The affairThe Margaritas were blue with paper roses.
Later I thought how they were the only salt of those nights.
His e mail letters like skin,
very taut. What he didn’t say drugged me.
Language was wild, intense.
I could feel him, his screen name a tongue.
Verbs taut, what he didn’t say a drug.
It was a dangerous tango.
I wanted his body glued to mine.
Distance kept the electricity vivid.
It was a dangerous tango.
How could I know his mother leaped into Niagara Falls.
I fell for his words, what he left out.
How could I know he was ice.
How could I know his mother leaped into the falls.
Even in the heat, he was icy.
His name was Snow. Our last night
we drove thru fog until 3.
He told me things he said he’d never told anyone.
My thigh burned where it touched him.
On our last night we drove thru Austin
mist talking. I was burning.
He photographed me, exhausted, at 3 AM. Everything he
told me was a scar. My hair curled in a way
I hated. After that night I wasn’t sure
I would be pretty again.
Everything he told me was a
scar. Under the ice the anger in him was lava.
I wanted him, always longing for men
with something missing.
The Margaritas were the only salt I’d taste.
The anger in him was lava under the ice.
I wanted more, my longing a scar.
When he didn’t write, I printed his old e mail.
When I no longer looked for it
his e mail was there, like a mugger.
The Margaritas were strong with black paper roses
TangoI didn’t know it was addictive,
dangerous as morphine,
mysterious, no, electric as
that touch from a stranger you
know could never not be
riveting as death. Anything
pastel couldn’t compete.
Save the waltz for the blue
eyed blondes, I want a tango I
might not survive, exotic
as Valentino in a tent
under a desert moon, that
circle a flaming plate.
This dance is a drug like thighs
scorching, a duel of bodies no one
can turn back from. The heroin
dance, musky as Araby or damp skin
where some woman waits
in darkness, the tent flaps
opening like labia
But instead has gone into woodsA girl goes into the woods
and for what reason
disappears behind branches
and is never heard from again.
We don’t really know why,
she could have gone shopping
or had lunch with her mother
but instead has gone into
woods, alone, without the lover,
and not for leaves or flowers.
It was a clear bright day
very much like today.
It was today. Now you might
imagine I’m that girl,
it seems there are reasons. But
first consider: I don’t live
very near those trees, and my
head is already wild with branches
All afternoon weread Lorca
by five snow
glass. February. I
those chill panes.
burned through the
snow with apples
You in the
I was thinking
this be some
warmth I can
and never know
The chameleonSome days he’s the sheik, he’s
Valentino, slicked back hair
for a dangerous tango. A
day later it’s jeans, the bad
boy, the hipster. His sneer
pierces. His beard grows in
over night. Some days he’s
French, some days Italian.
He’s the sheik in more ways
than one. The heart breaker,
the Valentino. Tango with
him and he leaves a stain.
One day he’ll bring you
chocolate, another he’s in his
Fred Astaire hat, is the dance
away lover. Too many women
linger near his tent. Valentino
in a pale striped summer
suit, Valentino in the tuxedo.
The days he’s Viennese,
your feet won’t touch the
ground. He smells sweet as
he says you do. For beat or
hippy days, his sweat smells,
thrills some. If death gets
him young like Valentino,
the train with his gorgeous corpse
would stall traffic. Long haired
girls, blue as the silver bloom,
or the tart and sweet blueberry
will cry and no one no one will
know who he went out as
Lyn Lifshin: Dangerous Tango
Part of the PoetryCircle Showcase series.