The black eye dead as a shark’s
flickers to life across the plumb-line
creases cornering his mouth,
the bad teeth, the hated cowlick
always verging out of control.
Bent over the washstand
he regards himself coldly
in a small square mirror. The room’s
cold too for a round-shouldered guy
who sucks in his breath to seem tall.
Will is the thing -- hard lodestone
of repressed desire. The eye
turns searchlight, pinpoint, brilliant.
The air clamors with klaxons
that only he hears.
Steam floats from brushed foam in its bleached
balsam cup. The straight stropped razor
weights his hand, balancing breakfast
and blood. Strange thrill, to test it
with a crooked thumb. Clean steel,
sharp and undoubtful. It rings against
porcelain like a mess bell. Sun fades behind
broken clouds. Stahl passend ist,
he murmurs. Meist passend.
Steel is good.
From Man Overboard (2018)