Don Giovanni

It is eighty degrees in December.
It is he, on one of his furloughs,
bringing himself — and hell — up to date.
My Don Juan, the better climber
(as the mercury yo-yos),
is in a newly roused state,
the world circumcised away
from an out-of-season bud
leaving at the scrupulous rim,
as it unfurls, a darker appliqué,
like O-positive frozen solid
at the sight of one’s resuscitated victim.

This rosebush assiduously forks over
its works where most grandifloras falter,
thriving as far into the year as Capricorn.
While named after a lover,
it decorates its own altar
and wields an extraordinary thorn:
once I saw it catch a football
in those semiquaver quasi-teeth;
it is three-headed, like Cerberus,
a hybrid drawing bloodlines from a root-ball
on hands all that’s impure lies beneath.
Hands can train it, barbarous

as it is, on an arbor, and I might like
to take its thick canes in harness,
first pouring cement as a base
(so it would know I meant business).
Always poised to strike,
they eventually undo their stays,
baying out like a window
of garnet, as at Chartres
(torture chamber in its basement,
or so I hear). I wonder how
such a daemon rose got its start,
what fairy tale explains its scent    ...    

And then I go out tonight
and find him, swiping right
on every pretty face in candlelight.
It is almost Christmas. Stacks
of square plates. (It’s an open plan.) Racks
of bottles. The whites and blacks,
clear glass, and stainless steel sieves
denote compliance with standards.
A wire basket of freckled pears
is transparency; sterilized knives
give full disclosure; and as regards
the stemware, due diligence dares

a slip, especially on chanteuses like these
salting down from state-of-the-art speakers.
(Or is it sugar?) Does the chorizo flambé
not deter him? Gold as all hell, Valkyries
stand tall with beer to the brim. Beakers
in Siren form flush with Chianti, if not ambi-
valence. Recalling the steel meshes
belting Monterosso’s
cliffs against the vox
Dei of the sea, the myth refleshes:
ordering, in the manner of heroes,
an Andromeda on the rocks.

More Poems by Ange Mlinko