Cyril Wong
Choice In The Matter
   for Aimee Mann

      "Pulled down by the undertow,
      it's lucky I know how to row."
         - Aimee Mann

Even after an hour of exercise, the ache
in my mind does not depart to join
the real ache in my abdomen, my arms.
Your guitar turns everything to music,
accompanying itself with the fan1s low whir,
the sustained moan of the washing machine.
I take a bath. I take out the laundry
as my father once did. Hang them up to dry
like lies on the long line of my conscience
pulled down now to a wide, strained grin.
This is not the life I desire. This is
the life I desire. Life. Desire. Such words
ride off into the past like the last few
notes of your song whose lyrics do
damage to me in ways I do not
want to understand. Somewhere, a man
is laughing together with another man.
Somewhere else, a garbage truck is turning
over inside itself again, crushing its contents.
Feeling sorry for myself is something
I have counted on over time. My father
stopped talking to me after he heard what
my best friend and I were doing in my room,
by pressing his ear against my door
like a man listening for a heartbeat. That
was twenty years ago. The man I love
left. This was a year ago. I have
one last set of sit-ups before I go to bed.
I have what I have always wanted. To live
alone. A different song is on the radio now
and sweat creeps into my eyes. This song
is about moving on, straining forward
into the future and leaving nothing behind


I love to smoke
in the dark.
I love the shapes

smoke makes.
It is not
night but almost

morning. And you
will wake up
soon for

work, for
us, for

You cannot
count smoke, except
maybe its curlicues

that disappear
quickly like Japanese

You told me to stop
smoking since
our university days.

"Don1t do it
for me," you said.
"Do it

for you."
I count
how many puffs

I can suck
all the way into me
in a minute.