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The Kiss
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The Kiss

Every time I bend down to tie my shoes
I want to kiss my stomach on the mouth.
Every time I hear that the San Andreas fault
is going to bust
its fat belly wide open
and push California into the Pacific,
I want to rub my face against the sea otters' whiskers
and draw blood from my cheeks.
In the morning I dance naked with the windows open
and pretend to kiss the neighbor
before the moon has gone completely mad and kissed
the night sky goodbye.
When I was twelve
a twenty year old named Brazil
stuck her tongue down my throat
in the back of a public restroom
at a gas station in Texas
and each of my limbs became
a limestone rose. It was a kiss for the ages--
all ammonia and lipstick.

Two years later, when I kissed my first love, Natasha,
her hair fell onto my chest and there was a quiet inside my throat
that turned me upside down.
Nothing moved in her room but the inside of my mouth
that had never seen the wind. It was the kiss of a thousand miracles
The Bible never spoke of
and then it was the kiss
of a guitar against the bellicose air
to make someone in the back of the bar
pick up his head
and sigh. A twang bar kiss with a touch of mandolin. A whiskey kiss
with a beer back pucker. The kind of kiss
where everything slows down
like a train into the depot at three a.m.—the steam, the lights,
the brakemen on the pad
with heavy eyes
and oil under the nails.

This morning when I kiss my wife
my fingernails glisten and I am filthy from the stink of poverty
and sugar. I eat too many doughnuts.
My kisses take a long time.
Traffic jam kisses. Stop and go kisses. Kisses before the horn.
They have a beginning and a middle. The end
is the last vibration of a crashed cymbal
before the bass. 12 bar blues kisses
that have found the mercy,
the Art Blakey backbeat endless cradle of rhythm kisses
that have no top and no bottom. They are not
the sloppy wet kisses of the dog--
all tongue and teeth because she has no idea.
These are the kisses of purple and lilac, redwood and
The slam-up-against-the-wall kisses
that have no memory and break the body into a thousand little pieces
of clay;
the kisses that leave me alone on the rug,
her breath in my face, one hand on the glue,
the other on her breast. The kiss of death
and the resurrection kiss, the kiss
of the calm and the kiss of the wild monkey
who has no rage.