Scott Wiggerman is the author of three books of poetry, Leaf and Beak:
Sonnets, Presence, and Vegetables and Other Relationships; and the co-
editor of Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, Lifting the Sky:
Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona
Poems, and Earthsigns, the anthology of 2017's Haiku North America
conference. Recent poems have appeared in Switched-on Gutenberg,
brass bell, Modern Haiku, Chelsea Station, and Sin Fronteras.
The New Standard
I was satisfied with a handcar,
with pumping the lever up and
down on my own like someone
in a silent movie, with working
my way down rusty tracks
to the nearest lonely station—
and then I crashed into you.
Now I want a shiny silver
railrunner, an aerodynamic
wonder that can go from Paris
to Moscow in five hours, time
enough to enjoy the dining car
with red velvet cushions and
white-gloved waiters who never
let my scotch glass fall below
the halfway mark. A private car
insulated from the rush of wind
and clatter of wheels, a car
where I can fall asleep in one
continent and wake in another,
a roomy car that makes other
compartments seem the size
of caskets, an era I'd rather forget.
Ah, but add a caboose for the sake
of nostalgia, one that looks back
at breath-taking mountain passes,
at hamlets where villagers wave
as if they wish they could board,
while the sun gleams like a blazing
ball of afterglow and the stream-lined
train lifts above the fog of past
destinations, its brash horn a strain
of music composed just for us.
Dance of the Underwear
Our last day as a couple:
you remember the U-Haul
getting smaller as you watched
me leave Illinois for Texas;
I remember trading out
for your round-legged one,
but it may have been the other
way around. In fact,
I was heading for Michigan,
three more years before I left
the North for good, though
thirty-five years later,
you don't believe that either.
But here we are now:
grayer, paunchier, happier.
It's the first week of spring,
so I take you to Mt. Bonnell
for a hilltop view of Austin,
the fresh green disproving
your tired notions of Texas.
On our way down,
four firemen jog up the steps
we trudged, younger
but not necessarily hotter.
We move on to my house.
You show me your tattoos,
including one of an armchair,
a chair on your arm. Clever.
I show you my collages.
You claim I never did art
back then, but the dates
in the corners prove otherwise,
including the nude you want,
Dance of the Underwear.
I almost give it to you
to replace the Polaroid
of me on red satin sheets
you display back in Chicago.
Maybe someday I will.
A lesbian artist once told me,
"You have the most masculine feet.
May I?" She sketched them in pencil,
never another part of my body,
just ankles downward.
Yet I was flattered that anyone
found any part of me "masculine."
I still go barefoot most of the time.
Only now these feet are decades older,
my soles, according to my husband,
"like horn," too rough to hold or caress
or lie across his thighs at night.
For years, no one's wanted to draw them,
and some don't even want to see them—
masculine or not, they're hooves.
Since then I've also learned:
Lesbians prefer comfortable shoes.
Feet, like leather and rubber, wear out.
Flip-flops are not shoes.
What We Mean When We Think of Love
Sometimes I think every line
I've ever written about love
has been to a stranger.
Or perhaps from a stranger,
as I seem to become
someone other than myself
when I write about love.
Sometimes I wonder if we
know enough about love
to write anything but what
we've been taught to believe—
Cupid, red hearts, moony eyes,
the swept-away rush of endorphins,
all the clichés of books
and movies and songs where
characters fall—not just succumb—
into passion and romance,
head over heels in everlasting bliss.
Sometimes I look at a stranger
and wonder if this is the one
who will take me to that place,
and sometimes I see you
looking at me, but never
with the same magic, never
with a gaze of stardust,
but sometimes with the sidelong
glance of a strange recognition.
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