Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015


by Ken Haas

Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss...

—John Keats

Angie encore, divorced cousin
of one of the Bronx boys I went west with
that high school summer impossible to outlive.
She’s putting us up for a night in North Lake Tahoe,
where California takes Nevada from behind.

Four slabs at Smokey’s, then Ray, Lou, and I
pile back into Angie’s beige Suburban with her
and two mid-30s girlfriends who’ve sprung from
the rock shadows sporting downhill eyes and
cross-country legs. A surging riot of Motown
paced by shots of Dewar’s in a Styrofoam cup,
and Angie gets us lost on a high-pass road,
burns to a stop, spins across the slick vinyl,
tweaks the crotch of her short-shorts sideways,
fans my nose with her middle finger
on its dash to the back of my tongue.
In 1968, Angie fetches me into her through
a half-open zipper, her hips out of orbit,
pug nipples a cosmic dashboard that
can’t be pinched nearly hard enough,
till she snaps all those flame locks back
to a cry like some armoire being dragged
across a hardwood floor. The plush Realtor
brings Lou to a briefer pronouncement
in the backseat, and the ex-Kansan whose husband’s
on business in Chico leads Ray from the woods
with two shirt buttons AWOL, a trace of blood on his chin.
The whole earth smells like sex turned inside out,
with a dab of Eau Sauvage and pine straw, steaming now
into next morning’s bacon and huevos rancheros,
as we sit watching Road Runner reruns with Angie’s kids.
We never see the women again,
except in a loop of reverie, after marriage fights
or canceled flights, the day before surgery,
the night I make partner, living alone.

Keats must have died a virgin,
hugging the line, etched in old stone, between
the hiked state of passion kept from its object
and the state of passion fulfilled. Which is why
we still pay him those big romantic bucks
for a boundary utterly imagined...
There is no line the heart can cross over
in this outback where love’s pale as a province,
peak follows peak, skipping the borders,
every hand tastes of candy, wherever it’s been,
Marilyn has Jack and Bobby whenever she wants them,
and bliss notwithstanding, desire never ends
again and again.


SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015

Ken Haas

has work published or forthcoming in Amarillo Bay, Alabama Literary Review, Burningwood, Caesura, The Cape Rock, The Coachella Review, Cottonwood, Crack The Spine, Existere, Forge, Freshwater, Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Healing Muse, Helix, Lullwater Review, Moon City Review, Natural Bridge, Pennsylvania English, Pisgah Review, Quiddity, Red Wheelbarrow, Rougarou, Salt Hill Journal, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Soundings East, Spoon River Poetry Review, Squaw Valley Review, Stickman Review, Studio One, Tattoo Highway, Whistling Shade, and Wild Violet.

His poetry has been anthologized in The Place That Inhabits Us (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010) and the Marin Poetry Center Anthology (2012, 2013).

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury