An almost kiss

by Henry L. Shifrin
Wild Poetry Forum
First Place, October 2012
Judged by Polina Barskova


This little man, an inch or so under five feet, his scalp–
a sea of scalloped skin–closes his eyes as a shadow
of nurse passes. The passing is like a long, high branch’s
sweep. She loosens the downy strap of his robe and from

his shoulders a feather seems to circle down. His taut, urine
skin—skin pulling in the ribs to show—is moon to the naked
bulbs above. A smell of shit, shorts that must be
washed—a flavor of regret the fan blows. His flabby fingertip of cock

seems to have no mind to harden when her breasts press
against his face. She scrubs his back. Then looks at her watch, places
a hand under his chin, tilts his head so she can see into his eyes.
His lips curl as if to pucker; no, only a facial tremor. A smile.


Enjoyable combination of crudeness of the subject and gentleness of the gaze expressed through the intensity of details: there is a very active, insistent, and compassionate eye at work here. Also, very curious approach to laughter, the poem makes one grin--though with somber, sober melancholy. --Polina Barskova

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