William Fargason

Third Date

You take me by the hand,
                                 then you are leading me by the hand up another
          set of stairs, then another.
                                           The mint leaves beneath
                     crushed ice in my glass. The shades of painted glass
instead of neon. If the light seems
                                           too bright, it’s because it is.
          Then, through my teeth, I feel the sound of my shoes scuffing
                     the bricks underneath.
                                               Then the lights again, distracting me
from the bricks, the two points fixed or moving up or down
          the slope. But there is nothing to explain.
                                                              It’s all there:—in your hands,
                     my hands. You’re boring me and I’m stupid. We make
a terrible combination.
                           Let’s rewind to where
          we walk in, back to where the light felt too hot,
                     let’s rewind to where we order our drinks and pretend.
Here we are on our third drink,
                                           I’m not even sure if we had a second,
          and I thought we were only staying for one.
You, my pinwheel, my arrowhead,
                                           you’re busy flirting with a lamppost
          when I realize we’re outside;—I strike a match, light mine first
                             (which seems rude, I know) but I’m burning off all
the sulfur so you don’t taste it.
                                           I look down at my glass;
          it’s empty again, but I’m not sure how it happened.
                                                                           Then, we’re driving.
                           You hit a bump, the CD skips. The choice is in my hands.
Your hands disappear, just off camera.
                                                Hey, what happened
          down there? I don’t know what to tell you anymore.
                         The present feels too uncomfortable, too bright, too warm,
but it’s not your fault—the constant
                                           doing and undoing, my inability
          to stop everything
                                from slipping when it all starts to feel like a spiral.
                           Hey, why do you make that face? I get out of the car
and stand in the street.
                         It’s almost silly, how fast you disappear.
          Then I walk back in
                                alone, and it starts raining bricks.
                    I exit out the back door, look for the street,
                                                                           can’t stop sweating.
I’m losing myself to myself
                                and have lots of catching up to do.
                    When I say I’m making a handgun sandwich,
                                                                           what I mean is:
you take it, you stick it in your mouth, and you swallow it.
          What I mean is: it’s a joke,
                                          and you should take it and laugh.
                    But no one laughs; the back door leads to nowhere, no street.
This is what happens when you stop pushing dust under the rug
          and instead throw out the rug itself:
                                                        things get dusty.
                    Then the lights swirl,—my hands against the brick wall.
The whole scene’s collapsing, piece-by-piece.
                                                         I never even had a fourth drink.
          Give me back your hands, holy in all their longing.
                                                                         Give me back
the mint, the light, the clink of glass. Give me back the taste like river stones
                                                                                             in my mouth.
          I stand in the middle of the street, I wait for you, but no cars pass.
                    Take worry and set it on fire. Then you’ll be here.
If I had a word to call it I would, I’d pin it down,
          I’d hold it in my hands.
                                       When I say I’m not sure (even now)
                    what’s happening or where this is going,
                                                                       what I mean is:
          I’m so good at pretending and you’re back again.


William Fargason received a BA in English from Auburn University, where he served as poetry editor of the literary magazine The Circle. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in New Orleans Review, Eclectica Magazine, Nashville Review, Bayou Magazine, New World Writing, and elsewhere. He lives with himself in Hyattsville, Maryland, where he is currently a poetry MFA candidate at the University of Maryland.