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Two Poems
Jeffrey Lee


invitation to a disaster

Skin-hungry for your hands
she comes up to your bedroom as a fan
of your poetry, but you’re Nobody, you say.
It doesn’t matter, she says.
She’s not the woman you love and can’t have,
she’s the baby you can have and want
in eccentric old clothes
and she keeps you up late cuddling her blues
which is fine except she takes off everything
(complaining It’s so hot!)
except her worn-out panties
and it’s late but she doesn’t want to
so you sleep on the floor
on something rock-hard
in your clothes
and she wails her loneliness
and jealousy of your past
But we just met (!) you say.
It doesn’t matter, she cries.
How can she be mad as a wife
on a first date? you think
but it’s too late and sleep
overwhelms you and recedes
only near dawn when she stumbles by casually
half-waking and mostly naked
and you reach up hungry
for her skin and tug her in
your long dark sleeping bag
and roll with her in your lust
and she steams up like dunked toast
that is, till she crumbles into dripping sobs
and then you have to stop,
soothe and hold her together
tenderly as the non-drunk dad she never had.
It begins to dawn on you then
that she really wants something else.

invitation to a disaster first appeared in
Many Mountains Moving (2002)

* * *

color schemes

Undressed, she likes to see your skin and hers clash
hugging from cheek to feet
in the full-length mirror.
It tickles her to put her very blond hair
against your very olive face
though to you it just seems
out of place.
Then one day her old photo album reveals
          another Asian – before you.
          Her fascination has a history?
You can’t ask, What does it mean?
Meanwhile for weeks her mother weeps
over the phone threatening more suicide
(sadly, ‘every thing that doesn’t kill her only makes her stronger’)
since "Princess" is "miscegenating!"
and Dad (the half-drunk Dane) calls your union
a "genetic nightmare" (but adds "huh huh, just kidding"),
surmises you’re a sociopath to your face and (worse yet)
suggests subliminally into her porous ears
that you’re a "dangerous genius fraud"
even though he’s a psychologist!
And yet – and still – somehow
she likes the way your flesh will clash
(she is forever comparing)
and no matter how much you say
It doesn’t matter
she is never whole with you and yours
because a sliver of her
is a trophy – a white fire –
stolen from the race of the gods.


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