Fingers crumble around the leash of a dog
behind chainlink, sky burns through
the rainbow – no stop ‘til ash here just past
2nd Ave. it pools like fabric on the concrete,
and instead of the usual contest
of finger pads on metal
teeth lining the flowerboxes,
today hands wander through dirt-damp
roots, imagined cool of a petal-papered face
coupling with each hot inhale –
a ritualized rolling over under
covers toward an extinguishing glory –
Troy – famously inflammable, they say
the Trojans burned down their city,
they liked the smell of smoke.
Just as the Trojans smelled smoke
on their hands long after the sack
was forgotten, so my fingers are smoke-
soaked, and so are yours. Nothing happens
so quickly as flame: as you lit my cigarette
just now a man across the park disappeared,
his chess set left hovering
among dispassionate trees.
Nothing so slow as skin
to take in
the apple it owns.
We were at the Hudson down
by Prince St. in September,
the lamps staring down
on our curious smoke
paling into light like
letters hiding in words.
…and so Paris paled when he uttered
the word kallistēi, meaning “fairest,” …
…as if all the smoke that rose
rose as prayer from a censer, simple
stream from your lips, the body
of your breath, your embryonic thoughts…
…kallistēi as in “fairest of five whippets,”
or “fairest assessment of my unrefined
passion for the female mouth”…
Paris was reading an apple, which is, of
course, neither flammable nor ephemeral,
and so of no interest to us at this time.
Your red wine whistles
behind the white fence, we
considered eloping, (afternoon
train sounds shuffle down 10th St.
all the little cars and clouds) but decided
you’re too much like an apple
and I’m too much
like a cigarette.