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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

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.