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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)

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