Editor’s note: Dane Cervine’s poems have won, or been finalists for, awards from Adrienne Rich, Tony Hoagland, The Atlanta Review and Caesura. His work has appeared in a diverse range of publications, including The SUN Magazine, The Hudson Review, anthologies, short films, animation, newspapers and online. Cervine serves as Chief of Children’s Mental Health for Santa Cruz County, and has a small private practice as a therapist. Visit danecervine.typepad.com.
How Therapists Dance
Washington DC after a conference,
we head into the urban night
led by the jive-talking white ghetto boy
raised in black foster homes
bent on showing us the town. We
wander from night club to bar,
a mix of Black, Asian, Latino, White
earnest saviors eager to party, to strip
the mind of diagnostic prognostication,
to revel. Eventually, one by one, our group
slips back to the hotel till I am alone
with a young black woman who says
I want to show you one more place.
Down an alley, she leads me to a club
where I am the only white face in the joint,
and while she is gone to the bathroom,
the owner saunters over, asks how I’m doing,
says if you have any trouble here, come find me.
And I am suddenly more alone
than ever, till my young friend returns,
looks at my anxious face, smiles, says
this is what I wanted to show you.
Enlightenment Is a Bitch
At first it isn’t so bad—a taste of ecstasy,
the world covered in honey. Even snails
scrawl the names of Buddhas with their silvery trails.
But then, too much. Pears become unbearable,
wet white flesh so tender one could perish
contemplating the first taste.
Meditation becomes oddly redundant,
attention now like water, absorbed in tree-root,
plumbing; even fire hydrants with their red
stubby arms become mandalas, and worse,
the police siren revving its wail behind
my slow-moving car sounds like a mantra.
Even my wife’s complaints about me finally
sound true. I just bow. Kiss her slender hands.
Carry the garbage outside, but damn! The moon!