Elegy for My Mother's Ex-Boyfriend

Let it be said
that Tim's year was divided
into two seasons: sneakers
and flip-flops. Let us
remember that Tim
would sometimes throw a football
with all the requisite grip, angle
and spiral-talk. Let us recall
that for the sake of what was left
of appearances, my mother
never once let him sleep
in her bed; he snored all over
our dog-chewed couch, and in
the mornings when I tip-toed
past him on my way
to school, his jowls
fat as a catcher's mitt, I never cracked
an empty bottle across that space
where his front teeth
rotted out. Nor did I touch
a struck match to that mole
by his lip, whiskery dot that—he 
believed—made him irresistable
to all lovelorn women.
Still, let us remember
sweetness: Tim lying face down,
Mom popping the zits
that dotted his broad, sun-spotted back,
which, though obviously
gross, gets the January photo
in my personal wall calendar
of what love should be,
if such a calendar
could still exist above my kitchen table
junked up with the heretos and
therefores from my
last divorce.
              Let us not forget
how my mother would slip
into her red cocktail dress
and Tim would say,
"Your mother is beautiful,"
before getting up
to go dance with someone else.
              In fairness, let me
confess that I pedaled
my ten-speed
across the Leaf River bridge
all the way to Tim's
other woman's house
and lay with that woman's daughter
beside the moon-
cold weight
of the propane tank, dumb
with liquor, numb to
the fire ants that we spread
our blanket over until
I stopped for a second
and looked up
because I wondered if
her mother could hear us,
or if Tim might not
have stood in the kitchen,
maybe looked out
the window and saw
my white ass pumping
in the moonlight,
and whispered
to himself, "That's my boy."

More by James Kimbrell

My Psychic

has a giant hand
          diagrammed in front of her place
on West Tennessee.
          It towers above a kudzu hill as if
     to offer a cosmic How!
               as in Hello! from a long
way off, as in how

she already knows
          the sundry screwed up ways a day
can go days before
          I park my wreck on the hill again beside
     her white Mercedes. O
               little slice of Lebanon!
O cedar scented

cards fanned like feathers
          of a Byzantine peacock! Tell
me again how I
          might have been a fine lawyer, that I’ll raise
     four kids in Tallahassee, how
               I married—it’s true—on
my lunch break—Yez

she took you to lunch
          okay a zeven year lunch ha ha!

Incense. Mini-shrine.
          A wagon train of chihuahuas snoozing by
     her slippers. You have anxious
               about a furniture
… I do. But
lately I’ve grown cold,

unconsoled by her
          extrasensory view. I think
—no need to speak—across
          the black tabletop, I don’t want to know
     if I’ll find a bright city,
               a room by the river, a love
I will recognize

by her dragonfly
          tattoo. O narrative of ether!
O non-refundable
          life facts! say that what happens may not matter,
     or that it matters as any
               story does when two fresh lovers
embrace the old pact

(her bra on the chair,
          his socks in the kitchen) that says
their love is level,
          unfabled, new. Level with me, tell me why
     the dogs on the floor, little
               moon fed hounds of Delphi, seem
so over it, so

done with the fleas of
          destiny. Maybe that’s the right
attitude, no need
          to ask why I’m here on a perfectly blue
     Friday, content with
               what the thin air, what the dust
motes in the light say

near the high window. I
          should’ve learned that music long ago—
O soundless number!
          O jukebox of being that the dogs dream to! No
     faux crystal ball, no tea leaves
               or terrace in the nether
reaches of my palm

will make her answers
          less like hocus pocus in a purchased dark.
It’s time to pay, to drive away
          from telepathic altitudes, to say adieu
     to why love ends. How
               How a heart opens again. Why
anything is true.