by David Graham
There's nothing worse than old people talking about sex.
--student, overheard in the hallway
Nothing worse than your lumpy baggage,
flabby duffels and bulging roll-ons
with burst seams and scuffed straps, passports
all smudged with vanished holiday.
Nothing worse than being criss-crossed
with scars you see and those you don't,
some moss-eyed gargoyle in the mirror
having so little to do
with your former cool stream self.
So cover your love with cloudy comforter,
turn the dark down a few notches,
and be quiet about it, please--nothing worse
than those baby sounds from your throats
taking animal pleasure from time.
How dare you strut that mothball stuff
across our dance floor--don't you know
why your babies' tongues are pierced?
Can't you read the ink on our icebright skin?
No one wants the blood lecture,
the arid anecdote. Don't you remember
this radiator hiss of wisdom
in dusty afternoon? Nothing sadder
than a wrinkled hipster, still groping
the lingo hopefully, fingering the clothes,
doing that clunk-kneed cha-cha in full view.
Don't be spilling your mess of coffee grounds
and apple peels in our sun. . . . You should
practice safe sex, Sir, in the dumpster
of your mind, all overripe with vocabulary.
-from TriQuarterly 128 (2007).