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SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Kisses I Remember

by Laurel Ann Bogen

In 1969 Ray Olson kissed me in the front seat of his Rambler. He tasted like cigarettes and although I never smoked I still like that taste.

In 1958 I kissed my sister good-bye as she married her first husband. Four more were to follow.

In 1982 I went to a Tom Waits concert to avoid seeing KISS.

In 1976 Harley kissed me outside the Vagabond theater on Wilshire Blvd. When he ran his lips down my neck, my back arched and I spilled my purse all over the sidewalk.

In May 1995 Little Guy Bogen kissed my nose with his orange cat tongue. Sandpaper kiss.

In 1962 Robert Goulet kissed me on the forehead backstage at the Coconut Grove. I was 12.

Ray Levin, calling from Savannah, always says, “Our kisses make us feel better.” He should know.

In 1999, hearing Joni Mitchell reminded me that “in France they kiss on Main Street.”

On December 7, 1971 my father leaned over me and kissed me while his tears splashed my face. It was the first time I realized that he liked me. The empty bottle of chloral hydrate mocked; the red light on the ambulance went around and around, the straps on the gurney held me like a sarcophagus.

In 1963 I kissed a mirror to see what I looked like in case James Bond came into my bedroom.

2009: John Harris, S.A. Griffin, Michael C. Ford, and Sherman Pearl kissed me so they could be in this poem.

On July 14, 1992 I kissed my brother and wished him a Happy 40th Birthday. I watched as he unwrapped my gift: a baseball signed by Willie Mays, his hero.

The Kiss of the Spider Woman is a book I read in 1986.

In 1979 I kissed an envelope handwritten by Gene Wilder, The World’s Greatest Lover.

In December 2004 I kissed Kathleen Lohr, Mark Beaver, Claudia Handler, Brad Dourif, Doug Knott, Janet Sager, Erica Erdman, Nichole Morgan, Jerry Garcia, Rick Dowlearn, Cindy Woods, Beth Ruscio, Becky Garcia, The Lively Ms. Lively, Linda Hoag, Michael Gall, and Venesha Pravin before we listened to Dylan Thomas read A Child’s Christmas in Wales on the CD player. Then we all drank too much champagne and orange juice and eggnog. I needed to go to sleep shortly thereafter.

In 1965 I kissed my grandmother’s powdery face in the nursing home where she died six months later. She did not know me but I had been her favorite.

In 1998 I kissed Mark on the cheek. I swore to myself I would never let myself fall in love again. And I didn’t.

—Previously published in Bogen’s Psychosis in the Produce Department: New and Selected Poems, 1975-2015 (Red Hen Press, 2016); appears here with permissions from author and publisher

SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Laurel Ann Bogen

is the author of eleven books of poetry and short fiction, including Washing a Language; Fission; The Last Girl in the Land of the Butterflies; and Rag Tag We Kiss. Her most recent book, Psychosis in the Produce Department: New and Selected Poems, 1975-2015, was published in 2016 by Red Hen Press. She has received two awards from the Academy of American Poets and a 2011 Pushcart Prize nomination. Her work has appeared in over 100 literary magazines and anthologies including The Maverick Poets, California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Upstreet, The Jacaranda Review, Stand Up Poetry, and Miramar and has been translated into French, German, Italian, and Spanish for international publications.

“...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