorority girl I don't know how the moment got out of control
Standing on the sidewalk in his coat and recognizing each other
I was coerced into myth.

On a night when they espouse the new in drugs while demanding the old in sex
just get his number and let's go back and smoke a bowl
On a cold windy street a sable leaps across cement tundra on
fat seventies style sandals
I took his hand and ran.

In that moment where recrimination is the first choice for ex-boyfriends
down that street where the new takes hold, jumps claim
conciliation manifests a 1991 blue Honda and a door
swinging out, and a black wool coat, and a ride
I can give you the recipe.

In a basement in a city that gave peace a chance and hasn't known a minute of it since
against better judgment and against a cold tile floor
falling down as courtship ritual, collapse masquerading as insight
on a night dedicated to new beginnings and spent celebrating old mistakes
I tripped and impaled myself on him.

Poem for Frank and Mark and Joshua

It is four thirty and I close my computer and set my VCR
and pull on my shoes, brush my hair, it is Sunday, never
a sabbath, not for three years, I pull on my work
shirt and coat, and start searching for my keys
four-forty I am out the door, enveloped by a cloud of tiny rain bites
I think for the first time, I will see him tonight.

At Pacific I buy Altoids and Trident
I will offer the Altoids to him with a wink, "they're curiously strong"
the Trident makes me think of a hand in the small of my back, Josh's
he would chew it, cinnamon engulfing us as we
danced outside the Deluxe, resplendent in 1940's wear as the
flower children gathered on the Haight sidewalk to watch
the double reverse pretzel
no scoffing ever, no one from 1995 was there.

I walk past the immaculate housing projects of china town, laundry smells,
fish markets, and the phlegm of the old spat on the street, I think of last night when
I dreamt of his accusing face, him waving a poem on yellow paper in his clenched fist.
On Mason street, the light slants under the fog pouring
through the golden gate to light the rising cream facade of Saint Peter
and Paul, Alcatraz already mythicaly obscured.

Along Stockton where the luggage store has been replaced by
a Sanrio store, and Capps where the bartender comes out to ask me not to kiss him
when his wife is there, and past Little City where the pastry chef, smoking
a cigarette outside in the alley invites me to brunch, I think of him in the drizzling
comfort my neighborhood, across the muddy square and to
the blue light I look through the tall picture windows
where the black and white clad waiters
joke and buff silver I can see
he is wearing my tie.


all copyright 1998 Christina Wodtke


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