A Place with Gold Tablecloths and Blue Curtains
Two Rice coeds agree there's a bond
between Eros and Thanatos. They're dark-haired,
full-lipped, with only a little belly pudge,
loud... as if I'm required to eavesdrop.
The older one has cruel circles under her eyes,
a marble nature, says she's sorry,
but her boyfriend's hairy back trips up her desire.
Storm clouds bounce off the windows as I reread
Goyen's House of Breath, east Texas nostalgia
written from Rome, then Lawrence's Taos,
sacrifice rearranged as good fortune gone bad.
The younger girl, proud to be fickle and near-blonde,
spoons at blackberry yogurt, says,
Whenever someone criticizes me for smoking,
I tell 'em I don't watchTV
and at least I don't eat meat.
The girls offer surplus smiles on their way out
to a yellow prom-cake-echoes Toyota.
The Houston Chronicle advice column
says Jesus is glum today,
that life ought to be more than hollow lovers
at the end of a smoke and lightning-hearted run.
It's Goyen's old question: can we be brave enough
to accept the fever blessings of who we are?
* This poem is included in Red Shuttleworth's 2010 poetry chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).