Craig Cotter

A Poem Can’t Start Like This

I had a 9 hook-up today for a half hour
could've been a 10 but had a barn-burner of a headache.
That didn't end until the second hour of a foot rub
by Wan Ming Yang.
He is a 10.
3-day-old hickey on his neck.

If I didn't have that headache we could've gone an hour.
The poppers he used made my headache worse
(contact buzz).


Lovely Wan Ming Yang.
His slender fingers
rubbing my skull above my eyes
in the groove there.
The headache started to disappear the minute his slender fingers got in there.


Wan Ming Yang's ass goes on forever.
His waist is 29 inches.
You know when some guys are very young
their bubble asses are lifted
the round part up by his back
then a steep rounding into the V as his crack disappears into his legs.
You just wanna get your hand in there.
Your tongue.

When he leans down I look in his t-shirt—
not a hair.
Flat stomach ripples as he bends.


I think Wan Ming Yang is lying on his side in bed lonely right now.
I think Alex is getting up to pee in New York at 4:16 a.m.


I thought in doing this
I'd remember two people.

Now, not only do I know nothing about them,
I can't remember them.


On the three wish dream
I usually want to know all the languages in the world.
Then unlimited money and eternal life.

Can I get eternal life with a caveat? That if I want to die I'm allowed to?
Or is that four wishes?


You're a smart fucker reading this poem.
Of all the things you could be doing
glad you chose this.
Do you wonder what I was like?
Are you pissed that you didn't choose something else?
Do you feel you have to keep reading to see how it ends?


These great eternal questions. They really aren't questions. We hate the one answer
so we make giant buildings we don't let the homeless sleep in.


Don't care
how broke I am
going into more debt.

Money flows out
like the blue ink
of this effective pen.

I could never make my steel string guitar
sound anything like James Taylor
makes his.

My health slipping away
don't think my doctors
can reverse it.

O well—so many good poems,
good friends and lovers.
Even when we dump each other

I still love you.
I can't think of one past friend—

I don't still love.
Sue Stoyanoff's hip-hugger jeans
at the bus stop in 7th grade.

Scott Hubbard nailing my left thigh
with a tight packed snowball
from fifty yards

with Mickey Lolich velocity.


A good brush-back,
chin music
the best

you dig back in,


You grew during the 5 summers we were together.
I borrowed my dad's Nikon
when you were 16
I sometimes wonder that I still think & dream about you.
You didn't mind me taking photos and never posed
6-1, 130 pounds of toned muscle & soft skin,
oily hair made your forehead oily sometimes
red pimples beautiful.
My shift would end an hour before yours
I’d watch you fix swimming pool pumps in the shop
we were going out to a diner for burgers
and then to Lake Ontario so you could swim at night.
I'd pull up a stool and watch you take apart,
repair, & reassemble pumps.
You'd find the broken or worn part.
Often a seal, bearing or impellor.
When your shift was over
you'd wash your hands
with the green gunk that came in cans
over a large, deep, white enameled steel sink.

But enough of me. Enough of Alex.
How's your day going?
As you hold this book
I hope—even

during my obliteration—
you’re content, even in love
with a few people.

My dream of you Thursday morning—
exactly like you were—
no years aging us.
Know it's all right to still fixate on you.
Know love for me is retrospective.

Craig Cotter was born in 1960 in New York and has lived in California since 1986. His third collection of poetry, CHOPSTIX NUMBERS, is available from Boise State University's Ahsahta Press. In 2011 his new manuscript, After Lunch, was a finalist for the National Poetry Series. Poems from After Lunch have appeared in Hawai’i Review, poems-for-all, Poetry New Zealand, Assaracus, Court Green, Eleven Eleven, Euphony, The Antigonish Review & Caliban Online. Twelve of his poems were nominated for Pushcart Prizes 2009-2012. www.craigcotter.com
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