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Arnold Klein

“What I want’s shorts.”
Could I have planted one idea in this kid’s sconce, “shorts”

Would have been it.
She always knew whatever look would next be in, it

Seemed to reach her
By E.S.P—whatever look one saw her feature

Always told one
What every girl’s would be. And now she’d junked her old one,

The, quote, “skate” look—
Her jeans five sizes oversized—which bantamweight look

Had become her—
For one which my imagination would, that summer,

Run amok on:
For this kid was the one I was completely stuck on.


How’d it happen?
Where it started, when—those I can stick a map pin,

À la Google,
To indicate: July of ’92; MacDougal

Near Mamoun’s—as
Anomalous a phiz, with features like cartoons’, as

Ever sorted
With total crushability. How hers comported

To make beauty,
Even when I knew them to the most minute T,

Made for stumpers,
There being no one’s like hers, in with whose to lump hers.


How’d it happen?
I was watching her, her new skirt in her lap, pin,

Baste and seam it,
To make it even shorter. Had that day a dream, it

Was, she’d don it.
We met by chance a lot; so, though I wasn’t on it,

I got used to
Imagining her daily—picking routes with views to

Where I’d met her.
Her theory as to hemlines went, short skirts offset her

Too-short torso.
What made her physiognomy, though—no girl’s more—so,

So heart-aching
Was how fast down she dropped, no horizontals making

For distraction.
She laid the skirt, now shorter by some subtle fraction

Of a foot, down,
To order some profiteroles, and blithely put down

No small plateful,
Not dreaming how that skirt would enter, by the pate-ful,

My routine, too.
But neither did yours truly. How expect nineteen to?


How’d it happen?
Of course one would have loved it had she set her cap in

One’s direction,
But that was never on. Her final mate-selection

Came at twenty.
Besides, with incompatibilities aplenty,

“On” we weren’t.
She never let me doubt our footing, as first current,

Wouldn’t alter;
If fantasies were had, I could in no way fault her

As coquettish.
But on a kid the crushable and quasi-fetish

Overlap in,
The question’s how to not get stuck, not how’d it happen.


And what’s kinky—
To see that short a skirt projected on that slinky

Of a figure?
A subject who obeys a post-hypnotic trigger

Never questions
His self-control, though it’s the hypnotist’s suggestions

That compel him.
So whatever plants one in one’s cerebellum,

Once a germ ins,
It commandeers the apparatus that determines

What response which
Stimulus receives. One can’t turn off one’s on-switch;

Flip the toggle
As madly as he may, his eyes remain on goggle.


Once it happened,
What was one to do? She had one jeaned kneecap pinned,

Steeply gabled,
Against the bar, and laughed that her designer label’d

Come a cropper
With so short of a skirt the target teenybopper

Demo’d snubbed it.
She had one, though, herself; her “slave skirt,” as she dubbed it,

While one’s lid flipped,
“Slave” constituting one more on-switch that this kid flipped.


For what happened,
Though impercipience deserves to have the rap pinned

Squarely on it,
In my defense, a bee, on entering one’s bonnet,

Makes a right noise,
But soon its importunities become a white noise

To whose hiss he
Goes slowly deafer. Overuse benumbs vibrissae.

Like with contacts
The vain forget they’re wearing, an incessant want acts

In so blanket
A fashion on one’s optics, one can’t help but blank it.


Still, things happen.
What acted like a hypnotizer’s finger-snap in

This subsonic
Monotony, was being asked for moral tonic

By a rookie
Who’d just been dumped. Well, that, said I, was how the cookie

Mostly crumbles;
The issue was how quickly back up, after tumbles,

On one’s bike one
Got. Then, offered as a concrete instance, like one

Asserts appeal to youths, of how tight one could bottle

Idle tears up,
“Take me,” then from the blue, “I’ve racked nine hopeless years up

Really pining
For a kid I’ll never get”—without defining

Any better
Than that, what might be meant, before, or then, by “get her.”


Surely sleeping
Together was involved? But what effects un-steeping

One so yen-soaked
His yen has vanished in him, like a contact lens soaked

In its eyecup?
No single cure—not sex, nor bidding slave skirts hike up

To the hip joint,
Without discounting either. Greene, near Prince, the hip joint,

“A.P.C.”, where
She manned the till while modeling its dernier cri wear,

Which, that May, meant
The “little girl” look, in which juvenile raiment

She was decked out,
Observing, from apart, her fellows—slightly checked out,

As her wont was;
And had my ache an utmost, that tableau vivant was

The micro-kilt, crossed ankles, look askance—what “getting”

Could have “got” those?
But what the Devil did one ache to get, if not those?


End it would, though.
With yens, you get yenned out, or outgrow yens for good, though

One so grinding
May take some time to fade: a decade’s over-winding

Overstrains springs.
For me, though, too much hypertension on one’s mainsprings

Was proleptic:
That long apprenticeship in being nympholeptic

Had sequelae,
And one would learn for whom one had been pining, really

Really pining,
Whose surrogate she was. But that took years divining.