In love poems we talk about eye color.
Your eyes are the color of
The virginity that Brooke Shields just lost
And the luxury Oldsmobile she’ll
Give birth to nine months hence.
In benedictions we ask the firmament
For mercy and riches.
For you are large and bearded like
The godhead in sanctuary etchings.
Yours is the Sunday hat of
Fat-armed Baptist aunts.
Its color, cocaine in a sunbeam.
Through oral tradition, you taught us
How to anger presidents with a lean.
People, prick up your ears
Only if you want to be deafened.
In sea chanteys we sing to forget
What’s been roasted into our muscles.
But do take heart and know that
The shore hovers ahead.
Or perhaps that is a discotheque.
Or the nearest precinct.
The weight of such uncertainties is why
You hum chamber music at the plate.
Gotthold Lessing wrote that
Wine and love are the only two things
That save a man from being a stone.
In you, though, there is an artery that has
Grown through your finger
And into your cigarette,
Which it now garrisons with
Blood cells that aren’t busy at the moment.
That is the elusive third thing
That keeps you from being just a man.
Your tongue escapes from
What we thought was your mouth
But turns out to be the
Stoop of a brownstone in Red Hook —
Back before it was gentrified, obviously.
In elegies we lament.
So we lament that the
Buildings of the boulevards
That housed the best nights ever
Had or never had are long shuttered,
Coins over the eyes of a dead Roman.
(This piece originally appeared at FanGraphs. It has since been revised and made even worse, probably.)