Ashley Keyser


Exquisite privacies of skin laid
            bare, jeweled in perspiration,
                        embarrassing no one,

cram those trains, a Tetris’d mesh
            compact as babushka bags packed
                        with rosy hunks of salted pork,

dried fish and their flat, silvery,
            gloomy eyes, and little gold apples.
                        Food smells, human smells mingle

in the close air, all of us close, as in
            proximity or “almost.” A panoply
                        of breasts wobbles drowsily

in tube tops, very floral housedresses
            like pairs of plump, disgruntled hens.
                        I watched a girl push together hers,

giving a look to the boy in shiny shoes
            like her eyes were tongues. They left
                        for the WC, straddling the toilet’s

distended steel lips, and my libido gurgled
            like I’d thrown it into hot fat.
                        Once a drunk leered in my face, 

“Where do you think you are, Noov Yark?”,
            conceiving one of those instant, male
                        hatreds for me, half sexual,

and tried to sit in my lap like a nephew.
            Breathing their air, I’m thankful
                        still for the stinking fact of people,

for the couple who ate
            four hours straight: rolls, skins
                        of grapes piling wrinkled as foreskins.

Thankful, as if all the salo sandwiches
            he folded for her with slow ceremony
                        were meant instead for me,

as empty platforms ticked past,
            the woods bristling, night wind
                        through its needles a lonely whinge.

Ashley Keyser

Ashley Keyser lives in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets 2015, Pleiades, The Cincinnati Review, The Journal, and Passages North, among others.