The Picture on the Cover
of My First Book of Poems
I want the picture on the cover
of my first book of poems
to show me
and one other person,
one of us holding the camera
and the other one behind him
and to one side, sitting
on the rail of a low fence
around the stairs to the basement
of a brick housing project
wearing no shirts
with tanned chests
and one of us
with bleached blond hair
in bubble curls
on top of his head
cut closer on the sides
on the fence rail with two hands
one of which you kind of
see his knuckles close in
to his thigh
and his heels hooked
on the lower rail, with a big smile,
both of them with big smiles,
and the other one, holding the camera,
a little less handsome, but cute too,
in a simpler way,
with shiny apple cheeks
and the shorter, darker hair
lying flat on the top of his head,
and the sun is in both their eyes
and one of them will be me.
My Mother’s Lovers
Walt liked to drink Scotch
and make broad generalizations
with his arm slung over the back
of the couch and his legs crossed.
I hated him in boxers in the hall
coming out of her bedroom,
but I still recall that slung-back arm
when I order Scotch in bars.
Gary Stokes fawned over her.
On our way to the market to pick up
her pineapple cottage cheese,
he told me he’d never had it so good.
At a party, I saw him come up behind her
to touch the sleeve of her black knit dress
with his fingertip, which calmed me.
Mom and Melvin, my daughter and I,
had dinner out, and Melvin ordered
a whole lobster and several glasses of wine.
Super slowly, he sucked the claws,
broke open the tail, plied the mini-fork,
wiped his buttery hands, sipped the wine,
and laughed when we teased him
for eating so slowly.
In her eighties, she dated Vikas,
from Jamaica, Queens, who’d passed
his newsstand to his sons. Once,
when I was there, she massaged his feet,
popped his toes and applied the cream,
then put on his socks as he watched TV.