I’m a recent (and very grateful!) Guggenheim fellow and the author of eighteen books, including five collections of poetry, the two most recent being Psalter and “Bocage” and Other Sonnets (recipient of the X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize). My other books include Luís de Camões: Selected Sonnets; The Ballad Rode into Town; and The Unfortunates (recipient of the T.S. Eliot Award). I’m a former Fulbright (in Portugal) and the recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship. My next book, Love Sonnets, is forthcoming from Kelsay Press later this year. My website: http://williambaer.net
I’m sitting alone watching Friday Night Fights,
paying close attention, when out of the blue,
I remember the most amazing of all fight-nights
and find myself – what else? – thinking of you.
Thinking of that night at Caesar’s, which Ring Magazine
has called the greatest ever, with its twists and turns,
an electrifying eight-minute war between
Marvelous Marvin and Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns.
But even at ringside, I was thinking about later that night,
about you – about our pre-planned night of “lying-in,”
alone, together, still high on the fury of the fight,
in our intimate hotel room at the Desert Inn,
which was, both now and then, without a doubt,
the very best thing in the world worth thinking about.
I’m next in line, but I can’t remember why.
Panic, like acid, surges inside of me.
Why am I waiting beneath this endless sky
on a line that stretches as far as the eye can see?
Maybe it’s for a ticket for a fight?
Or a play? Or a concert? Or a magic show?
Or maybe it’s for a ticket back to that night
when I held you in my arms twelve years ago,
when the Jersey shore and the stars and you were mine,
and the moon, dripping with love, and the universe?
Suddenly, a shutter slams down. There’s a “Sold Out” sign.
As the docile crowd begins to slowly disperse,
I rush, enraged, at the booth, smash it and kick it,
screaming loudly, “Give me my bloody ticket!”
Is it inappropriate (or wrong)
to sometimes find myself thinking of
her nakedness? Like a recurring song
that haunts me, chastely, about our living love.
Of course, most times, I simply think about:
her kindnesses, her trust, her laughing face,
our trips abroad, the beaches, and dining out,
her calm profundities, her charm, her grace.
So is it somehow wrong to think of her
undressing herself? Devoid of time or scene,
just her, and all her movements, as they were,
being the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen,
knowing it’s never wrong, and knowing she knows
how lovely she is, with and without her clothes.
©2015 William Baer