Gary Glauber

Inveigled

He gingerly took that first step,

careful not to stumble,

not knowing beyond that door

lay a universe of curious troubles.

Silk batiks hung over windows,

beads replacing doors and 

the color red dominant –

bleeding through as if 

claiming territory, crowding out 

unwanted spectrums of colors,

a flag of caution, of warning,

but he felt the opposite,

drawn to this eclectic warmth,

this claustrophobic tableau,

bearing olfactory witness,

to a unique mix of musk 

and powder and incense.

The walls hung with 

unfamiliar paintings, 

dark scenes from distant mountain hovels

with odd clusters of nameless hordes.

They gathered in shadows

to negotiate hard lives

of labor, grit, and compromise.

Even their horses looked grim.

This ramshackle studio,

bastion of small mirrors 

and tables holding framed photos

of unsmiling people in

other century’s clothes,

a clipped pile of receipts

by a burgundy checkbook.

And barely visible, 

in the next small room over,

her bed, beautifully appointed,

an inviting exhibition of

soft pillows and knitted throws, 

a prize taunting and teasing, 

a destination of desire.

He came to that space

hoping to know her intimately,

to convince with charm and panache,

a hunter in search of prey.

Now, disarmed, he whirled in 

strange recesses, thrown akimbo

by this derelict den of exotic enigma,

transformed, transfixed,

seducer now seduced. 

 

Hidden in Plain Sight

 

Our family packed into the Olds Cutlass.

and drove across the large bridge,

past miles of endless cemeteries 

that lined the highway near the airports,  

beyond the bright lights of Northern Boulevard, 

past Alexander’s department store,

to Rego Park, land of red brick apartments, 

one of which housed my paternal grandmother.  

 

Some nights we’d have dinner with my father’s

mother’s youngest sister and her husband:

she a tall, stately blonde,

he a small dark man with a moustache. 

He was talkative, opinionated, 

a fast talking wheeler-dealer that hawked politics.

He worked in a clothing store

on the lower east side, holding his own

against those haggling for lower prices.

 

They often had their friends over,

people who were strangers at best, 

and they only spoke Hungarian.

I learned my father not only understood it,

but seemed able to add an occasional comment.

He translated for my mother,

yet I sensed her frustration,

because their talking in a language

where I knew maybe three words

didn’t seem very nice to the rest of us.

 

Back then, I was confused by the genealogy, 

unsure how we were all related,

and the unexpected onslaught of strange words 

and guttural sounds further alienated me.  

I would go into the next room 

to watch television, but nothing good was on. 

 

On a small porch I found a wicker chaise lounge

with a convenient rocking mechanism.  

I stretched and let my eyes go out of focus, 

distant trees and flowers fading into a blur 

that I hoped might hypnotize me forever. 

It didn’t work. I didn’t stop time 

or magically transport myself to my own bedroom.

What I did manage was total invisibility;

I had wandered off and no one was coming to find me. 

Here in this land of extreme carpeting and

creepy plastic-covered sofas,  I had managed the feat

of hiding in plain sight, fading into my surroundings

like that chameleon my friend had shown me.

I sat there, convinced I might never be found again,

and that it might take weeks, months, maybe years 

before my absence would work its way into this 

strangely animated Hungarian exchange.

Unnatural Law

 

Well into the sinecure of her summer,

she looks for amusements, 

laying subtle triggers 

bound to snag one far less aware, 

more likely to stumble against the power

of that raw disquisition, her proclaiming

the rules of relationship regulation 

as if stating scientific fact.

His response is supplication,

an argument against limits,

a plea for heightened engagement,

a celebration of their unity

prior to the inevitable parting.

She takes a parenthetical tone,

cautionary and unyielding.

He shows her a heart on fire,

a playlist keen to enflame and incite,

to pluck sensation from memory

and spark it to reanimation.

But she is keen to sever the connection,

to allay the fantods haunting her dreams,

to get on with the rest of her life.

Under the slick guise of sincerity,

she sweetly explains that sooner beats later, 

that there’s no reward in waiting for eventual pain.

He lies there after, prostrate, 

not quite hearing the words right in his mind,

all echoes and reverb, modulated nonsense

that tricked him into misery as maturation,

a death match of emotion versus reason.

 
 
 

THE COURTSHIP OF WINDS

© 2015 by William Ray