A Tale of Two Portlands (w/. Martin Ott)

It was the best of lines, it was the worst
of lines. Or so she said the next morning

when our search for her missing underwear
led us to grind to halts and hollers on beige

antique rug, our newest arena, where we
whiled away another damp hour, another

stray occasion. We shared the wetness:
toothbrushes, plumbing, childhood tales,

until her departure to the western Portland
left me to questions all the lines before.

How did we get to be in the same named
place with unnamed desires? Now holiday

cards stack up like losing hands, just a failed
flush of hearts. Now phone entendres elicit

less foamy spurts, more primal cries and hurt
nipples, children who’ll never possess Maine

accents, bedbug husband infesting others’
mattresses, predawn diner reveries fading

under middle-aged protocols. As I remember
her under me, she cries, “Don’t touch that!”

to a whine in the background. “I have to go.
Sorry!” This is the way an old world ends,

not with more bangs or midnight whispers,
but with hot Oregon stoves, abrupt dial tones.