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The Last of the Gentlemen Heartbreakers

Southern romantic that you always

were, what fallacy recalls you better

than the pathetic one?

If lightning fried a single swampy

pine anywhere south of Cincinnati,

you were gassing up the bagpipe and

drinking to your fallen comrade

before it hit the ground.

You had the knack I admire for self-

satisfaction, a gift for the dubious

backward—your cask of port in every

port and a woman in every storm.

Oh, True Love and Subject of My Late

Juvenilia, there wasn’t a ribald

particular I didn’t come to know:

the yoga instructress on Valentine’s Eve,

the xeroxed erotica files

arranged by body part. Did you think

you were the only mastermind with

a stoned cat purring on your lap, a loyal

death squad on retainer? Count it

a child’s Christmas miracle that I let

you live. Sources report you’re still

irresistible, a waltz-step elegy

with a showy limp, the same

theme-park pirate in a soiled black

patch, but why insist on covering

your good eye?

You know I don’t mean this,

as some girls say, in the bad way.

To be fair, you were generous with

a camellia and were born knowing

when to offer a lady your handkerchief.

from Black BoxFind it in the library

Copyright © 2006 Erin Belieu
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Erin Belieu Poems

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