If Men Wore Lip Paint

by Bernard Henrie
The Writer's Block
Honorable Mention, August 2008
Judged by Tony Barnstone


I am an amateur of love,
but I will write a love poem.

I will say:

the moon is yellow as a goldfish
and big as the breast
of an opera singer.

No.

I would write about
the rich thighs of widows,
or an older woman burnished
by the meticulous night
and speaking Spanish
in loving tongue
to a younger man.

I will write for a heavy woman
sitting in an airport terminal, called
from a pasha couch in a garden,
a cumquat delicately placed
under her clothes.

Young women in summer dresses
half-hidden by a curved boat hull,
shirt fronts buttoned by men
who gaze as though saying rosary.

Rain passes into the night,
love grows old, poems fall asleep
in a chair.

Let me start again:

if men wore lip paint, breasts
and hips of women
would stain red.


This poem is a sweet, lyrical poem, and that’s nice. However, what makes it interesting is its swerves, the quick shtick of magician’s tricks, using syntax to surprise, pulling it like taffy into looping, loopy mental shapes. --Tony Barnstone

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