Commedia dell'art by Michael Murray
1. Pantalone

He is in his caravan hooking up eyes
of a black dress; is this how he feels?
He checks the hang, lights up inside
and steps out into black night, high heels
on the caravan steps, opens a compact:
eyeliner, lipgloss (check those teeth; hair's damp),
shaved legs feel sheer in the night air, back bare
flashing white to the kerosene lamp.

Far off dogs bark; a horse stamps in its box.
The other is passing, white face lifted, stops,
a black tear masara'd beside his lips.
A kiss melting, tunic pulling, lips on a nipple...
lean in towards him, the hot night stills.
In the distance headlights wind down a hill.
2. Pierrot

She cradled the juggling clubs tight against
her white breasts; black wood slender, balanced
by the contrast; polished to a grease-paint gleam.
He watched from a straw-bale as her fingers danced
white around those long necks, pitched them -
he lurched, skin crackled, the club bellies glittering,
silver waistcoats, wet sunlight fob-watching them
as it slanted through awnings a knife had slitted.

The clubs propellered upwards, a cascade, a fountain
of weight and pivot; he saw his face mounting
and then returning, reflected on a club,
and her own white face on another club,
rising and falling; then the black diamond
of the other's face on another club's spin

and murderous together, as she caught them again.