Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 7 • Fall 2003 • Poetry

Old Haunts

Randall Mann

  1. Smathers Library Men's Room, Second Floor

    What I loved was order:
    the four urinals
    like boats upended,

    tastefully tucked in the corner;
    the squares of splotchy
    black-on-green linoleum;

    the thinning warp of the mirror.
    Four foam dispensers,
    in the pink --

    someone cared.
    And lust, on the stalls' actual marble,
    no-nonsense, civilized:

    Me: 6′1, 170, slim build,
    you: be hairy, clean, healthy,
    and not looking to get off.

    No fats, no fems, no trolls.
    Bottom seeking top.
    Reciprocation is not necessary.

  2. Alley Katz Bowling Alley

    Foul air; beer;
    locals in stonewashed jeans
    leaning against scoring tables

    lamplit, ash-stained --
    each Thursday, before the bar,
    we went bowling.

    I took an amateur's pleasure
    in the release,
    the long roll

    of my borrowed ball,
    the pins' fall -- when they fell.
    It was 1993:

    the boys and I
    were killing time, we
    who couldn't even skip a week

    when R. died, then J.
    We knew we were not immune.

  3. University Club

    Leashed by our friend Amy
    dressed head to foot in black --
    black heels, black tights,

    black her stringy hair,
    dyed for the occasion --
    Dale and I brought up the rear,

    the two of us twins
    in cut-off shorts
    and combat boots;

    in leather jackets,
    borrowed; dog collars
    from French Addiction

    snapped onto our necks;
    our thick black eyeliner
    the distinguishing mark

    of submission,
    of the leather slut.
    Inside, a wiry man

    with a handlebar mustache
    stared me down. I was shaken
    when I saw my reflection

    in the bar mirror,
    so I downed Tanqueray
    and tonic, hoping to God

    none of my students were there.
    And when Dale and I were led
    onto the dance floor,

    when our dominatrix
    commanded us to get down
    on all fours, when I saw Dale

    howl like a wolf
    into the houselights,
    the bar whooping it up,

    I knew. I knew I was in love with him.

Randall Mann was awarded the 2003 Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry. His first collection of poems, Complaint in the Garden, is forthcoming from Zoo Press in the spring of 2004. He has individual poems forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, Poetry, and Salmagundi. He lives in San Francisco.

Go To: Issue 7 or Lodestar Quarterly home page