BEFORE YOU ANSWER
Don’t analyze me, complain about my size,
or conclude I’m an idiot with cat breath,
don’t glibly flash frowns or smiles
over this octopus stew and ginger beer.
We’ve tangoed together longer than forever,
so don’t defer with those sly eyes or
grin with trust in your silver tongue.
I’ll splurge for diamond and platinum rings,
feared by everyone, for I’ll soon own
the Vatican. I know where cottonwoods
pray to depressed skies, when cardinals sing
to their shadows, why perfume lingers in dark
gardenias. Infer what you wish, label me a mouthy
misogynist as you flaunt that creamy
cashmere bikini. Be a chess master who thinks
ten moves ahead, pretend you’re an hourglass
with a brain, but if you leave this restaurant,
consider yourself a pariah, not a devotee.
Meander, object to any abuse of power, prolong
this negotiation, state No comment, and I’ll
order an arrest warrant. Or hesitate no
further and blithely marry me as I charge
my star-drunk cable fans ten thousand bucks
a head to attend our wedding on Mars.
I’d rather pay a demented dentist
to yank out my teeth, smoke
opium with meth freaks in gas
chambers, or kiss a pimpled murderer
from Leavenworth than placate you
by offering my ring finger. I wouldn’t
say Yes if you waltzed in here
and offered me my own country.
Because your bravado is not backbone,
it’s a straw gun cocked with a limp
hammer. Don’t you realize your
bluster repels me when you try
molding my compliance like clay?
As sure as I’m a femme fatale,
I’ll never plead with you to stop
muttering threats when you suddenly appear
like Spring’s mist on an antique mirror.
So don’t call me your sexy devil
and spread empty wealth in my path
like so much caviar on a black croissant.
I pity you, and No, I won’t marry you, dear
Donnie boy, because I own that smoldering
boutique in hell reserved for clients who
embarrass their sold souls by loving
no one but their charred reflections.
I admired him the first time his squinty
eyes haunted mine the first day of high school.
I had to guess about goosesteps he practiced
in khaki uniforms, but he inspired me
to achieve glory playing the piano.
I’ve foxtrotted with plutocrats, conversed
with cockpit bombers, never studied
schoolwork, and I know acrobatics
of linguistics like braids of the son
I’ll sire two years hence. Knowing
the statements were a barricade against
my friendship, I avoided Lyin’
Ned and regretted—twenty years later—
when he advanced toward me and leaned
in to address my chin: I’ve misjudged
you, Daniel, you’re not a cutout of yourself,
but a ballerina disguised as an ogre with duende.
Spray some starch on your beret, thin yourself
from the herd, and join me on the roof
where orchestras blame the moon
for a terrible night. Don’t be a body on the pyre.
I trusted him after endorsing him for President,
and he instructed cronies to testify I owned
gun gardens, a statement framed with his eely
smile. You gotta know where the line
in the sand is or you’ll never fulfill your godly
destiny, he glowed, smiling that last lie,
shanghaiing me to the supermax on the river.