Making the bed, quilts billowing in brief suspension
as paradise fades
in a kaleidoscope of washed out colors.
The coming spring is creeping in.
Your tight floral patterned skirt
and heavenly curves
make me light up a cigarette.
Choking dust settles on the floor boards,
in my coat pockets,
and on the still life print of a vase over-stuffed with gladiolas
that hangs above the bed.
I spoke with James the other day.
We were in his apartment, seated at the table;
a bottle of tonic water resting empty between us.
We had been drinking all night,
the vodka straight for the last hour.
Rain and ice steadily clattered on the window,
echoed on the linoleum.
It was late, perhaps one in the morning,
James’ black leather shoes were a perfect shine,
and he wore that
smooth suit of his; the one with the subtle pinstripes
that blend unobtrusively into obscurity.
Sweat on his forehead,
his finger swirling the cool rim of his glass.
“You write like a married man,” he told me
confident in his mental prowess and fat assets,
his glorious station in the afterlife.
He had been given assurances of them all
by the highest authority.
“Marriage is a requiredment when writing tech manuals,” I weakly retorted
outmatched as I was in my blue flannel shirt and brown cords.
And then in my tired and drunken state a sudden,
to see him nude struck me.
I imagined The Beatitudes ringing in my head as I peeled him bare.
Peeling off the lies
that had consumed my life
compartmentalized my moralities.
Stripping him of his silky defenses,
exposing his boisterous convictions
masking shallow insecurities,
and he, with his sticky sweet American smile,
his chocolaty brown conservative eyes,
all of him,
at my mercy.
Blessed I untied his shoes.
Blessed I laid his glasses on the table.
Blessed I loosened the knot of his tie.
Blessed his blazer dropped to the floor.
Blessed his buttons joyfully sang as I released them
one by one.
Blessed his belt came unfastened with a sigh.
Blessed my breath teased the small beads
of perspiration on his neck.
Blessed my hand traveled down his abdomen
my fingers feeling the rapture stuck in his pubic hair.
I envisioned his mouth tasting like the mint in our yard
whose fragrance hangs heavy in the hot humid air
of the summer night.
“But you are not a married man,” he grinned
and my fantasy was shattered
by the noxious poison issuing from his detestable teeth
and neatly trimmed fingernails.
The rotting flesh of his conquests trapped in their cracks and crevices.
I drank what remained in my cup and left,
meekly retreating down the street
under a torn umbrella.
When I was a child I met a cat once
at the bus stop,
a gray one who followed me home.
He liked to lay in sunshine by the bookshelf
or hide in mom’s flower beds.
I would sit with him, every now and then,
and sometimes tell him about my day,
or my dreams.
Other times we would just enjoy the afternoon together
without a word passing between us.
And so I feel it is with us.
Meeting by random design,
we journey through our life, and labor and play.
Tossing ourselves sporadically in the air
and laughing when we hit the ground.
We are honest in our words and in our silence,
warm each other’s heart,
provide a shield against paradise
and the overwhelming nature of the world.
Keeping the lies at bay.
You slip next to me, sitting on the arm of the chair
and stealing my cigarette, take a drag off of my smoke.
I grab your honey knee and marvel at your strawberry toenails.
“I love you,” you say, kissing my cheek.
“Your stories are always so peculiar.”