Issue 156, Fall 2000
I. (in propria persona)
I can answer only to Adonis—
call me that, and you'll find I'm easily
managed. Some time ago, I was promised
you. I think it was I who promised.
On a Saturday night, I wished I'd find
your nape, and salt, and thigh. And your psyche.
I can't remember my priorities.
At an August party, I'd been drinking
daiquiris all night, flirting by myself,
codependent on the sidelong glances
filched from the helpless curiosity
of those I imagined to be dancing
with me-as water can't help reflecting
shimmers to conceal its airy defects.
Granted, I was drunk, aroused and lonely
(perhaps this is a chronic condition?)
but I'd been swerving up Parisian back alleys.
There, I tripped too close on Elysian quays,
was kissed dry by drunks descending
from the street after spitting on me.
It was an ill-ordered routine of fluids
(with whatever wine gods had spiked our punch), flattened
by their gamy breath and conyersation.
I felt that nothing ever entered them
fully, filled them like sluices under
blitzing rain. No, those puddle-drakes drank by
sewage drains, pissing from their muddy seats,
their mucked remains unspooling by their feet.
I'm rambling. I can ramble when I speak
with you, since this is my own promise.
When I returned, pretty Paris spent,
I lived days on the beach, digging crabs where
they'd sucked airholes like bamboo stuck in sand.
Nubby fingers in the black and tan,
both knees red with rubs of salt, I bored away.
Dozens of them filled blue plastic buckets.
Though they were young—not quite hard-shelled—
they lay still, their shape too off tO make a stack.
I'd set them free along the coast
where stunned, suspicious, they'd stall. There we'd wait
where the sea's scar wets and fades, receding
to the gorge from which troves can be ferried.
That is to say, I had little to say.
But since I found no ease in scenery
I moved inside like some romantic, played
at what I thought must be serene.
Yet what happens when one spends too much
time speaking alone is uninspired.
Being groped by drunks is not a pastime
though I've tried to make it seem enlivened.
And I never ate the crabs, or even teased them.
This wasn't what I sought as power.
I have no choice where I spend most seasons.
Instead, I follow where I'm led, down
steps of sand or stone where there is not a soul,
or the souls there are boil hot.