The Home for Wayward Muses

My head creaks, like an old treehouse.
I totter on my heels, occasionally,
because the spirits
are walking around up there,
in for a leisurely stroll
to destiny and death.

My head is as full of chatter
and squeal as a shortwave radio,
as full of old women’s voices
as a nursing home,

and when I begin to write
I smell a smell
like vacuum tubes heating up
in an old TV.

My head is full of smells.
The smell of burning forest in the wind.
The smell of magnolia and lovemaking.
The smell of melting plastic.
The smell of powder
on my great grandmother’s skin
as she rocks this little child.

Many old women live in my head.
The woman with short bobbed hair
who sells used books
and chain smokes Pall Mall cigarettes.
The tiny birdlike crone
in the red sequin jacket,
gatekeeper at the shrine
of St. Liberace in Las Vegas.
Two sets of Fates,
one speaking old Norse,
the other archaic Greek.

My head is a tenement
for Lost and Found Muses.
My head is for lease,
due to be subdivided.
I pay my back womb rent in poems
and I’m always behind
on my payments.

I climb the stairs
as I don’t trust the elevator
to the penthouse,
slip through the door standing ajar.

The Landlady is old, old, old.
Today she wears an embroidered
Chinese silk jacket
and reclines in decrepit elegance
on a large, overstuffed,
and ancient divan,
smoking opium
and drinking absinthe.

Her eyes follow the smoke from her pipe,
and she sings very softly, in French.

I think, is this the muse
to whom I’ve devoted my life?
I don’t even speak French.

Still, I walk over and sit down
at the antique vanity table pushed
in front of the window…she has
quite a view over the roofs of the world…

A blank sheet of paper
is already rolled into the black
Smith-Corona typewriter
perched on the ricketty table.
I begin to peck away
at the keys.  When she nods,
the poem is over.

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