In the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

by Michael Sukach

Sometimes I want to be Jack Nicholson,
notorious, six-foot hip and dagger grin.
So when the New York blood bombshell,
photo-opting at the Hollywood cocktail,
asks me, "Would you care to dance?"
like I was cast to undo the debutante,
I just say, “Wrong verb.” But instead,
the cars are warming up...
the last chance for farewell in the parking lot.
You come at me in your runway strut,
arms out like you are tossing off a shawl,
and I'm Woody Allen, maybe in Annie Hall...
the balcony scene with all those subtitles.
And someone has tied my shoes together,
and the bellhop holds my coat and snickers,
and inevitably I push on all the pull doors,
and I go to the deconstructive analyst
and free associate from her grocery list
and I have that dream: everyone is smoking
everyone else's cigarettes and quoting Sartre,
...and even the waiter is quoting Sartre,
and then Sartre walks in...
...and everyone calls him J.P....
and he starts doing Jack Nicholson....
During the drive I deconstruct all our chats
in cafe, after the other hours
stirring in rooms, in hallways like cats.
So easy to misconstrue as overture
lighting cigarettes, looks, if there were looks....
And it occurs and recurs, too late, too sudden,
you are the woman, or like the woman, or not,
in that Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
And I have walked you to doors a gentleman,
and tilted my hat in courteous evenings and days
and circled parking lots with nothing to say,
and perfected the art of not wanting you,
should once you turn away toward a window,
"That is not it at all, that is not what I meant, at all."

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