She doesn’t like my signature scent.
Says it’s way too 1980s GQ-wannabe.
Reminds her of bare-chested, clean-shaven
baby faces wearing perms and puka shells.

She says she doesn’t like my signature scent
as if she doesn’t understand how a man’s
signature scent can stick like a high school
nickname or a bender-between-lovers tattoo.

Hell, I’ve been tipping the same green bottle
for one girlie dab behind each ear every morning
since way before my ex turned ex. At least she
liked my signature scent! Let’s just put it this way,

when it comes to my signature scent, I’m attached.
I miss it already.

Agua Caliente

I drink peppermint tea in the afternoon as a failsafe
against gut-rot adrenaline shots to the center of my chest
caused by this much regret and that much residual caffeine.

Also, I like how it sounds in Spanish –
a language I loved learning along the edges
while failing at marriage for 22 years of my 25-year prime,
a language with words like besame, bonita, and caliente,
a language that knows the wail of an upside down exclamation point
but is beautiful for drinking tea by: Té de menta. ¡Muy bueno!

I always clip the string from the bag
with my teeth so it can steep for the duration.
Each sip is an aromatic soothe.

Maybe it’s because I became a cheapskate
after the divorce, maybe I’m just too lazy
to fish another bag from the cupboard and snap its leash,
but I insist upon using each bag twice.

True, the second cupful isn’t anything close
to anything one might call a spice-wafting brew,
but, believe it or not, hot water is delicious –
especially if you drink it in Español while remembering
how soft is the sound of a gently rolled “r”
when whispered into your ears only.

About Bad Guys and Bears

My six-year old son worries
about bad guys and bears.

He worries about other things, too.
Scorpions. Mother Gothel. Whether or not
he has clean blue jeans for school. His fair share.
But he really worries about bad guys and bears –
mostly bad guys.

That’s why he’s happy to believe
I’m very strong. Very brave. I’m happy
to allow this. He worries less. He worries less, too,
because he knows we have a gun –

locked away safely, but accessible
to his mom – the sure-shot,
the concealed-carry-she’s-doing-the-shooting-if-it-ever-heaven-forbid-comes-down-to-that
portion of our home security system.

I’m the been-through-a-one-day-course-on-basic-firearms-safety muscle.
I’m the take-a-bullet man. The shout-out-to-chivalry human shield.

Our six-year old son doesn’t know
these particulars. He doesn’t need to know.
Doesn’t need to know where we hide the gun,
that it takes only seconds to unlock the safe and pull the trigger,
that we practice. He doesn’t need to know

I worry, too.
Not so much about scorpions
or his fair share, but about bad guys,
keeping him clothed. Every now and then, about bears.
About that gun.

The Things He Clearly Sees

The first thing he clearly sees each day
is the steam rising from his coffee cup –
the cup that lists three reasons he loves
being a dad: Jackson, Wyatt, Abe.

This is the cup he uses day after day
until the inside turns brown and he washes it white,
careful not to scrub the outside and, perhaps,
wipe away the names.

The second thing he clearly sees is the black
ballpoint pen lying right where he left it
the evening before – on his notepad waiting.

It shines there under the glare of the lamp.
It simply shines there as he stares.

There are a few other things he clearly sees
each morning as the days move into every afternoon
and through the way things always, eventually, grow dark;
but you don’t need to know those things.

This, though, you ought to know: the last things
he sees (the things he sees most clearly) are her blue eyes,
crystal as the way love refracts best right before the shatter-drop,
deep as the way infatuation somehow shifts to everything shared.

He sees those eyes clearly and last,
                                                            but only after closing his own.