Distant Lady

Lady! Lady!

lady lady

put your parcels down;

forget the bus!

slip away with me;

live by my side

naked & nameless

for a day or two

your husband & the kids

may miss you a little

but will have to forgive

when they see the smile

reborn on your face

<>

you see me walking toward you,

the sidewalk is crowded,

a cloud hides the sun;

we can’t go on meeting this way,

I cannot bear missing this chance

every time our eyes meet

a moment long enough

for yours to scream

“yes! yes! OH YES!

take me! ravish me!

fair stranger so reckless

take me for a day or two

the shopping can wait;

my husband and the kids

can eat pizza, delivered,

just the way they like it;

they’ll be overjoyed at the chance;

despite the worry

they’ll forgive me

they always do”

<>

here comes your bus,

there’s still time;

it starts to rain;

throw your parcels away,

one is bursting already

crushed to your breast

the broken loaf of bread

slices falling at your feet;

I walk on one white crust

smiling directly at you;

you shrug, the weight of motion,

what can one do?

follow me! follow me!

I’ll take you for awhile

only a few naked seconds

your old cloth coat

crumpled on the floor

so its age won’t show

I’ll love your cologne

I’ll love you

<>

the doors kiss open

you hesitate

but get on

falling back a little

losing your balance

losing your grip on your routines;

I hand one back,

soft under crumpling paper;

a new sweater perhaps?

a blouse you’ve longed for

but never could afford?

(I’ll buy you thousands)

the husband & the kids

may miss the money

but when they see

how pretty you are in silk

they’ll forgive

<>

the bus pulls away,

my hands in overcoat pockets

stranded on the corner

waiting for the days to change;

I watch the grey shape pull away

I watch you fumble in your purse

as you fall into a seat

you look back

into the rain;

a smile flickers as I wave,

I’ll never forgive you

Fb 75

This piece has been one of the more enduring in the chap book – the one people still remember – the one that new readers will say – I really enjoyed the one about the bus. Several year ago an actress friend of mine included in her one woman poetry performance along with pieces by TS Eliot, James Joyce (yes yes yes). 

It is one of the story-telling pieces & became a poetry narrative structure I use frequently. You can read this piece & understand what is happening. It is almost like a film story board but with more subtext as text – a voice-over narration. It demonstrates one of the things poetry can do – with it one can select fragments to tell the story without having to fill in connecting details. 

One can use phrases like ‘the doors kiss open’ that gives a clear sonic sensation but also adds the sexual hint of ‘kiss’ – legs, like doors, can open to let in a kiss. As I recall it was piece that wrote itself. Edits were to add certain details ‘clutched’ became ‘crushed’ so that ‘crush’ would be echoed by crust.

The unspoken offer, mute opportunity, is the real story. The narrator is caught up in this fantasy, reading what he wants to see into every move of the lady. Does he even really make eye contact? How much of this actually happens: the bread, the falling back a little. Who hasn’t indulged in a sex fantasy on public transit while looking at a stranger, often looking away if the stranger looks back. Longing for contact it is easier to look away than acknowledge it.

Waiting for the days to change is a long wait. We have to forgive ourselves for opportunities not taken, for busses missed.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

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