Your phrase, its convincing finality,
fires my weltering heart
across the room. Till then I wanted you
by the bucketload. Shoring-up I reel
through rounds of Claire's cumquat liqueur
while snide messages sidle down the redundant
path – for I am muggins, deaf to sound, daft
to sense – for I am hard at work shovelling
coals, abaft the audience. There's private
health plans for my chiropractor, for my nervous
tic, but nothing for this, as the whole
proscenium crashes about these listing schemes.
Jeez the gin-soaked cumquats knock
me out. For you are beautiful, really. I hope you
have a stroke. Your sculptured fandango
sliding from its cheekbones. Not right now
though – I press on, making regrets:
new stanchions, new duct, new stuffed
toys, new soft porn – the whole unwanted
container-load nuzzling at your dock.
Baffling, this unravelling – your manners,
First published in Jacket #6, 1999. Republished here with minor changes to the 6th and 11th lines.