I rolled over and tried to kiss
Black hair at the edge
Of her right nipple, which my tongue
So fascinating, but she pushed me away, jumped up
To get dressed.
“Please,” she said, “Please stop. Maybe
Another time—I don’t know.
This is yours, isn’t it? Put it on.”
She had lit
A cigarette and was pacing, arms
And forth across
Her little kitchen—which was even smaller than mine—
When I, tucking in
My shirt, found her again.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “But before I go—
Well, I have
One more question.”
“Oh god,” she said. “Mr. Serious.”
“Do you have
A brother named Gussie?” I said.
Of a question
Is that?” She said. “I thought
You had a crush on me, and now you’re
For some guy....”
Is Gussie Mandrigo. He goes
To gay bars.
Do you know him?”
“Oh shit,” she said, smoke spilling
From her mouth.
“No I don’t know Gussie. You’ve gotta
It was just as well that work that night
To be busy—the store did over
In real business, which meant, if it
Kept up, that Omni Video
Survive some day on its own—without
The Porno Club. The manager
Would have to work his butt off, though, no more wild
Afternoons, no book
On Toshiro Mifune—just sixty, seventy
Hours a week in the store. Could I transform
Into that kind of businessman?
I locked up the store at ten-fifteen
And was asleep
By eleven, when my phone rang. It was my smart
Young girlfriend, calling
From the Pacific
“Happy birthday,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I said,
Afraid, in my sleepiness, that somehow
“Wow,” she said, “Are you in total
“But it’s not
Birthday,” I said. “It can’t
Be my.… Oh.”
“I don’t believe this,” she said. “What is it there?”
“Eleven,” I said.
“It’s been your birthday all day long
And you didn’t
“I guess I....
I forgot,” I said. “I’ve had
A strange week.”
“Well, you’re officially ancient,” she said.
“I suppose... I am,” I said, remembering
This was, and I tried to think
Funnier to say. You see, we’d always joked around
About the age
Discrepancy, but it was usually
Much, much sexier
“Tomas insisted that I call,” she said.
“Oh,” I said. “Tomas.”
“Look, you don’t
Have to worry
About him, he’s happily married.”
“I thought he was practically, totally....”
“Gay?” she said, “Well that’s
The difference between a correlation
And a fact.”
“What?” I said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, “That’s
An in-joke. From our mathematical
For a moment neither of us
Spoke, and I felt, in the uncomfortable
Silence, her new world
Closing around her, like the tide rushing in, cutting off
Those two islands
In Mon Oncle D’Amerique.
“So…. what does it feel like
Old?” she said.
“Not bad,” I said. “I’m not
“Yes you are,” she said, and we went on like that
In friendly fashion
For a while, no real cleverness
To our teasing, and I think
I knew, as I set
The phone, that she and I would never
Sleep together again.