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Carolyne Wright: Two Poems from ‘Masquerade’


Round: Midnight

These coastal nights in candle-flickering dark

I ride you easy, bare-backed and bare-breasted,

your sex straight up inside me like a second 

spine. After blue goblets of merlot and apple 

cordial I spill on our equivocal skin,

your indulgent laughter rumbles like Robeson’s

basso as I joke and sing back-up to your vowels

of Ife and Igbo, Benin and Congo Square— 

syllables that tumble us into the bedcover’s dunes 

shifting through candle-flicker dark. I say I 

ride you easy, straight up inside me is 


my second spine. Sweet, so sweet, you murmur 

and my moves groove deep, reddening the emphasis 

of winter wine spilled on our skin, midnight’s 

tinted goblets and Benin’s call and response. 

I rock on your cock-horse down to Banbury 

Cross, down to the consanguine root of my childhood’s

oldest rhyme, where reason’s bare bones falter 

and Robeson intones with us in Old Man River’s

candle-hungry dark. Our shadows move, huge against 

drawn blinds where midnight’s coastal dunes


sift through shifting window chinks, grain

by grain, moan by moan. My second spine

deep rhythm, Benin to Banbury, we rock 

like Rockin’ Dopsie, my oldest cradle-song

down to your Delta roads: blue country

schooling us in sweat and contradictions

of skin pressed on skin on this peninsula

shifting in sand-smooth dark. Sweet, so sweet

you groan as we move deep, your hands

smoothing my breasts to pleasure and


I laugh and cry as your rumble under me

reddens its emphasis and your sperm-knot 

splits, spilling into my hidden river course, dividing me 

into myself, as if reason’s fever-trance 

broke, so sweet, the dune-swells hold their breath 

and I withhold my pleasure till your Rockin’ Dopsie 

rocks on home. Then we stroke and 

shudder in the blues’ slowing 

momentum, wrapped in each other’s midnight

skin where we lean toward sleep

these candle-flickering nights in coastal dark.



Endecasyllabics: About the Women (Ruthie)

“She’s not out of touch with reality, she’s just not interested.”

                        —David Richmond, photographer of Ruth Grace Moulon (1934 – 2008)


I want to talk with Ruthie, discover

who is this woman, inside the Duck Lady

façade?  The roller skates, thrift-shop wedding gown

and veil, the fuzzy ducklings that parade 

behind her through the Quarters on Mardi Gras.

Rumors of burly, blue-uniformed police

watching over her, asleep on Jackson Square


park benches. I find her in a nameless bar

on Dauphine Street, plucking at her torn voile skirt

and runs in her pilled cotton stockings. She glares 

when I ask to take her photo: “That’ll be

a dollar.” Her drawl is steely, her outstretched

fingers ending in carmine-painted claws. I

falter before her scowl, her desiccated 


voice, her figure, perched on a broken-back chair,

tough as a folded bird. I hand over

the dollar, aim and focus—she sits up straight,

grin-grimaces for the flash. Then she nods, turns back

to her glass with its Jax Brewery logo.

My deeper questions? They never had a chance. 

Excerpted from Masquerade. Copyright 2021 by Carolyne Wright. Used with permission of the publisher, Lost Horse Press. All rights reserved.

Carolyne Wright. Photo by Sherwin Eng. 

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This entry was posted on March 16, 2022 by in Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , , , .

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