January 18-24, 1999: Stazja McFadyen

Week of January 18-24, 1999

Stazja McFadyen
Winner of the 1998 Poetry Super Highway Award
for Favorite Featured Poet

Stazja McFadyen


Stazja McFadyen lives in Austin, Texas with hard-working husband Cody, musician son Michael and best dog in the world Chelsea She is an active member in the Austin Poetry Society and Austin International Poetry Festival, and publishes “The Map of Austin Poetry”, a weekly e-newsletter She hosts East Side Black & White Poets monthly at Ebony Sun Java House, and a weekly Austin Poets at Large venue at Quackenbush Coffee House She thanks everyone who voted for her in the 1998 PSH Awards and invites you all to a pool and spa party at her house, Sunday, April 18, 1999 at 6 a.m, following a midnight to dawn open mic RSVP stazja@aol.com

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by Stazja McFadyen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author (Which at this point is not easy to obtain without a Ouija Board).

Where the Music Takes You

Capitol city
Hard as a rock on the surface
Wouldn’t you know
Hot little jazz club
Has to be underground
Congress Avenue
Heart of downtown
Easy to find
When you know where it’s at
Past the scaffolding
Door on the right
Down a flight
Narrow staircase
Smoky cellar
The Elephant Room
Stage in the back
Neon green martini glass
Backdropping jazz men
Drummer in drivers seat
Shifts into tempo
Ready to go
Buckle up sister
Taking the A train
Riding the riffs
When Tony breathes into a saxophone
Air turns into jazz
Moving over to give his bass man
Finger space
Serpentine rhythms
Snake their way
To your hands and feet
Connecting the beat
To the tables and chairs
Piano keys fly into orbit
Keyboard hands
Speak ivory language
Elephant tusks never sounded
So good
When Tony blows holes in his flute
You are no longer in
An underground place
Where the music takes you
Can only be seen with your eyes closed
Loosing the walls for a midnight second
Floating on African waterfalls
Lasting forever
Over too soon
Come in for an easy landing
To earth and solid surfaces
Neon green martini glass
Still backdrops stage
Nothing went anywhere
Except you and the music
Easy to find
When you know where it’s at.


You should see the way
she tosses a lock of golden sunlight
out of her eyes as though
it were merely strands of hair,
as though men haven’t died for less
And how her lips
like rose petals spread
in a smile so sweet
you can taste the honey
in her veins
To hear her soothe away
the puckered frown of a pouting child
is to wish you could
snuggle up in her lap
and nestle against her soul
When she dazzles you
with her sapphire eyes
all faceted with dreams
you clutch your heart
to keep the truth from breaking
loud enough to reach her ears.

Boarding House Concerto

Rebecca has the best room on the second floor It has a porch enclosed with windows facing east and north Violets and Swedish ivy hanging baskets
bask in morning sun Rebecca clips a blistered leaf with fingernails, lingers
to watch a Chicano mama pin her laundry to a rope
strung between a pair of fig trees Rebecca slides exploratory fingers
over barren abdomen
She wears a gold Italian bracelet,
a dozen lira conjoined as charms
on twenty-two karat chain When she lifts her willow arm
and turns her reedy wrist,
dangling coins dance like wind chimes
Somewhere in a drawer, expired passport
stamped with European ports of call,
no mention of Italian husband somewhere else
At night, Black David tiptoes
to shared bath on the second floor Drawn by distant tingle of gypsy music,
he presses his ear against her door,
wonders whether Rebecca
wears finger cymbals and toe bells to bed
Above, in his half of pine-paneled attic
White David graduate student with appetites
makes what passes for love with a married woman
who will be gone before morning
Margaret the other attic tenant
taxi dances,
makes her rent on time
sustained by late night burgers
and bacon biscuit red-eye gravy breakfast
when she makes it home at daybreak,
sleeps through afternoons and earthquakes,
watches Wheel of Fortune lying on White David’s bed,
ignores him eyeing her in flimsy red kimono
Harold is an open book with pages blank,
his life plot fried by modern medical
electrode censorship,
his crime obscured in institution records He spends his evenings writing letters of inquiry,
seeks a simple explanation,
monthly disability check is little compensation
Harold takes his tea at Denny’s
with a black-haired English woman
who rooms across the street They split a plate of whole wheat toast
frugally glazed with orange marmalade,
alternate listening and telling tales
until melancholy of missing lives sets in He walks her home by way of a park They feed the ducks cellophaned packets of crackers
pocketed from coffee shop condiment tray She asks him in for a simple meal —
her quarters boast a kitchenette Excuse prepared, he must write letters She supplicates her escort with rheumatic eyes Harold is kind,
unsavory English cooking be damned!

Vicky lugs her massive body
up and down the staircase,
cleans the bathrooms,
changes bedding once a week,
snoops around from nothing in particular,
keeps the rent collected,
sorts the mail anticipating Harold’s disappointment
Vicky works for room and board
while Norman does apprenticeship He will be a Union man
and they will buy a home She will have as many children
as their income will afford That will be the way of things
and she will never live alone She will never live alone This refrain will be her grand finale:
she will never live alone.

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