Mark Scott

"the best damned poet in the business"

Love poems

Single Bed

You preferred men older,

and one man to many,

but he was in Atlanta

and we were in Boulder.

You hung back at first,

like the figure

in the black cameo

you liked to wear.

Then all was fair:

every feature forward,

every surface glad

on the single bed,

the only kind

my mom let me have.

 

The Heart

Why do you always have to start crying just after I start?

You always have to ruin it for me.

Why can’t you bear it without taking part

when the grief is not your grief

and the heart is not your heart?

 

Shoulders

Dancing alone in the middle of a motion,

I catch myself smooth the boxer in me down and do you.

I’m at a bar, in a tight corner by the door,

when your shoulders take mine over,

when your head tugs mine right,

always right at first, then down

with a single pulse and forward

until I’m leaning with your weight,

dancing as though you were,

but a boxer still when your shoulders take mine over.

 

Pieces of Clothing

 

Headband

Limp on the shelf, exotic of its head,

dyed dandy chintz and printz,

this diadem of gold and black

keeps nothing but my long hair

when it’s dirty back.

Spun in a cane’s trick knob

by Byzantine worms, it was given me

with hits of speed in its folds.

I was eighteen.

 

Beret

Fetching, if justly cocked,

the woolen discus is not in danger,

since it has no bill,

of being worn by callow jocks.

Soldiers, workers, women

wear it black and blue.

And the writer used to,

red Renaissance Prince.

 

Collars

I can cock them too, as if they were berets,

fold them over, turn them up, button them down

and tie them with knots. Each makes me over

in the looker’s eye. Once, my neck stretched

toward the collar, which would’ve snapped it like a host.

 

The Dresser

Rise up, put off your hat, make a leg.

Suffer coat-skirts to hang so low

they hide the thighs. Here, let me touch

your knees’ soft backs until you bend

and the coat slide off. You could go

handsomer than hitherto you have.

Let the good ribband loose, let loose the scarf.

That leotard, does it go all the way?

Let one sheath discover another.

There. It brings out the calf of you,

the lope, the curve, the better half of you.

Peel it off a minute and let me see you

sway on the balls of your feet.

 

Boots

Middle of the day, middle of the room,

middle of the earth, and Jean, in boots

that hugged her calves and reached her knees,

that turned upon her toes as smooth as

just that thick of leather lined with an inch of lamb.

She asked to be taken with a pair of hands.

She looked at papers on her desk,

then laughed and turned, nicknaming me,

and bent to where my hands were on her uppers.

We didn’t bowl each other over,

but did it standing, strumming, dranging.

And every stitch was made of lips,

and our sweaters really breathed.

 

In Love

All over the country I’m in love, but not here

where I’m alone,

listening to Joni Mitchell

look the coyote right in the face.

My partner’s in New Orleans;

I may be in Boston a year from now,

if I get the offer I know I won’t refuse.

Jennifer’s there. We were lovers in Boulder,

London, and Nairn, where I played golf

at Macbeth’s castle and she taunted

an Angus with a Roman shopping bag.

Kathy’s in Provincetown, thinking of Paris.

I see her here, as she was twenty years ago,

and hope to see her soon, as she will be.

Heidi’s in Wisconsin. I found her by phone

after ten years of drift, our positions only

in memory intact, if at all. Ripeness isn’t all.

Liz is in Wyoming, vetting dogs and cats.

She hopes to share her bed with a big man

(in Oakland, Sharon called me “a big man”).

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