Here’s This Thing

Here’s this thing I keep remembering:
We’ve just crossed Washington Road walking
toward Nassau Hall, alongside the chapel,
and it’s very early in our affair and I still think,
and let’s face it I’m right, that you are a bit of a square.
You’ve wearing your conservative yet fashionable
soon-to-be-assistant-dean suit, and I’m wearing
my editor’s jacket and tie, and we’re in a hurry
having spent lunch hour devouring each other.
If only I could remember how the subject came up, what
small worry might have prompted the comment I made
that I can no longer remember, and if it was timid
or more likely my street bravado dirty, or, as you would
say, bawdy, yes, you might well say bawdy
to describe the comment that I can’t bring back, you in your
19th-century English Lit. advanced degree argot.
I know exactly where we were and I recall the squirrels
stopped their incessant incessing and the birds shut up too
and you, in your impeccably cadenced and musical speech,
offered, “Don’t get me wrong, I love it from behind,”
pleased, chirpy, as if you were telling a conference room
full of deans, “I think the Power Point is working now!”
and Jesus God, when they say fall in love, I thought it
was just an expression, but I tipped over and over
and fell like all the other forces had abandoned us
and the only one left was gravity.

Air’s free

In a warm, buzzing, half-rural, half-junkyard field, grassy and clumpy, crisscrossed by thin, stony paths spotted with candy wrappers and broken glass, with scorch marks from an aborted sociopathic little fire at one edge and the weedy hunched back of an abandoned supermarket at the other, we looked under the cover of a tangle of volunteer honeysuckle at a Playboy, the damp pages making sucking sounds as we turned them. Dazzled in the sunny field, serenaded by the thin, rebounding stringlike song of crickets, we crouched over the twin sisters who swoon for Fabian and fight for the telephone, one of them leaning forward playfully to kiss a full-length mirror (“It’s like kissing your sister,” says the caption). Our penises like shoots, hard, small, and insistent against our corduroys.
Crowded by the heat and the honeysuckle and the twins, Jimmy suddenly straightened, rolling up the magazine and holding it against his front. I grabbed for it and as he dodged me, I saw a dark, blossoming dampness near the top of his zipper. He turned away and said, “Why do Jews have big noses?” “Why?” “Air’s free.” Then he ran off through the stickyburrs and blue chicory and hot pile of broken bricks, leaving me hard as a rock, my big nose tingling, dazed and desolate in the bright light, the heavy heat, the long call of crickets.

When Your Wife’s Going Mad

I.

When your wife’s going mad,
no one knows what to say.
They ask how she is and then add,
“She looked good the other day.”

You don’t want to know how she is,
and their eyes say, You’re right,
don’t say it, please,
out of mind out of sight.

And what does that tell you?
That friends can feel sorry
but they won’t follow you to hell.
They’ll drop by purgatory,

a lost job, a dead parent
who probably hung on too long
anyway. Even a dead spouse, but
the demented spouse, well, as Larkin said,
She’s there all day. So?
So. No one knows what to say.

II.

When your wife’s going mad,
no one knows what to say.
Their eyes slip around
like they want to run away.

But they can’t, so they linger
for a moment and commiserate,
looking sicker and sicker
as if they glimpse some fate.

You absolve and release
them and then watch their backs
as they break out of the gate,
at the pistol’s crack.

III.

When your wife’s going mad,
you start counting her money.
And it’s not fucking funny.
And it’s not fucking bad.
It’s sadder than sad,
when your wife’s going mad
and you start counting her money.

IV.

When your wife’s going mad,
at first, for a while, you don’t
experience desire.

Depression’s depressing
and grief is tiring, besides,
you’re busy

and don’t feel much at all.
You almost forget what
symmetry is.

But after a while, you notice, say,
how ubiquitous décolleté
has become in your absence.

how women of all races
ride on their summer legs
in their summer dresses.

***

Alec Solomita is a writer and editor. He’s published fiction and poetry in Eclectica, The Mississippi Review, Southwest Review (shortlisted short story), The Adirondack Review, Ireland’s Southword Journal (also shortlisted), and many other publications. Most recently, a couple of his pieces have appeared in theNewerYork. He lives in Somerville, Mass.

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