Ilsa Seeks Rick

Words from the Woman in the Red Dress

A.S.S.L. (American Street Sign Language)

I’ve been learning some new speak
American Street Sign Language
The questioning hands of lost sheep
Point left, look right. Turn back.
Moved to Amsterdam
Just shy of her red lights.

I am learning the language
Of bodies working the day shift.
To curve around their accent
With the sunlight, while it still shines
In on them.
It’s a glow far less flattering.

I have learned to speak with my palms
To slap my own wrists.
Say, sorry.
Say, nothing.
Not, victim. Not, poor thing,
Say “hallo”
Say human, say woman.
Say, K—— new friend and biology student.
Perhaps. the oldest profession could close the wage gap.
Dinner parties and leftover bread pudding.

I have learned to quiet the stutter
Of my double take
To look, don’t touch.
To make contact with the gaze
Of doppelgängers
Of daughters
I will not birth.

All my mother’s worries
Moved in to my ground floor apartment.
They put up grey curtains.

I come from America.
Where the first floor is numbered 1.
Here, it is zero.
Here, you begin with nothing.
With ground and sidewalk and windows.
With the rain kicked in at you.

In Amsterdam, window shopping
Has a flair for the literal.
For the uncanny mannequin.

No pictures
No children.
Come in.

“Who Are?”

Is it still- no,
Is that just rain still falling?
You know, dripping from the trees

Yeah it is,
it’s just
what is left.

They look like they think
it’s spring. You know?
Like they are just blooming.
It’s pretty. The light really.
I mean. I hate to tell them.

Is it fall already?

Not until September-
twenty first or twenty second?

They’re just setting their watch by it.



Mistaking the Ichor for Honey

The Best Place To Not See Paris

Chance encounters with old shadows.

Your wander
Loves the cobblestones
Breaks the hearts
of street signs
Forgets her glasses at home.

Where you been
hiding’ love?
Who you been
Keepin’ your secrets from?

You look good.
Reminds me
I was thinking ‘bout the moon
I should call her up.

That crazy thing
Dancing through her walk home
My, she use to stop it.
Time, that is
We used to make the clocks moan.

We used to make the clocks moan.