I guess the idea there
was that if I met a student,
of the Princeton Theological Seminary,
I’d see you could be that
and whatever came after
(a minister, a priest?)
and still have sex
or get married or both
and maybe she was suggesting
one of those for us,
though I doubt it now.
Wayne was friendly enough.
I’d like to know what I asked him,
since I didn’t know why
I was meeting him.
Mostly I was just in love with a girl –
and tennis and gin,
and a quarter-cut lime mixed with
There are forgotten reasons why
you didn’t do what you didn’t do,
but now you’ve only what still
never existed – Technicolor scenes
and whiskey ads, gunboats in Esquire,
the Senator before his subcommittee,
the microphone, people clinging
to his every word.
From where you watch he’s far away,
mute lips on a screen as sunlight
climbs the outer wall. Soon there’ll be
nothing left to catch it. It will unravel
in cold dark corners of space.
I’d like to be that boy
flat on the sidewalk in the sun.
He’s not wailing and his mother’s not scolding,
just patiently urging, Get up, as the boy
ponders the sky
and takes what comes as it comes.
Back when I worked at Charlie’s
in Seattle not in New York,
I got it for once from both sides –
the dreamy looks and jokes,
the ever-in-my-section, thumb-rubbing-
fingers like the promise of money –
and the thing itself – big tips and a
206- just for being me.
The money part’s the part that made me not
mind it overly much – though I’d hustle in and out
when it was a group of guys,
with their hush-before-arrival and
They could hope for their
“maybe later at the–”
where I’d never ever be. And so
it was nothing, nothing at all
until one day on the bus I
looked at a girl and she looked at me
until she looked away uncomfortably
and got off the bus.
Only then did I recall
the man who’d scared me off
with that same hunger on that same bus,
and thus became clear
what was ever clear to a girl:
Men will ever be menacing,
and I will ever be of them.