Friday, June 10, 2011

WHY YOU NEVER ORDER A HURRICANE FROM A WAITRESS IN THE POKER ROOM

What stings the most about
the rain that falls tonight
isn't the angle it strikes
the eye
or how bitterly it burns,
but how it
soaks a sodden reality
down the back
and through the clothes,
how it washes the dust
off the shoes to reveal
the hard truth shining beneath.

You know how to be dogged
as well as you know
how to shadow your eyes,
know how to be cheated on
as well as you know how to serve
a cold Corona or hot coffee,
you know how to be stood up
as well as you know how to coordinate
a stunning outfit,
you know how to be lied to
as well as you know how to
angle a bun atop your head.
But just as you don't know how
to walk out onto Arctic Ave. and
determine which lane
points to Miami
and which to New York City,
you haven't learned
so simple a thing
as how to be loved by a man.

Perhaps that class was never scheduled
in Atlantic City elementary schools.
And who knows how many battles
a heart must bear before
it clenches into a fist
and begins to respect
only bare knuckles.
I cannot claim to know,
and so I wear no black robe,
carry no gavel,
call no courtroom to order.

This however,
makes the rain
no less raw.
I understand how some come
to take the tenderness of a man's hands
the same way they interpret a tear
in the bottom of a paper bag,
to hear the softness of his hello
the same as a leak in the roof,
see any sensitivity as a sign
he can't be dominant.
But I had almost convinced myself
that you were too wise to be
numbered among them.

Any fool knows that Yen
don't spend in Paraguay,
that Yuan are worthless
in Wichita,
and thus I accept
that whatever currency
of kindness I wave
might be counterfeit
in the hardware store
of your heart.
But it's no less devastating
a downpour that streaks the cheeks
of the streets tonight.
I had hoped to purchase
some hurricane matches,
to kindle a small flame
in a fireplace,
but this storm has dampened
all the cordwood.

The question is if
you wish
to learn to unstack it,
to set it out in tomorrow's sun,
to rotate it until all sides
are dry as an eye
which has never learned
to cry.
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