Monday, June 24, 2013

Five From an Old Chapbook

I wrote these ages ago as part of a four part chapbook series. At the time, I was working with an artist who was going to create a cover and add a few illustrations for some of the pieces. The collection would have told a love story, told in poetry and prose, going from falling in lust to building a loving relationship that would eventually fall apart.  Unfortunately, my artist never followed through and the project itself ended up falling apart. I finished the first book and the other three were in the early stages of being written but I never really got around to even revising the first one.  Life happened and without an artist, it all felt dead in the water.  So here are the first five pieces.

Profile silhouetted,
I see you and nothing more.
You stir your drink three times
Counter clockwise
Then tap tap tap your straw
Before dropping it on the bar.
A herd of girls huddled around a table
Fending off any approach from guys
Who jockey like jackals for position
Hoping one will break away.
I watch you join the others
Who sip their neon pastel drinks.
You edge yourself apart,
Latent and lovely,
Drinking in gulps from a glass
Too soon empty.
You are removed.
I want to remove you,
Take you away to someplace where
I can discover, uncover more.
My mouth waters;
Even then I won’t approach you
Afraid to encroach
I remain watching
From a distance.
Missed Opportunity
     I wait outside the restroom. I check out the women that come and go, talking loudly, leaning and stumbling into one another, or slinking by, still sober enough to stride with seduction.
     I wait for you to emerge, easily ignoring the rest. You are my target. You are the one I want to know. I barely allow myself to blink, knowing how quickly such fantastic moments can slip by, forever lost in the crowd of the usual club distractions.
What is it that quickened in me, that uncoiled and rose when I first saw you? You are extraordinary and I know that when I draw closer I will become inordinately drawn into the orbit of your magnetism.
     When you come through the door, I see you fumble for a lighter, a cigarette already caressed between your lips. Your head bowed, the neon light turns your hair a soft blue as if you were veiled and bowed in prayer.
     Stepping forward, I offer to light your cigarette for you. You thank me, your surprisingly dark eyes reflecting the light of my flame, your fingertips brushing the back of my hand.
Your fingers are cool from just washing them. The flame from my lighter flaring heat across my face so close to your own. Your lips slick wet with fresh gloss. These details rise quick and with a flick I close my lighter.
     “That’s a nice lighter.”
     “Do you smoke?”
     I see the spark of curiosity. Intrigued, you want to know more but you are here with your friends. We say goodbye without exchanging names or numbers.

I look up, see the couple—dark, young, and
pretty—looking up at the menu.
They debate what to choose, listing
items—a coffee, a latte, or chai.
I envy the oh-so-easy way they
stand together, lean into each other.
I envy them because they have a choice
and, choosing, have chosen one another.
He is taller than she as she looks at
him in adoration, deferential,
letting him choose for the both of them
an arm close around her holding closer.
She hooks a finger through his belt loop, linked
and chained, they turn as they each take their cups.
They add sugar and cream and then blow
soft to cool the heat of their chosen drinks
before seeking a table, a corner,
a place in which to curl together.
Because I have no choice all I can do
is admire, desire and envy,
for a day when I can be as they.
One week and another
I return to the club to see
If maybe fate will take me
To where you are.
The vapid faces of
Paper doll predictable girls
Cannot distract me from
Recollecting the way
The shadow fell across
Your lowered eyes
As I lit your cigarette
And the memory of how cool
Your fingers felt touching me
With a tattoo deepness
That no flirtatious flutter
Of lashes can dull.  
Even a one night stand
Between the thighs of another
Leaves me wishing I had been
More bold in the dim and din
Of the club where you were
But where you aren’t tonight.

Your shadow falls across the page where I am writing in my notebook. I am baffled when I recognize. “I’m sorry,” you say stepping back.
“No please,” I say. “You’re the girl, from the club?” It’s rhetorical really but you nod. I smile and push the chair out with my foot, inviting you to sit with me. Our conversation builds slowly then builds momentum as questions come staccato quick. Where do you work? What do you do for a living? Where are you from? How long have you lived here? What is your favorite color?
The questions I don’t ask won’t wash away as I sip my coffee, taste bitter on my tongue. How did you find me? Why are you here? When will I see you again? Do you always smell like lilacs and cloves?
I let your questions predetermine mine and my eyes widen in wonder when you laugh at my jokes, pushing your hair from your face in an easy habit.
That is when I notice the ring on your left hand and a wall begins to separate me from you. Whatever hopes or expectations that rose from our coincidental meeting are stopped, the kind of reality check I am never expecting.
You catch my glance and shove your hand beneath the table as if to hide some embarrassing evidence, pleading the fifth to a question I haven’t spoken.
“Would you like another coffee?” I offer.
“I’ve had my limit.”
I want to know all your limits but settle for your name and number which you offer instead of staying for more coffee and conversation. You promise to call me sometime. I want to mark my calendar with something specific, a day and time when my phone will ring.

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