Cathexis Northwest Press
Some Lies for You; We kissed
By: Barbara Daniels
Some Lies for You
I don’t need green velvet. No candles,
no wine. Just day closing so slowly
it lasts forever, sun slipping quietly
under the hill. Darkness laddering
down the tall sky. Everything sags
in the middle—middle age, midweek,
mid-project, any project. I left
unlocked doors and elm-shaded streets
for interesting troubles. I tried to
find out if drinking does anything
for the soul. For awhile it gave me
those noir rhythms, short sentences,
spectacular week-long hangovers.
Wait. That’s your story, isn’t it? You’re
sick of drivenness, sick of the midpoint,
just as I’m sick of my dryness.
I know I’m a user, taking stories
and putting them out there as mine.
You push those stories over lines
on chalked sidewalks. You drop
bottles. I bore us both with the lies.
on uneven sidewalks
outside a Greek restaurant, on dirty
stairs where my favorite professor
caught us, up on a landing, down in
the subway. Kissed slowly, crowds
moving toward us. You had a friend
with one room, a wall of Stetsons,
straw boaters, Mets caps. You brought
a rose. I thought once only,
you would tire of me once you
tried me. Out in the hills, you left
the key in a motel door in your hurry.
I gravely asked for your paladin body,
heard snow hiss and the key slap
the door: now, now, now, now.
On my bare body you traced paired
parabolas. I pitied stairs, hats, hills,
trees because they could not love you.
Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
“Some Lies for You” addresses the vexed question of appropriating other people’s stories in poems. Some people seem to live in dread of appearing in my poems, but others take a certain grim pride in it. I know I’m a user, as the poem acknowledges, and I’m not saying here whose story this poem tells.
“We kissed” confesses to a passionate affair with the man I’ve been married to now for more than thirty years. My favorite professor at NYU, Leonard Dean, caught us kissing on the stairs. And a friend offered his studio apartment complete with his collection of hats. It’s wonderful good luck that the man I fell in love with then continues to be a marvelous companion. I wrote this poem during one of those poem-a-day writing marathons. The result, as you see, is a poem on a subject I wouldn’t have chosen had I not been pushing against my limits.