Creative of the Month: David Francis

David Francis
The Alley

While you’re sitting in your class
I’m looking at the grass

and trees that cover the hills
that tower above the sills

of the town in the valley,
my vantage point, an alley

quite shaded by an awning:
but my eyes are still yawning….

Where’s the scene supposed to be?
At its base a beige balcony

gives a trompe-l’oeil illusion,
and orange blossoms in profusion

out of an Etruscan vase
at the level of your face

and a fountain in the place
are the dead giveaways;

and then, on the nearer wall,
opposite of the mural,

perch grayish nudes in apses
with curtains where their sex is.

And now some near church bells play
that old campus melody

and apparently the light
has changed its path of flight

because the hills and every leaf
are pushed rudely into relief

as if needing to be restored;
I sit, amazed, and floored:

all the pimples and the pocks
and the cracks between rocks

obscure the colors and field—
the true texture is revealed.

About the Theater

I don’t know much about the theater.
I noticed a lot of old people
were sitting in the first and second rows.
It seemed like merely an occasion
for them to dress in finery and show:
it seemed like an anachronism.
There was a finely-dressed young couple
set apart, with space around,
like an island of hope.
Several old men had opera glasses
in this small repertory
about the size of a cinema balcony.
Everyone stirred and studied their programs,
sitting erect yet talking among themselves
and, as if scaling the dunes,
the first breakers came with the whitecaps,
the tiers hushed as the lights dimmed.
During the intermission
two women stayed and talked about New York.
The rest of the audience
streamed out to the lobby for drinks
they finished standing in back,
but the candy they sneaked in.

This is something discussed after the fact—
but it wasn’t as good, the second act:
why? Because it was drawn out,
a new character was introduced
who overacted and was no match
for the star. The other characters
didn’t reappear. And though there were
a couple of laughs, there were more coughs.
It needed work in the transition—
like two plays cut by an intermission.
Still, there were a couple of laughs….

The standing ovation, for my money,
lacked passion… but then I’m an amateur
and I don’t know much about the theater.

Café B (B-Café)

The café talk is full of cults
half-digested by young adults

with a term proclaimed as cant
sprinkled here and there, redundant

O see the profile of the sphinx
that muses and…almost thinks

O hear the mystical advice
How spaced the necromancer’s eyes

as he predicts your future flings
while shine his unwed finger rings

The Man Shot out of a Cannon

Now you’re gone…in the air
To forget you would take
something exceptional
I feel like I’m thrust along with you
into the air so blue…over the clouds
and I’m waiting with you in the airport
dragging your carry-on through the white halls
the journey suddenly insufferable
reduced to the mundane act of waiting

I wonder where you are
Some particles of me are with you there

but my body is in this bar
writing almost automatically
smoking a lot, drinking too much coffee
I won’t be able to sleep well tonight
my dreams will be troubled, my sleep will be light
and I will hear the alarm like a dream prop

like the man shot out of a circus cannon
who missed the net and hit the ground
and prepared himself mentally
knowing in advance that the shot was off

Now you’re gone…for a week
and these particles like the star points of a constellation
will hover cold gleaming in the night sky
or… they will fall like acid rain
back onto my disintegrated self.

Safe from the Rain

Now the air is white,
the tall bushes shivering
and, as if an oversight,
silver rain is javelining.

I had walked and walked
after the museum
and cut before I talked
to an answering machine.

I sat under a live oak
with a real-live breeze,
whose circumference of shade
was 360 degrees.

Pigeons made their sound
and walked upon the grass;
the branches swept the ground,
so immense the tree was.

Figures parked and filed
and posed for a camera.
I watched them as a child
must watch adult ephemera,

nodding toward a nap
and wanting oblivion,
and wanting a soft lap
to absorb my decision.

If it rains, I thought,
the crown seems waterproof:
it is so thick and taut
and stable as a roof

but then I looked up high
and saw the yellow sun
in its segment of sky—
so much for illusion.

I passed a corner house
with a yard sign: “To rent,”
hollowed and dangerous—
I gazed in wonderment

and followed the sidewalk
which petered to a rut;
strange stoops caused me to balk
where unkempt gardens jut

like a troubled mind
that cannot abide art
and wants to find
his own heart in her heart.

The watercolor sky
above a mullioned chalet,
like moist eyes ripe to cry:
in this café I’ll stay.

It’s dark here by the wall,
the fan stirs up the air;
I’ve never been here at all,
slumped in this cushioned chair.

Born in Houston, Texas, David Francis has lived in London, Buenos Aires, and New York.  He has produced six music albums, one of poetry, Always/Far, a chapbook of lyrics and drawings, and Poems from Argentina (Kelsay Books).  In addition, he has written and directed the autobiographical films Village Folksinger (2013) and Memory Journey (2018).  His verse and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.

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