– Ryan Black –
the early shadows whish an acclamation
born of steel threading steel for the Jamaica local,
its brake and stutter our only music. That,
and Olga Tañon, bootlegged, Live from Mexico City.
Or The Rolling Stones looped for three weeks in August
from the tenement’s fourth floor,
from Bobby’s apartment—Some Girls. Bobby, who even
in winter went about sleeveless displaying tracked arms
and once asked my first girlfriend
if he could taste her pussy, then threw all his furniture
out of the window. For years, he’d stop me at the turnstiles
and put his hand to my chest, his voice stunned
into pleasure. It’s so good, he’d say, don’t even try it once,
and to anyone who’d listen, Please, he’d say,
anyone at all, not once.
I want to believe that when Keats
began his famous ballad—his back to the low-burnt fire,
a heel slightly raised—when he wrote of the pale knight
and withered sedge, La belle dame sans merci
hath thee in thrall, it wasn’t Spenser he considered. Can I say
Duessa was hardly on his mind, call Florimel an afterthought,
or even his brother, Tom, buried at nineteen, that death
loitering through November? That it wasn’t Fanny
who took the kisses four, or Poesy, but something closer
to our need to lose everything,
to try it once, then again and again until what? Bobby,
who would descend to the avenue and nothing else
see all day long as the steel frames of the overhead
dispersed midday light leaving streaks of blonde
across his curved back. Say what you will for industry,
it still delights.
If I could name it once, you’d understand.