A permanent home and museum for poets and poetry

Poems by Jeff Kass

Sometimes everything you want

by Jeff Kass

Comes down to the way your girlfriend
keeps checking her watch, keeps finding
ways to remind you Prom Night is failing
to live up to the hype and her anxious
perspiration is not the same thing
as free-fly sweat from dancing without
worry and your best friend Bob Dee will
look at you with eyes like oil spills
and say everyone is here with someone
they love except me
, and you will know
that is not truth.

Sometimes it comes down to rising
from the table, leaving your date to finger
her souvenir champagne glass with the words
All night long etched in gel pen and you
have never liked Lionel Ritchie, and there’s
nothing all night long about somebody checking
her watch every ten minutes even if she chaired
the committee that chose that theme song,
and, face it, you’ve never danced with someone
who wasn’t in A.P. classes, you just haven’t.

Actually, you haven’t danced much, period,
but here is Starr Dawson, whom you don’t
know well, and she’s not wearing a watch
and is she pretty? Maybe. You’re 17 and have
no real basis for understanding beauty. You have
a poster of Cheryl Tiegs taped to your closet door
primarily because it appeared in Sports Illustrated
and your friends declared it something special, but here
is Starr Dawson. Is she on the basketball team? Maybe
it was volleyball. You’re both dressed up. You have a ridiculous
boutonnière and a striped shirt. You look like a candy cane about
to get married. The best thing you do that night is dance with Starr.
The dee-jay plays Hot Chocolate, I believe in miracles, you
sexy thing.
You know as much about sexy as you do about
beauty, but you nonetheless understand a miracle when you’re
in one. Bob Dee will drink too much and thump his little brother
a solid crack in the face, breaking his glasses. That could have
been you. It wasn’t. Twenty-six years later, you still remember
Starr. A sweat that wasn’t nervous. Five or six songs in a row.
Not all night, not nearly, but enough.