Two Poems by Jimmie Cumbie



Alien Red Sunday


With his light-up soles blinking over the drab

carpeted steps, hallway oppressive with          the embryo

Sunday dinners          ectopic, fallopian—

I trudge after the boy down three flights          after crash landing

instead of a park, he wants to play          on terra infirma,

on the sidewalk outside my yellow          adjusted

apartment. We nudge a Spider Man          his too long, oblong gloves

ball back and forth on the sidewalk

his careless cuts          over hands not yet hands,

land him in a strip of mud

it’s colder than I thought

he’s not managing my absence, my tendency for          slinging his clot of luggage

rail sliding and cagey swerves

I need          from his smeared craft

a haircut, he needs a thicker jacket, but now

we’re having our raw game, taking

reckless kicks under the stadium          the alien

street lights, hands cupped to his nose          bruised with friendliness

the ball bouncing under a convertible          immune to

dog walkers, errand runners and stony

couples          some sounds

wandering up and down the block

giving us room          space,

I score again and again,          a vacuum,

my laughter tearing into          the glistening ramp

the spikes of the fence          he didn’t survive.

The Master Letters


In a suburban train station I read Carrowmore with a butcher noise

from a seven dollar paperback when she asked me

in that way she asked me,

you know,

reclining on the brocade and flounce, with her fireplace and all

the old masters crackling on a wall,


with all those eyes,

for a word,


and I said, “Money—



mummy, Moline.”


I said, “I know you women

know pain when you see it, real pain

when you see it.


Will you help me love me while I show you?”


A lady’s man, one of them cackled from the back bench

of the Glen Ellyn train station


I put the book back in my bag,


those boys

busy mugging

for the cover

of the next issue

of ‘Boys Will Be Boys With Money,’ and I was left

bereft at the window bundled in my soft red scarf,

and I couldn’t bear their shoulders


I moved to get out,

where the winter was coming down

when one of them goes, he doesn’t like us.


But you know all about that kind of thing.


So what about that kiss,

that warm rejoinder,

or that goblet brimming

with Chateau Lafite?



can we talk about Emily D. awhile?


Ask me for a Word—