“When a man hasn’t been kissed” by Jeffrey McDaniel

When I haven’t been kissed in a long time,
I walk behind well-dressed women
on cold December mornings and shovel
the steamy exhalations pluming from their lips
down my throat with both hands, hoping
a single molecule will cling to my lungs.

I sneak into the ladies room of a fancy
restaurant, dig in the trashcan for a napkin
where a woman checked her lipstick,
then go home, light candles, put on Barry White,
and gently press the napkin all over my body.

I think leeches are the most romantic creatures
because all they want to do is kiss. If only
someone invented a kinder, gentler leech,
I’d paint it bright pink and pretend
Winona Ryder’s lips crawled off her face,
up my thigh, and were sucking on my swollen

bicep. When I haven’t been kissed,
I create civil disturbances, then insult
the cops who show up, till one grabs me
by the collar and hurls me against the squad car,
so I can remember, at least for a moment,
what it’s like to be touched.

– from “The Splinter Factory”

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About handshedown

Keighley Perkins is a Cardiff-based poet whose influences include Anis Mojgani, Selima Hill and Richard Brautigan. Her work has previously been published in "Acumen", "Elbow Room", "Erbacce", "Fire", "Northwind" and "Obsessed with Pipework". She can also be found online on Twitter at @handshedown. View all posts by handshedown

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