"Playboy's Guide to Lingering"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
July 28 2009 6:46 AM

"Playboy's Guide to Lingering"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Joseph J. Capista read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
.

We read lingerie as lingering.
An innocent mistake, yes, though

we didn't dally in Patel's humid
newsstand amid hanks of cigared

tobacco and men in coveralls logger-
heading with the Pennsylvania Lotto

to expand our budding tongues
but to confuse the single shelf

of cryptograms and crosswords
with the candied shelves of pornos.

Despite our lousy decoding, we
proved adept disrobers, kid-minds

keen to peel what we'd later call satin
from skin like we peeled bright, waxy

clementines slipped in our stockings,
our reward for a year of skirting Satan.

Nonchalant as bubble gum, we thumbed
them cover to cover, lingered, elbowed

one another while we dittoed each
sweet image deep in memory's folds:

love's coy postures, saddle-stapled.
And that is how we imagined

it would be for us on those winter
afternoons: flimsy resistance, a finger's

steady pressure, the split of soft fruit.
We'd puzzle over language later.

For now, we had more important
things on our hands to misread.

.

Joseph J. Capista's poems are forthcoming in the North American Review and Literary Imagination. He teaches writing at Towson University.

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