13 December 2008

A Poem.

It's been a while since I put up any poetry, and I thought with AWP looming closer and closer, I'd shake off a few older pieces.  I wrote this, actually, at AWP in Atlanta, almost two years ago.  My friend Adam laughed at it, because it was a "hot" poem.  I frowned, and sent it out.

It was accepted for publication at the first place I sent it, and almost in the same form it in which it was originally written.

I had just attended a Saturday workshop given by Ilya Kaminsky in Pittsburgh, at Gist Street.  I was surprised by how handsome he was, on top of how talented and articulate.  I wrote this a few days later.  He really did miss a belt loop on the morning of the workshop.

Learning Russian

He missed a belt loop
that morning, drank instant coffee
in a Pittsburgh hotel,
hurried to dress.

His shirt untucked,
underneath a pilled crewneck sweater,
Shetland wool. Finger in ear,
he adjusted his own volume. I wondered,
Why would he own a wool sweater
if he lives in Northern California?

or, maybe that was why it was pilled,
pulled from the back of a closet
part of his East Coast equipment
with suitcase, garment bag, umbrella.

He could be the poet who ended my marriage;
hair hung in his Eastern block face.
Younger than me, more famous
with one slim book
than I could be with four.

I could be his American scandal.
His glasses fogged as I stepped out
of the shower, wet handprints
on tattersall stomach, pressed
a warm imprint on his back,
his rumpled khakis softened, steamed.

He read me a poem he wanted
to teach later that morning,
his voice a Transylvanian whisper.
I smelled powdered milk
on his close mouth,
his words,
my humid neck.

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