Monday, August 31, 2009

poem of the day 08.31.09

the potato chip and wine man

you say the loft is safe because
of me,
well, all right,
i think it’s the sketches resting
on the floor
but i’m just
the potato chip and wine man
so what in the hell do i know?

you say i look serene
on balconies
falling in love with cities
all over again
but anyway i’m just
the potato chip and wine man
so that can’t be true

you say the poems
come in quality and quantity
sure, sure
it’s easy for
the potato chip and wine man
to scribble down words

because i just sit here
in the living room
an open bag of chips
and a bottle of wine
before noon
as the rain falls
as people have their days
as bombs besiege afghanistan
and half the world
has gone to hell

all of this brilliance, you see,
it just
overtakes me
and i don’t know what to
do with it
so i come here
to this room
to the land of pretty pictures
and white noise

you say you want a revolution
well, you know,
the potato chip and wine man
just wants to make you
laugh because
he loves playing the fool

you say to harness all of the
loneliness from your
and make it great art
jesus, dear,
i’m just the potato chip and wine man
i ain’t picasso
i ain’t lennon
i ain’t god

i’m just
the potato chip and wine man
humming an old tune for you
singing an old song for everyone
the potato chip and wine man
praying for the death of the sun
doing a strange dance
down the alleyway
letting the chips fall where they may
next to broken bottles
and shattered lives

Saturday, August 29, 2009

poem of the day 08.29.09

here's an old one from those long lost Buffalo days:

rivers of piss

we talk of love
and loss of time
the two of us
in this city,
even if only for
another year.
we’ve been here
before, dear.
the victims of pittsburgh,
the tragic darlings
of new york city.
but neither were
as bad as this
the dupes of buffalo,
drowning in niagara water,
keeping afloat amongst
the dead,
going for each other’s
while trying to
stay above the surface.
but, yes, i know
this sinking
is my fault
all of it.
the yelling
the complaining
the drinking
the talk of suicide,
and this incapacitating
fear i’ve developed
over everything.
but that has changed.
so let my tears
be the judge for once
because they’ve finally
done it,
and this place has
finally broken me.
there is no more
i can say,
except that i feel all right.
i’ve surrendered the sadness
and given up my buoy
to stick my head
back under the murky water
and look for you,
hopefully finding myself
in the process.


Friday, August 28, 2009

poem of the day 08.28.09


“i have them all over
the place,” he said, “kids,
grandkids, cousins, aunt and uncles,
and wives.”

“you had a wife,” she said.

“once a wife,
always a wife,”
he answered.

and then
they were quiet
he drank his beer
she drank her beer
and something bad
by the moody blues
on the jukebox.

“you could’ve
called her you ex-wife,”
she said. “at least for my
benefit, you could’ve.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

poem of the day 08.27.09

missing things

reading august kleinzahler poems
on the train ride home from work
i almost miss the puerto rican girl sitting by herself
with streaks of red dyed into
her long, waxy black hair
the yellow halter top she is wearing
that is lacing around the circle neck.
oh, how it just shows the top of her caramel breasts!
i almost miss the pack of hasidics arguing
and the old woman who has her dog shoved into a duffle bag.
and what am i doing reading this kleinzahler anyway?
i’ve been struggling with this book for over a month
and just don’t get him.
i keep going back to that picture of august in the back
holding a dozen flowers and a glass of bourbon in his hands
instead of reading his poems anyway,
wishing he was like the man in the photo and not so precise.
but isn’t that the way it always is?
imagine all of the people that i have let down
looking or acting a certain way.
but i keep missing things because of this book
like people crying or laughing
or stuff my wife asks me to do
like my own poem ideas
like the way the puerto rican girl
kicks her legs as she reads, laughing quietly
at something on the page.
her own private literary joke.
she’s not reading kleinzahler
but something else, something easy on the mind
the cover of which i cannot make out, though i try.
and there i am looking at a book in some girl’s lap
missing things, how funny,
when the train doors open
and i almost miss the man wearing a trench coat in summer heat
the crackhead staggering in the doors
leering when his eyes aren’t rolling into the back of his head
the blonde who walks in wearing a tight black dress
and a thin white blouse that shows the red bra
she unfortunately chose to put on this morning
probably in a fit, in a rush
definitely not chosen after reading poems
written by august kleinzahler
in some kind of word vomiting daze.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

poem of the day 08.26.09

dear mom

no, i’m not dead
i simply did not go online yesterday
so i didn’t see the two emails
that you sent.
and i don’t bring the phone out
with me, so i didn’t get
the two frantic messages that you left.
but mom i’m not dead
although it’s kind of you to worry.
i went to the museum
if you must know.
i talked cubism with braque and picasso
and hung around the hookers with van gogh.
i didn’t slip and fall in the shower
like you thought.
shower? it’s not even thursday yet.
and i didn’t commit suicide
like your neighbor’s daughter’s boyfriend did
in florida
maybe i would if i had to live in florida
so i’m not dead mom
but i did sleep in rauschenberg’s bed
and ran around in masks with ensor
i laughed at the audacity of warhol
and threw darts with jasper johns
i wondered where basquiat was
i bought a postcard of the three musicians
i got drunk on beer and wine with ally
in the grassroots tavern
but i didn’t die yesterday.
no one mugged me at gunpoint
or stuck in knife in my chest.
no air conditioning units fell on my head
and the oven didn’t blow up.
new york city isn’t an episode
of law and order
all of the time
so please turn off the tv and stop worrying.
learn how to forget this modern world,
where everyone can be reached in one click.
where if you’re in london or paris these days
you might as well be sitting at home.
just know that some of us like
to be left alone on our days off.
i know that you might not be
one of those types of people
but i am.
so just remember that i’m not dead,
i went to the art museum
and saw a few friends that i hadn’t seen
in a long while.
and i hope everything is fine your way.
sorry that mitchell and carol
are getting a divorce
and that it’s so hot and muggy
in pittsburgh
i’ll give you a call next weekend, okay?
sunday evening
same bat time.
same bat channel.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

poem of the day 08.25.09

hot nights

hot nights
like these
where the sweat drips
into your mouth
onto the page

hot nights
where you could
easily commit a murder
but don’t

you are thankful that
the streets are empty,
everyone inside with their faces
pressed against the a/c
with the television humming hell
in the background

even the bars are dead

hot nights
like these
where the air doesn’t move
you think about the bottle waiting
at home
your wife
your bed
and in the window your tabby car
laying flat on the sill
trying for a little breeze

hot nights
like these
like this one in sweltering brooklyn
the lights of your living room
a beacon glowing into the street
faint music playing
you stop and think

hot nights
like these
the world is almost a beautiful place

Monday, August 24, 2009

poem of the day 08.24.09

cat lover

hot and sweaty
i come down the street
at night
he’s coming out of my
apartment building
we know each other
the way tenants
know each other.
we hold elevator doors.
we grunt hello in the hallway.

in the window
is my ten year-old tabby cat.
i stop outside of it
to say hello to her
and that’s when he stops.

“you know, every day
your cat is in the window,” he says.

“yes,” i say
wishing that i hadn’t stopped
but waited until inside
to say hello
to the cat.

“well, i guess that’s what
they do, cats,’ he says.

i don’t say anything
but just stand there
until he turns and walks
up the street
like he’s in a hurry.

there must be another guy
on the next block, i think,
coming back from his own
eight hours of hell
who hasn’t yet been hit
with a dose
of obvious, superfluous conversation.

Friday, August 21, 2009

poem of the day 08.21.09

i’m in hell

fat teenage girls
on the train
in bikini tops
and short shorts
stretch marks reaching
across their stomachs
and all along the backs of their legs
they are cackling and
whipping each other
with wet towels
the train floor is soaked
with running water and soda
the little girls they are with
are throwing potato chips
and chicken wings all over the place
the boys are doing chin ups
using straphanger poles.
i realize that i am witnessing
the fall of man
the end of civilization
the decline of the west
only not the way spangler
envisioned it.
to the right of me is a man
playing reggae music
out of his phone
i look at the unused headphone jack
and wonder what it would be like
to strangle the life out of him
right here on the train
would it stop the teens
spraying water?
the girls throwing food?
the boys and their chin up?
i doubt it.
instead i close the book
that i was trying to read
and lift my eyes up toward
the ceiling
thinking this is the sort of shit
that makes a man go crazy
or find god.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

poem of the day 08.20.09

ain’t no cure

as leaves begin to fall from dying trees
as the garbage rots on sweltering streets
as men sit on stone stoops yelling
and drinking warm beer
as women walk by in halter tops and shorts
that let their asses hang out
as hate conquers love
as the moon dangles in the black sky
like a dirty fingernail
as little gods make little plans for little people
as dogs die howling at ghosts on film
as insomnia runs rampant in quiet neighborhoods
as the windows stick or shatter
and the refrigerator breaks
as the ice cream man becomes your enemy
as bloody lovers break into apartments
at three in the morning
as novels sit unfinished on yellowing paper
as books become the new dinosaurs
as children become flesh jelly
as the mind becomes a sieve
and the fish all dry up on shore
cresting in as the water lever rises
as the ice cubes run out before the last drink
as dinner disagrees with the bar art of life
and as trains run late
as bombs break up elections for fools
as the days and months linger like jury duty
as poetry fades
as the elevator gets stuck between two floors
as the word hello is just as good as saying fuck you
just as arabs and jews will always hate each other
and the rest of us pretend to get along
as freedom equals being bored
so sits the sun in the sky
patiently waiting to burn out
and turn it all back into frozen dust

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

poem of the day 08.19.09

more than most of us

the agent has just agreed
to take my wife’s book
and we were sitting on the couch
having a drink

“he said i do an outline and then
rewrites, and then hopefully we sell
the thing and sit back and get rich,”
she said. “can you imagine it?
a book. a writing career. actual money.
no more bills to worry about.
no more student loans.” she laughed
and said, “i’ll buy you a castle.”

i had some scotch and said,
“it all sounds great.”

“but i shouldn’t think things
like that.”


“it’s wrong. what if it doesn’t
what if i’ve just jinxed myself?”

“it’s okay,” i said, refilling
the drinks.
“it’s fine to fantasize like that.
everyone does it.”

“you too?”

“every night.”

then we were quiet a moment
lost in our drinks
and human dreams.

“but i wouldn’t quit work,” she
suddenly said. “at least not right away.”

“why not?”

“i wouldn’t quit until
i made enough so that
you could quit too.”

“are you sure?” i asked.

“it’s only right,” she said.
“you hate to work.
more than most of us,
you hate going to work with
a passion.”

she was certainly right about that.

“thank you,” i said.

then we toasted dreams
and good fortune
and fell silent again to the humming
of our fans
and i thought
well, there’s another reason
amongst thousands
as to why i
married her.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

poem of the day 08.18.09

evil eyes

she comes up
the subway steps
with two fleshy shoulders
and a thinly strapped dress
that’s cut just so at the knees
it shows some good thigh
when the stale air
makes it move

she comes up
the subway steps
with her blonde hair thrown back
into a ponytail
her beach tan radiating
wearing black heels that
enhance the curve
of her calves

i look
all the men look
all of us suffering the sun
we all watch the way she sways
toward the stop light
she is natural perfection
and she knows it
but i don’t think she wants any
of our lusty gazes

she comes up
the subway steps
clutching one of those eco-saving
grocery bags
her mouth turned down
beads of sweat on a face
that has no make-up running
and she has the most perfect set
of evil eyes
that i’ve ever seen
saying so much more
than the smallest word of protest
lingering as an echo
on this sweaty block

Monday, August 17, 2009

poem of the day 08.17.09

staring at new jersey

some of them are having children
or building mansions by a lake
but i am one day past the last panic attack
riding a train
and staring at new jersey
as it unfolds in the setting sun
some of them have jobs
that can get them through it
pets that are wonderful and docile
and happy to see them
but i am two beers up on the world
slumped on this train
and staring at new jersey
counting the chemical plants
on the way to hoboken
some of them have vast florilegiums
of writing
or lead abstemious lives and wake
feeling on top of the world
while i’m hunched over on this train
staring at new jersey
nursing a hangover in the summer heat
bad knees, bade guts, and all
wondering where the good times have gone
for others religion can get them through
the storm
or the poets and novelists
the television or a digital box
full of music at their disposal
or it’s going to the mall or online
and emptying their bank accounts on trifles
but my heart is a work of ancient cartography
a road to nowhere i’d want to go
the shelves are bare
and the meat is rancid on the counter
as i sit staring at new jersey
so beautiful and grotesque
that it makes my eyes hurt
stuck on the same path
just lost and lost again
with the stink of the hudson wafting
in the distance
and the empire state building
daring me to come back for one more bloody round.

Friday, August 14, 2009

poem of the day 08.14.09

i've reached the end of my poetry resources due to novel writing. so i offer this:


some of them used to say the worst kind
of shit.

one went around the classroom doing
“duck, duck, goose,” and when he got to me
he said “cow.”

oh, the way the room exploded on that one.

another took his pencil tip and jammed it
right into my thigh, but i got him back
by not changing the way my face looked
even though i could feel it all rushing up
inside of me.

on the playground they sang to the tit-less
girls “jay might be fat, but you three are flat,”
and i think maybe i joined in because it sure
beat the shit out of the other alternative.

and the tit-less girls loved those boys,
but they never paid me any mind.

i’ve had friend’s mothers comment on what
i was eating, and i’ve had them take the food away.
i’ve been called the worst by the best of friends,
and i’ve had strangers shove me down halls for no
reason other than whatever was hanging around
on the surface.

when i was ten, i was tormented by a pack
of girls in the grade school hallways all because
i told a friend that one of them was pretty.

i’ve been measured by old jewish men
for polyester pants in smoky pittsburgh stores
because nothing in the department store
would fit
and i have had humiliation rained down on me
in the most comforting and secure places

i’ve danced with ones i loved, only to watch
them walk off with others
that same night
and i’ve declared my soul in the streets,
only to watch them drive away into the neon
of another lost connection.

there were so many endless nights
in endless childhood bedrooms
with music played out of a shitty boom box
on the hardwood floor
where i lay pining and pining away
over blank-eyed girls that were too dumb to talk.

i’ve been from new york to san francisco
and back
and i’ve seen the degradation on a brooklyn street
and some days when i play back the past
in my head it becomes too much

but it’s never enough to really get at me now
all you ghosts
all you hooligans and tormentors
all you lost women with your empty lives now
all of you, never knowing then what you were creating
but i knew
i knew it all along
and i just want to say thank you because the lessons you
taught me meant the world to me
because i’ve got a skin that’s thick and gray
and if anyone comes at me now
they better do it with knives out
and blood running down their face
otherwise it’s going to be a hot time
in the old town tonight.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

poem of the day 08.13.09

all the world is a stripper pole

the little teen queen
dances and shakes her ass on the television
making the front pages
of the tabloids
and she’s as lethal as
a chinese garbage incinerator
as threatening as a typhoon
in taiwan

i want to eat her methane
i want to lap up her carbon dioxide

the way she moves
and twirls her hips
are almost too much for me
they might be too much more
for another lonely guy
in the rust belt
thinking some of that smile and flesh
is owed to him
because that’s why he puts
on cologne

she’s so cool
shaking that luxurious hair
and doing twirls around
a stripper pole on the stage
man, she knows she got them
the thirteen years old boys
and all the rest of us
just sixteen and making her
sexual statement
making her hillbilly parents the toast
of the town once again

i wonder what she’s like
when she’s not onstage
is it all innocent
pizza and ice cream
and trips to the mall
is she deep
is she worried about the national
health care debate too
or are the corporate handlers
keeping her hot between the legs
revved up for all of us gents
numb and high on
premium cable

i can’t keep watching her
that gummy teen smile
that gyrating little rich whore
with those two little breasts
that ass in black shorts
and those long, tanned
tennessee bred legs

those myanmar dictators
should put her under house arrest
if she ever gets loose
if she ever lets go
of that shinning stripper pole
gleaming under those hollywood light
hot enough to melt
arctic permafrost
during the next
ice age.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

poem of the day 08.12.09

dead flies

dead flies
lay in window gutters
as i drink a scotch
in ninety degree heat
dead flies
they lay there
three of them in one window
and two in the other
as the cats sleep
on the hardwood floor
and i read a newspaper
that is three days old
dead flies
lay upturned
their blood colored eyes
staring blankly into my face
as i eat an ice cube
and worry about
the electric bill
i sweep dead flies
off the floor
and they lay bunched
up with dust balls
and torn paper
some of their wings
missing from their bodies
as i hear laughter
from outside
young women dressed
in only sports bras
and lycra shorts
their tan flesh covered in sweat
their asses round and tight
water bottles at their lips
dead flies
laying in window gutters
while i check the refrigerator
for something to eat
as the ice cubes
crackle in the new glass of scotch
my stomach rumbles
and i realize that it’s not getting
any cooler
any time soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

poem of the day 08.11.09


i am at day one
of a six-day work week
and we are on the couch
in the sweat of august
and you pour me a drink
while i tell you
i don’t think i can make it
i don’t know how much
more of this i can do
getting up at five in the morning
to pound out redundancy
the job, the hours of public servitude
the general daymare of dealing
with the demands of the masses
coming home to this apartment
with the swirl of cat hair floating around
the soft odor of street-side garbage
and cat shit permeating the air
the same foods made on the same days
the only respite our once a week
trip to the bar to swim in the misery
and joy of others
i tell you that i think i’m going mad again
although i don’t know what
i expect you to say in response
i tell you that i might not
make the vacation in october
that the world might have gotten to me by then
i tell you to just burn me up
and toss me in an old coffee can,
scatter me in a lonely alleyway
and you tell me it is only two months
and i smile and say don’t worry about me
anyway because
i’m just being dramatic for drama’s sake
and who ever gets enough drama in this world?
it’ll be all right
all right, i say
while we drink our sweating drinks
my soul headed tantivy toward
the next thing anchoring to bring me down
because when misery flows
it bubbles up so much
and who knows what all right means, anyway?

Monday, August 10, 2009

poem of the day 08.10.09


sit in the backseat
for 7 ½ hours
while they argue
and i just don’t get it
i can’t find that much
to argue about
and i love to argue
so i sit there
and dream of london
while they fight
over their new house
and answering the phone
the way he swears at drivers
who cut him off
how fast he’s going
how slow she drives
i sit in the back
and dream of cans of beer
of shots of scotch
and herman melville
cursing myself
for being too cheap
to take a plane
while they prattle
on about taxes
and paying healthcare costs
for the poor
and their neighbors
or who forgot to take out the trash
who’s going to shovel snow
once the new house is built
as i sit in the back
and think, christ, it’s only july
hot ugly july
that never seems to end
in the backseat of this car
going eighty-five miles per hour
through the state of pennsylvania
with nothing in my belly
but car exhaust
and suicidal thoughts
as they start in on each other again
over who’s under more pressure
at their job.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

poem of the day 08.08.09

hello, i must be going

standing on the corner
of nostrand at eastern parkway
in the heat
a cup of coffee in my hand
nursing a hangover
or maybe still drunk
left the oven on for twenty-four
straight hours
and the computer on maybe longer
broke a wine glass
while emptying two bottles
in the quiet of a friday night
scaring the cats
scaring my wife
blowing fuses trying
to toast a stale bagel
binging on scotch and cheap french
like the worst kind of polack lout
because i’m trying to kill
the summer
but i’m still standing on the corner
of nostrand at eastern parkway
a full saturday work day ahead of me
and time is moving slow
my insides are blown to smithereens
but to tell you the truth
i feel all right
i feel like a prizefighter
i feel so all right
that i want to sparge my feelings
on the next smiling face that walks by
and then pirouette down the next block
to whatever music
is playing out of the cars
sitting idly in the morning traffic

Friday, August 7, 2009

poem of the day 08.07.09


read my journal
and discovered that i am
that nothing ever
happens to me
except the passing
of another day.

wish i could sit in silence
with basho.

clean issa’s hut.

brooklyn is so
hot and weary
i am nothing
but a refrigerator
full of scotch
rotting iceberg lettuce
and an old box
of arm and hammer
lingering toward
the dying light
in the back.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

poem of the day 08.06.09

praying for pizza in the rain

we’re carrying this pizza in the rain
a rain that keeps getting harder with each step
and we can see home from here
but it does us no good
my wife has an umbrella over the pizza box
but it’s still getting wet
she’s soaked all the way through
we’re carrying this pizza in the rain
and i’m praying to the gods for clemency
and all i can think is goddamn it
please don’t let this pizza get ruined
because it means so much to us
i’ve worked five days straight for this pizza
i’ve skipped lesser meals
i’ve eaten salads as entrees
and my wife has choked down fat free yogurt
and fruit for this pizza
and it’s all going to come down to the fucking rain?
you have to be kidding me
i’ve walked five sweltering miles a day for this pizza
and we’ve answered the same questions
over and over again, day in and day out
we’ve written bills in the hundreds of dollars
and i’ve sat on packed, stinking subway cars for this pizza
this pizza that we’re carrying in the rain
with the cardboard box beginning to welt
and the bottom buckling
and the top sagging in the middle
stuck in all of that mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce
son of a bitch, i’ve sold my soul for this pizza
my wife has too
we’ve encountered unspeakable horrors
of the day to day for this pie
so let us have it you cosmic, holy pricks
i mean we’re only steps away from the apartment
so come on
but the rain is getting worse
so we stop underneath an awning advertising legal help
as the sky rips open even more, like a zeusian fart
and the pizza box becomes an ugly u shape
the pie getting wet and cold and deformed inside
my wife looks at me and i try to smile
but damn it
goddamn it
deities are nothing but skid marks on the plight
of the world, large or small,
and in some lives nothing can ever go right
on a wednesday evening in the city

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

poem of the day 08.05.09

discussing art

i like watching
the rain fall down
washing out a summer day
the way the gray clouds
and abundant drops of water
keep a gallimaufry
of indistinguishable people
off of the street.
call me sentimental, i guess.
and i like you too
sitting there with that glass of bourbon
after breathless sex
discussing francis bacon
and what it means to make art.
i’ve never really wanted to do it
before, you know,
discuss art,
but there’s something about you
the way you look in the pale light
holding that sweating drink
that makes the topic seem all right.
or maybe i’m just caught in the afterglow
my mind floating
my heart made into mush
sitting like dough in my chest
waiting for you to levigate out the lumps.
i’m just a dog when i get like this
wagging my tail
i’d follow you anywhere.
and i think i’ve learned how to swoon
after twelve years in the mix
with you baby.
that is to say, i feel no trepidation
in my soul
when your eyes beckon me back
toward the bedroom
as the rain begins to fall harder
and all conversation
comes to a stop.
i’m just glad you keep bringing me
along for the ride.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

poem of the day 08.04.09

gallery blues

the woman with
the child on her shoulders
who keeps crying
the man with the camera
and video
crowding every space
to get a good shot
the ones shouting
arguing with the security guard
because he won’t let them touch
the van gogh’s
the ones who have to stand
in front of one painting
for ten minutes
holding their chins
discussing every nuance
of the work
in details that would make
the artist want to die
if he weren’t already
or the others that come up
behind you after you’ve
made your own
aesthetic deductions about a
the ones who have to make
some idiotic point
and ruin it all
why? why do they come out
like this on a beautiful august saturday?
isn’t there a ballgame on television?
the circus in town?
a hot dog vendor outside
with a lonely constitution about him?
a forty ounce soda waiting to slake their thirst?
some movie where shit gets blown up
for ninety minutes?
no, no, i guess we’re stuck together
and you
everyone else
and hundreds of years of art
still getting the shaft from
the bored hoi polloi

Monday, August 3, 2009

poem of the day 08.03.09

with love

i have a jackleg soul
with most, baby,
but not you
you never have to worry
about that
because my aim is true
so don’t pay it any mind
when i come in
off the shitter
and wave my hands
at you and simply go to bed
without a word
and if the rain falls down
and soaks your pizza
then, hell, we’ll just buy
another one
and those stories you tell
yes, i want you to get
to the point quicker
but that’s only
because i have so much
to say to you
and time is always running
against us
oh, honey, you’re a well
and i want to drink you dry
but sometimes
i do and say the wrong thing
i listen to music
more than your voice
so whatever comes next
a belch, a fart
a wine glass shattered against
our lunatic white walls
or me turning over a table
in a fit of drunken madness
just remember, my sweet,
con amore
it’s nothing you did
it’s just my rotten soul hurling
because with you it’s always
con amore

Saturday, August 1, 2009

poem of the day 08.01.09


she shifted on the train about two stops
away from where i was getting off
this woman in a tank top with a tan
her jet black hair pulled back
with sunglasses taking up the rest of her face
she shifted and her denim mini rose
and i almost saw them
her panties
so i put down my book and made like
i was looking out the window into the darkness
of the tunnel
but i kept stealing glances as if i were some
low-grade pervert
but i didn’t care
because one shift was all it took
and really there was no excuse for it
because i see dozens of panties per day
on dozens of women who can’t seem to dress
themselves correctly.
my wife has a drawer full of panties
but i needed to see her panties
although i couldn’t explain why
base curiosity?
stereotypical male necessity?
i wondered if they were red or blue
or white or sea green, stripped, had designs on them,
french-cut, high-cut, thongs, granny style
i thought about her panties more
than i’d ever put my mind to lowry or proust
then she shifted again
almost, almost, but no luck
i think she was wise to me
a thirty-five year old man covered in sweat
and gray hair
wearing the same clothing for three days
pretending to read a book on a new york train
she knew it and i knew it
and i knew i’d never see those panties
not in this lifetime
pink ones, ones with little hearts along the front
i’ll bet she changes her panties every day too
one leg at a time, just like the rest of them
but how in the hell would i ever know that?