There are, he begins, smoothly
turning and, his locks turning, turning
the lock at the door, three rules. No kissing.
Don’t touch me anywhere I don’t move
your hands myself. Keep your doubt in your pants.
His head ticks toward a maraschino eye
in the corner near the ceiling making known
our names are already beautifully inscribed
in a review copy shipped by glacier.
He begins by igniting one slow revolution
face rolling into benthic night, nothing fettering
some calendrical display but reappearing
luminous spun wine barely held by glass, uncoiling
of the room itself, himself in each
of the four walls’ full mirrors
and those mirrors’ rooms
and the mirrors of those rooms’ walls.
He is dangerously close to perpetuity
but he begins, after a start
to slink out of dispassion, my reckless question
about his true nature like a sparrow quivering
between his lips: Four rules.
What begins as beauty doesn’t fade
but crumbles leprously, the tip of a nose
used to being beautiful Pinocchioes
beyond recovery. Its roots let go.
Firm brown original replaces. Look again
at the paper doll chain, mid-spin, read
around the back of his crowns his faces’
quick ebb to their induction of lust.
When someone muddles the trick, you let it go
and he has, mercifully, let go my unknowing
what comes into this room, killed for what comes out.
He begins at insinuations, hard wax onto
flexing fingers or scales bricking eyes
a few bits of cloth
flicking between the floor and his skin
and then the weight of straddling thighs
our chins’ nocturnal ivies roping
his mane eclipsing blood
too spun with drink
to do a damned thing.
The world is full of women I have wanted to
without knowing what infinitives.
Ladybugs of hope in the cobweb
of assurances somewhere
they sabre champagne bottles, speak ribald fire
as if they could eat young, marry beautiful
warhorses to bedposts with ribbons.
Weavers weep into grim carpets. Poor market
but they knew he was unfairly beautiful.
Gulls screech a sermon
of remainders, molluscs rocketing
down from a melting blue ceiling till the jetty’s sweet
the quay sun-flared like Lighthouse of Alexandria
debris. Then we were back along the archipelago of bars
M and I, ferrying between stations of the piss-up
when I saw him in street clothes, he me
two unknown unknowns.
The gulls screeched burn burn
again, then again, but I only had to look away
once and there were no tears.
M and I kept walking after Cuba St.
It was dark and alive, only she was far too good.
Waves nothing, only the summed blue sidewalk is
enough to call the sea beautiful.
Andy Verboom edits the Word Hoard, a literature and humanities journal, and organizes Couplets, a collaborative poetry reading series. His poetry has recently appeared in Vallum, Arc Poetry Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, and BafterC. He is the author of Tower (Anstruther Press, 2016) and co-author (with David Huebert) of Full Mondegreens, winner of the 2016 Frog Hollow Press Chapbook Contest.