Part one can be found here.

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My hunger tells me
To keep on going—
Past the little kiosk
With the snacky breakfast items,
Past the magazine bar
With the bagels and cheap coffee,
Over the next two blocks of worn cobble
To the little omelet shop.

I order while I’m thinking dessert—
The avant bookstore right next door.
Maybe luck will hand me over
My own philosophie book.
I wonder if I‘ll ever see him again—
The strange, good looking man.
I hadn’t even gotten his name,
And he’d vanished without a trace.
They bring me eggs and bacon
And still, I wondered and I wondered.
Breakfast is always so delicious
When you have it away from home.
I don’t know why, but even the toast
Has a crisp to it that’s unreasonably good.

I drink my tea.

I think of Socrates’ bitter cup.
How lucky I am to be sipping peppermint!
These particular thoughts and the flavor—warm,
Arouse me to a new level of awake.

Ready for my treat now,
I head to the faded bookstore,
Where I browse the aisles for something sturdy,
Something I can sink my teeth into.
I round a shelf, startled,
To see him facing me—
The strange good looking man,
Who’s just turned a corner, too.

His eyes are steele.
They stare a hole through my soul
Like he’s never even seen me before.
He coldly blinks
And looks me up and down.
“Divining eyes”, I see the book
He’s holding there, is Shakespeare.
I look him up and down, too,
Once I see his eyes locked on the text.

I turn away toward the ancient books
Shelved in the section where we stand.
Trying to seek asylum there,
To glom on to a title to save me.
My territory is being conquered,
Vanquished by a stronger state,
I’ll surely be taken as plunder and spoil,
Shuffling shackled in the victory march.
I plead the names of transcendent souls
Who wrote free with the “antique pen.”

Not wanting to peruse too much,
Merely, the “beautiful old rhymes in praise
Of ladies dead and lovely knights,”
But “being your slave,”
Not wanting at all to leave your side.
I cut my eyes to spy what you have there:
The One Hundred and Sixtieth Sonnet:
“Prophecies of this, our time prefiguring.”
You flippantly page to 279, where
My eyes land on the Fifty Seventh.
My heart melts on the auction block
As you officially purchase me there
With your breath (but I was long yours,
In tow, chained to your faint cologne.)

My soul rushes headlong now, to “Tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire.”
The prophecies crush me under two great tons of time,
Knowing I can never
“Question with my jealous thought,”
“Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,”
But, this “love will alter,” and altar, not.

He’s staring at me deeply again,
Looking through my eyes, and beyond,
Ultra, and infra-understanding.
Then reflecting their beam upon the page,
He wills me with his uber-strong will
To want him,
But not nearly too much—
To bind him, with dissolving silk,
To seize, not the day,
But only the priceless hour.

He leans in close to read a bit to himself and me,
And presses the small of my back,
Like a button
That raises the door of my heart to speak.
My mouth opens,
But cannot sound.
“Precious time…you require…” he whispers,
Then kisses me as my heart mutely emanates,
“My sovereign, (may I) watch the clock for you?”

He’s lovely, and I am dead.

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Jennifer Long lives here.

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