Thursday, March 10, 2011

Second Thoughts

For Gavin

I admit, I had them. Second thoughts.
You said that Verlaine and Rimbaud might be
the sort of partnership we could explore
poetically. I groaned inside, “Here we go—
how boring, how predictable, no way—
how un-American. He wants to waste
my time, my tears and sweat, reviving a
withered pair of old French pricks.” No thanks.
I walked through the East Village eyeing others—
mostly chicks. That sad relationship
would never do: a lousy metaphor
Verlaine/Rimbaud—a vacant stretch of earth
so intensely alkali even
the few rocks living there all want to die.

A dizzy spell, a rest, a little chai,
you stirred around with a tattoo. The gym,
the sight of Omar’s smooth Brazilian glans—
peeping at my firm, white fanny through
his loose foreskin—tantalized my teeth.
You gave the problem of our partnership
a bit more thought. Americans we’d be:
Emily and Edna, Dickinson, Millay,
wild words for you, soiled sainthood for me.
You made an offer I could not refuse.
I got to travel to Kyoto and
sleep in cherry blossoms, study monks,
write imaginary letters to a friend
laid up with Meniere’s disease.

Since returning from Japan, you have
been many things to me besides dizzy,
Emily: Diane Arbus, Shiva, Gandalf,
goats, top the list of your identities;
you are a martyr to Satyriasis,
Antonius’s lover, Hadrian,
the Emperor of Bunny World. What
you have never been with me so far,
sweetheart, is vulnerable to harm.
Nor will you be that man until next week,
when we finally meet. Jet-lagged, sand-bagged,
you will learn with horror I am not
quite the gal you ordered—not at all.
I am Cleopatra. I studied art

under Julius Caesar: how the heart
divides in parts. I march through men like Gaul.

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