The premise of this whacked, gashed ankle
and the debacle of blood it's made of my sock
is that my self-improvement project requires it.
Not so, as it isn't so that this is the song
on the car radio I want now. Nor this, nor this.
My five-point private plan of advancement
is fixed: no blood, no working the brake
and accelerator with the left foot since the right's
wrapped tight in a paint-spattered sweatshirt,
no offering my body up to an intern's idea
of skillful stitching. Contingencies allowed
for the pretty widow to kiss me—but not
to go missing for weeks afterward, leaving
only a sentence of her voice inviting me
to speak to her machine. It was this voice
I had on my mind when my mind
was not on the ladder my body was on,
my right foot solidly setting itself
on air—a blunder that had nothing to do
with my to-do list: the few trifling miscues
and cunning recoveries I'll make to effect
an eventual permanent state of elation.
Unstipulated is this stop light I'm stuck at
and this ice delivery truck I'm idling behind,
my fists wringing the wheel, ankle seething,
tongue seething, because it touched her tongue once.
It's not as if I've become a man who could feel
his face go red and wet, then press it hard
into a pillow to make this vanish, all of it—
the burning in the limbs and the bafflement
about a woman whose prettiness and kiss
are provisions I allowed for, but whose behavior
is now inapplicable, is in error.