Today's poem is by Jasmine V. Bailey

Apologia for Lechers

When you see the topless teenage girls
sunbathing in Mallorca, their grins
traveling towards the corresponding
teenage boys, who run and chortle
in that casual way that's almost always an act,
you may say, good, let these young, lithe
beauties enjoy one another's perfect bodies
and empty hearts, let them not be squandered
on the lapping, desperate love of some
old slob or needy woman.

You realize that blond is not a color but the way
no part of them is made of earth. All dust in them
has come from stars with trembling half-lives
that sing softly, there is no other moment.
They are stupid as deer which saves them
from the ugliness of philosophy,
rip tides in the Balearic,
its botulistic trash, which saves them
from the mistakes that thinking causes.

Or then again you might scan those legs, those
chests that have their own assertions against man's
and nature's laws, chests no one can govern,
and you might observe that they don't know
how rare the girls they practice love on are.
And that boy who wets her lips
could be any other spearfishing from the jetty
for all she cares, because the world
is full of mirrors: sun gleam, water's surface,
a best friend's tinted glasses whose name
she won't remember the summer after next,
and that makes it easy to see nothing at all.

You may see that, like victims of thirst
or ignorance, they'll drink anything, take work
that amounts to slavery, buy lobster
from the factory store until their credit's gone.
When the knock comes at the door, they'll turn
to the middle of the bed where the disaster
of time will dawn in what last night was a lover.
They have never noticed anything before;
now everywhere they look the mirrors
distort tirelessly those sheer lines, those colors
that came in gaily from outer space
just to gad about a day and die,
that you and I saw on the beach, and pined.

By now you love them, want to save them
from the idiot in the bed, the coked-up
groupie in the bathroom. Why should they
never again make love to a slender boy
now they've discovered what one is?
If you could you would take one to Mallorca,
set a wide-brimmed hat upon her faded head,
turn her towards the jetty dripping gods
and say, It's alright, my dear, go on.
At the hotel you order palo and watch
peasants batter octopi against the rocks.

Copyright © 2017 Jasmine V. Bailey All rights reserved
from Disappeared
Carnegie Mellon University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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