A Favored Shape
The peach shapes a fan's exotic beak.
That hooks the mouth.
It's the dorsum in a fish
(humped up like a ginger cat
or a young girl rising from an early nap)
that hooks the spine—
a curve on a medium blue Bic pen's cap,
and in the nose of my strange friend Peter,
like the tiny fish that join
the halves of a peanut together.
But the plum has a seam
where the peach has a fold
and the grape has neither.
You preferred men older,
and one man to many,
but he was in Atlanta
and we were in Boulder.
You hung back at first,
like the figures
in the black cameos
you liked to wear.
Then all was fair:
every feature forward,
every surface glad
on the single bed,
the only kind
my mom let me use.
You Dance like a Boxer
Dancing alone in the middle of a motion
you know sometimes I will, catching myself,
smooth the boxer in me down and do you.
I'm in the one tight corner by the door
when your shoulders take mine over,
when your head tugs mine right,
always right at first, then down
with a single pulse and forward
until I'm leaning with your weight,
dancing as though you were,
but a boxer still when your shoulders take mine over.
The Leisure of the Theory Class
There went Professor Veblen,
the last man who knew everything—
the high gloss on a patent-leather shoe,
the same high gloss on a thread-bare sleeve,
He did his dishes with the hose.
He gave everything a C.
He went to his wife's house in the woods
with a black stocking in his hand.
When she answered the door, he said,
"Does this garment belong to you, Madam?"
for Franco Ferrarotti
To Finish the List
Where the birds sing without trees
to sing in, and jackhammers, pneumatic
mandibles, take up the slack, sinking in,
a rhythm section is forming. I pick up
without ease what they're putting down.
Asphalt and oil slicks have their poisonous
conversation; evergreens of annoying
tender-mindedness let every twosome
play through. Can I speak highly enough?
A squirrel lathes the skin off a tough nut.
My mother is always on the run, her eye
on her list. We have a funny romance
going on fifty years. To suffer in quiet,
never to complain, to finish the list at last
is the apex of manners.
How gingerly we must in our way
be absolute, yet never come to say
the thing we came to say.
Mark Scott is the author of two books of poetry, Tactile Values (New Issues, 2000) and A Bedroom Occupation: Love Elegies (Lumen Books, 2007). He has just completed a collection of prose, The Epigram Microphone. He lives in Omaha and teaches at College of Saint Mary.