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Well-Known Corners of the People

In Bed With _____

Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Pick it up, you said, read it, no questions about who loved first.

Your voice was insistent, half-bitter, even aggressive.

But it was shock really, against your own casuistry.

That an author wouldn’t care much for the false argument.

Do the years really show, write the tiredness on my face?

Have I really stopped caring about what idiom can do and undo?

Truth is: I expected this to happen earlier, a sense of displacement.

The shifting of desire, so altered as to relieve one of all sentiment.

The idea of sentimentality as undesirable has permeated everything.

It taints, stains everything it touches, you recognise it now.

Like acid dye, its sheen over everything, discoloured silk and wool.

It’s like the long sheath of cotton, made to drape over a hearse.

It’s a run of flannel, not as wide a sheet, as if to make a smaller bed.

The large screen on the wall flickers its fluorescence, a sparking plug.

It’s on, just for its low light, dim and unintrusive, as if incidental.

Everything today seems just as casual, accidental, unexpected even.

But also fortuitous, as if happiness gave up a bit of itself, just for us.

In this room, where you tell me we were meant to meet all along.

More sophistries, as your quasi-relativist priest cousin would say.

Easter is a nice example of a moveable feast; so is supper with you.

Here’s your lunch poem, about Aquinas’s take on faith and reason.

What to make of problem and authority, that dual knot and tangle?

You are naked, wrapped in this cloth, a gown rising up to your chest.

You drop the cloth, to let me see your full body in the dim light.

I trace the shape of your torso, hip to shoulder, with both my hands.

You rub yourself, hard against my body, wanting to feel everything.

Everything is what this feels like, each quoin another pressed angle.

The dissolution of all inhibition, and there’s no hesitation.

No questions about what this tincture is, or how long we will last.

No questions about who we’ve slept with, what we think of love.

In Bed With _____ is the 1st place winner of the 2020 Meniscus Poetry Award