In Red
         – Harmony in Red, 1908 Henri Matisse

Enough red to end
all desire for sex—reflected

in her stern countenance.
Her stance mocks

any sense of calm.
Neck, collar-entrapped,

right hand gripping
an epergne as though

it needed protection
from restraining vines,

frenzied bouquets.
Hair crouched on her bent head

like a heavy squirrel.
Two chairs, incompatible in scale,

failing to suggest depth.
Nothing as it should be,

but that tumultuous red.
Blue vines mounting redness,

crawling up red walls, grasping
relentlessly, red.

The paler red, vinegar,
in the cruet, must be sunlit

but such an obvious lie:
there is no source of light.

No outside, no
actual world. Only the faux

window out, no


Afraid to Enflame
                  –Everywhere is terrible and wonder-filled and overwhelming if you open                   your senses to the actual pulsating heat, Salman Rushdie


In August heat, hungry



                  above a mud wasp nest.

On TV,
         polar bears feasted

         gutting large whales

                           claw by claw

                                    burning white fur

From slammed doors and wrath


         lambent embers.

                  Had to be smart,

                  mind, an agile teenager

                  reading each word’s blaze

                            spoken or not.


Rebecca Kaiser Gibson
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