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The Last of the Gentlemen Heartbreakers

ISSUE:  Summer 2005

—for C.B.

Southern romantic that you always
were, what fallacy recalls you better

than the pathetic one?

If lightning fried a single swampy
pine anywhere south of Cincinnati,

you were gassing up the bagpipe and
drinking to your fallen comrade

before it hit the ground.

You had the knack I admire for self-
satisfaction, a gift for the dubious

backward—your cask of port in every
port and a woman in every storm.

Oh, True Love and Subject of My Late
Juvenilia, there wasn’t a ribald

particular I didn’t come to know:

the yoga instructress on Valentine’s Eve,
the xeroxed erotica files

arranged by body part. Did you think you
were the only mastermind with

a stoned cat purring on your lap, a loyal
death squad on retainer? Count it

a child’s Christmas miracle that I let
you live. Sources report you’re still

irresistible, a waltz-step elegy
with a showy limp, the same

theme-park pirate in a soiled black
patch, but why did you insist on

covering your good eye?

You know I don’t mean this,
as some girls say, in the bad way.

To be fair, you were generous with
a camellia and were born knowing

when to offer a lady your handkerchief.


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