Let Us Imagine Our White Russian

— Jerry Dyer

so cold that first day in New York,
his breath gessoed the air
and froze silver on his eyebrows.
That was practically all the coin
he had, his only assets being
bright brushes, a filbert or two,
fans and flats, and the palette
forever moistening his mind.

Alphabet City took over
for Nevsky Prospect, but he remains
a part-time bohemian,
the commissar of knaves, a little wig,
a lack of all trades. Capitalism,
he claims, came into the world
humming English; it is
for him an acquiring tongue.
He even whistles with an accent.

He likes to say that men carry the future
buttoned up in their pants.
Got married, once, but then discovered
that they had only become a part
of one another’s loneliness.
Now, he swears by all the ponytails
in China, though at his age, it’s true,
husbandry is only in heaven;
his candle no longer carries flame.

At the pub, he drinks vodka, cream,
kahlua, and regales us with tales
of his romantic conquests, mixed
with descriptions of the Hermitage,
its works of art. The connection,
if anyone asks, lies in the weakness
of our eyes, which can hold
at the pinnacle of sharpness
just a cheek, or lips, or the nape
of a neck, but never the whole face,
so the vision of our lovers becomes,
necessarily, a composite sketch.

Everything beautiful comes to us,
he swears, in rapid shifts of focus,
through sequence, in a syntax
learnt somehow by our eyes.
Our heart is buoyed above a different anchor
every moment. Just long enough,
he believes, for the paint to be applied.

One thought on “Let Us Imagine Our White Russian

  1. Another fabulous poem, Jerry! I love the masterful story-telling, how succinct descriptions are able to reveal so much about this character’s life. And then there are these little genius and gem-like quotables: "men carry the future buttoned up in their pants," "husbandry is only in heaven," "Our heart is buoyed above a different anchorevery moment," etc. This is narrative poetry at its best, telling a story like a composite sketch–like a lover’s face.

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