The Lion’s Mouth
I walk into a stanza.
There’s decent gin here;
the men are critically tanned
in winter. The gin kicks in;
our eyes get all misty from an indrawn
loss, eyes bright and dead as stars
on someone’s Walk of Fame.
I walk in. I walk.
I raise my highball, to no one.
Which is to say, to you.
My bowtie misses your bowtie.
My cords miss yours. Who says
that love isn’ t sartorial?
Every pull of an argyle, every loop
reminds me, a little bit, of you.
This is embarrassing; this is also true.
Night comes, its one-sidedness.
I think I’ ll call in sick.
I think I’ ll go to I don’ t know,
to Venice, to feel something.
It’ s good for that.
I go to Venice. No, not that one.
I go all the way to Venice.
I get the Ezra Pound haircut,
have a leering coffee break.
Mostly I go for the goodbye, the first,
cheerless stretch on the Eurostar,
because leaving it,
I tell myself, is more freighted
than leaving you. Just look. I left you
six years ago and still can’ t believe.
Goodbye Venice; goodbye dogfight
and glut. I left you. I left so many
anonymous denunciations in the lion’ s mouth.
Mann is the author of Complaint in the Garden (2004), which won the Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry, and Breakfast with Thom Gunn (2009).