In love poems we talk about eye color.
Your eyes are the color of the virginity that Brooke Shields just lost
And the luxury Oldsmobile she’ll give birth to nine months hence.
In benedictions we ask the firmament for mercy and riches.
You are large and bearded like the godhead in sanctuary etchings.
Through oral tradition, you taught us how to anger presidents with a lean.
Yours is the Sunday hat of fat-armed Baptist aunts.
But on you its wide brim and flop languish for disapproval.
Its tincture, cocaine in a sunbeam.
The words on your shirt are not explanation. They are augury.
Noise is going to happen because this more-than-man is mining for runs.
Prick up your ears only if you want to be deafened.
In sea chanteys we sing to forget what our roasted muscles know by rote.
But do take heart and know that the shore hovers ahead.
Or perhaps that is a discotheque. Or the nearest precinct.
This is why you hum chamber music at the plate.
Gotthold Lessing wrote that wine and love are the only two things
That keep a man from being a stone. In you, though, there is
An artery that has grown through your finger and into your cigarette,
Which it now garrisons with plush blood.
That is the elusive third thing
That keeps you from being just a man.
Your tongue prowls out of what we thought was your mouth
But turned out to be the stoop of a brownstone in Red Hook —
Back when it was dangerous, obviously.
In elegies we lament.
So I lament that the buildings of the boulevards
That housed the best nights ever had or never had
Are long shuttered,
Like coins over the eyes of a dead Roman.
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