“Young Woman in a Black and Green Bonnet,” pastel on paper, by Mary Cassatt, c. 1890.

No Longer I Am Cold

I love a thirty-year-old virgin,
Eva, a beautiful ice queen:
I’ve suffered all my life because
the locket between my breasts
muffles the screams of my heart.
Every sunrise she frightens me
while watching polar bears
on cable, and I’ve stopped reading
Hesse because of her sadist
tendencies. She demands I
wear a paisley shirt every morning—
the same pattern and color.
I own seven of them.
Should I assume she loves me?
Her white hair shines in the shadows
near the vase of black roses she
keeps on her mantle. From Turkey,
she claims, so love me like you don’t
love leukemia, weeds, and adding
machines. Are you a witch? I ask.
What’s a witch? Eva doesn’t
frighten me, for she also loves
blue lilies the color of her eyes.
Talk about mixed metaphors,
she jokes. I love both flowers.
They remind me I’m still human,
so some day, I promise, I’ll
pretend no longer I am cold.

I Don’t Know You

Before I toast you with Here’s
to the Buddhist who never judges,
I’ll tell a joke about a black marble
statue of Lenin everybody thinks
is you. But, dear reader, I don’t
know you, and when I’m
not painting my fingernails
an emerald shade of green, I read
a paperback edition of The Rainbow
Stories, my favorite book this year,
under the walnut tree on a hillside.
Look, I don’t know you, I’m not
sure whether you scream in your
sleep, or carry a notebook with names
of the rivers of the world in it,
but I promise: I’ll never threaten,
flirt with—well, that may be a lie—
or glare at you with my words
that might grab you by your beautiful
neck sometimes, but they’re harmless
as a flute disguised as an orchid.
So, if you’ll meet me at The Broken
Heart tavern, I’ll confide my secrets.
I’m the guy in a full-length pea coat
holding The Believer who’ll wink
at you and say, Thanks for reading
this: it couldn’t have been pleasant.


David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, Reed Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, Prime Number, and Ploughshares, among others, and in A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Pushcart, two Best of the Nets, is the author of one full-length collection of poems and four chapbooks, and is the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.