This morning, the lovers—
who last night were slurring and stumbling
and when I looked out, each gripping
the other’s taut throat in a clench of callous
and nail—sit on their front steps. The woman
smokes an idle cigarette. The man lounges
two steps down from her and leans his head
into her lap. Beer cans and husks of blue crab
from their cookout scuttle by in languid breeze.
The woman flicks the stub of her cigarette
into the street and kisses her man on his forehead.
In the kitchen behind me, Naomi
turns on the coffee grinder. I look back at her
but don’t bother to complain about the racket
this time. I’m more interested in the lovers.
Or, I was—they’re boring me now.
I liked them better when the radio was pumping
from their open window, and they were clawing out,
under the streetlight, the terms of their love.


Copyright © 2016 by Iain Haley Pollock. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“In the street, on the television, in the (social) media, I sometimes catch myself gawking at the bad behavior of others. This outward gaze bothers me: I find that it prevents introspection and obscures my view of my own behavior, relationships, biases, etc.  Also, this gaze creates distance between me and my subject(s), making me blind to our shared humanity.”
—Iain Haley Pollock