The happiest moment in a woman's life Is when she hears the turn of her lover's key In the lock, and pretends to be asleep When he enters the room, trying to be Quiet but clumsy, bumping into things, And she can smell the liquor on his breath But forgives him because she has him back And doesn't have to sleep alone. The happiest moment in a man's life Is when he climbs out of bed With a woman, after an hour's sleep, After making love, and pulls on His trousers, and walks outside, And pees in the bushes, and sees The high August sky full of stars And gets in his car and drives home.
From Valentine Place, published by Scribner. Copyright © 1996 by David Lehman. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.
When she says margarita she means daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, "I'll never speak to you again,"
she means, "Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window."
He's supposed to know that.
When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.
When a woman loves a man it is one ten in the morning
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.
When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, "We're talking about me now,"
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
"Did somebody die?"
When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water rushing over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.
Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?
When he says, "Ours is a transitional era,"
"that's very original of you," she replies,
dry as the martini he is sipping.
They fight all the time
What do I owe you?
Let's start with an apology
Ok, I'm sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying "Laughter."
It's a silent picture.
"I've been fucked without a kiss," she says,
"and you can quote me on that,"
which sounds great in an English accent.
One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it another nine times.
When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he's there. He doesn't complain that she's two hours late
and there's nothing in the refrigerator.
When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She's like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn't want the day to end.
When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.
From Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Copyright © 1996 by David Lehman. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.
For six months I dealt Baccarat in a casino. For six months I played Brahms in a mall. For six months I arranged museum dioramas; my hands were too small for the Paleolithic and when they reassigned me to lichens, I quit. I type ninety-one words per minute, all of them Help. Yes, I speak Dewey Decimal. I speak Russian, Latin, a smattering of Tlingit. I can balance seven dinner plates on my arm. All I want to do is sit on a veranda while a hard rain falls around me. I’ll file your 1099s. I’ll make love to strangers of your choice. I’ll do whatever you want, as long as I can do it on that veranda. If it calls you, it’s your calling, right? Once I asked a broker what he loved about his job, and he said Making a killing. Once I asked a serial killer what made him get up in the morning, and he said The people.
From I Was the Jukebox: Poems. Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Beasely. Used with permission of W. W. Norton & Company.