Issue 14
How the Peeping Tom Came To Remember

The staircase is indeed graceful,
delicately forging a sense of anticipation.
No one will be pushed down it over a will contested.
Diamonds and other gems flash in subdued settings.
Women are clad in gowns of hushed hues
in fabric cut in simple, sumptuous lines.
Here and there—a flash whirls by,
a socially sanctioned splotch of madcap.

Men cradle their companions’ elbows proudly,
nodding at the right moments and to the right people.
There are no beads of perspiration here.
Perhaps it is the air conditioning,
purring inaudibly, orchestrating its alchemy.
Or perhaps it is the sense of entitlement borne with breeze:
Of course we are fabulous.
Until proven otherwise, we will assume the same of you.

Without any apparent signal the movement slows
and then ceases altogether.
Individuals ascend to the podium to declaim their
word concoctions to eyes willed unblinking
and (finally occasionally) sagging heads.
Here and there,
a gilded coiffure is fingered and reassembled,
flowered fans flutter.

As he peers through the window in the door,
having somehow eluded the bouncer,
the words from a long-ago note, bordered too in gilt,
flutter across a pastry puff (at least that) snatched
from a platter whisked along by a waiter:
“Your words too could (almost) be recited in polite society.
But with a few ill-advised phrases,
with an insistence on filth, you ruin it all.”