Drawing by Judith Wolfe
Richard Fein



      God, in the incarnation of Jean-Paul Sartre on laughing gas,
      personally admonished me.
      "Be not naughty unto women," snickered He.
      But I had a hangnail and was focused on my toenail clippers.
      I remained unfaithful, of course.
      No, when a blonde was the woman of my dreams,
      I wasn't in a cheap motel with a redhead–
      neither when a brunette was the current love of my life,
      did I sneak out to a midnight club with a bald, nose-ringed punk rockette.

      Rather, when I was arm and arm with my momentary eternal love,
      and she peeled away not her bra and panties,
      but the rouge covering her psyche,
      I would seek the solace of my secret other and plead,
      "My lady doesn't understand me but you do."
      The line always worked, and the sex was WOW!
      But my ladies all found out.
      They'd rip the bedcovers off and would expose naked me,
      then leave me alone to wrap my arms around myself.
      Eventually, I died of embarrassment, really died.
      On the great scales, my heart was balanced against the ankh of veracity,
      with the goddess's thumb discretely pressed on that pan of truth.

      So here I am, condemned for an eternity to a supermarket checkout line,
      holding my one purchase, a melting popsicle dripping sticky cream on my hands,
      while every woman in the world is in front of me,
      each with an oversized pocketbook, fumbling for exact change.


      Perhaps there is only one amid the spiral,
      with a commerce of ideas among the planets
      just a fantasy of a singular intelligence.
      Perhaps out there only sterile solitude awaits.
      Life rides a wafer-thin carousal within a cloud of myriad suns
      and is as fragile as a frayed tire on a nail-strewn road.
      Too near the yawning black hole center
      and the gravities of a million Sols hurl asteroids around
      like jellybeans in a children's food fight.
      Too far and the heavy metals of life become scarce as gold.
      But most chilling of all,
      the brass ring of knowing your own name
      might be beyond reach of all life forms but one.
      This annular astral array may harbor a single galactic gem.
      For how many Eves could nibble on contraband apples,
      and how many Adams could wolf the cloying fruits down,
      before the harried Ringmaster cries enough,
      and like some jealous suitor wraps just one diamond ring
      around the finger of his only bride to be?

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