Denise Duhamel

November 28, 2016 Duhamel Denise



my face is old now

crinkles like permanent sleep lines

I suppose I am getting ready

for that ultimate slumber


still I like to feel the bed sheets

against my legs

imagine someone grabbing hold

of my ankles working their way up


so the pain in my hip

is erased by pleasure

so my stiff neck melts like butter

and I am calling out a name


thinking of all the men

I said no to because I was already taken

the Japanese student a foot taller than I

whose chest was smooth muscle


I told him I had a steady boyfriend

and thought myself a heroine

of my own self-righteous story

then came the man who wore costume horns


as he rang my doorbell because he read my line

“I want a boyfriend with antlers”

I shied away because he was too eager

and I didn’t like his glasses


though I didn’t even have a boyfriend that year

I put off the married dude

because all I could picture was a wife

in an apron chasing me with a rolling pin


he was going to sleep with someone anyway

so he slept with my friend

it was that kind of night when you go out

with the specific goal of meeting a stranger


like the guy with whom I slow danced

for over an hour before making out with him

on the back steps until I sobered up

and said I can’t and he called me


a bitch and a cock tease

he was like a car that went from 0 to 90

from desire to rage

and I always hated that song


‘To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before”

which seems so patronizing and silly

and yet here I am tonight

humming along with Julio and Willie


my fingers are so slippery

with you in me

with me in you

perhaps I should take off my rings

Denise Duhamel’s most recent books of poetry are Second Story (Pittsburgh, 2021) and Scald (Pittsburgh, 2017). Blowout (Pittsburgh, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is a distinguished university professor at Florida International University in Miami.