Men and Women I’ve Kissed
Sometime during my second year at college, Eva comes to a party
at our apartment while her boyfriend was studying.
I fall behind the couch and she falls on top of me.
When I leave school at the end of the semester,
I fail several ways.
Grampy sat in his car at my freshman football practice
while he was out of the hospital for two weeks.
On the way to the locker room, I leaned in his window
to kiss his cheek. The guys, sweaty and winded in pads,
just carried their helmets around us.
He passed during wrestling season.
In kindergarten, I had a crush on Julie Snyder,
who lived down a ranch road on the way to our house.
She and her mother wore white go-go boots
like Goldie Hawn’s on the forbidden “Laugh-in,”
which I watched while hidden behind the couch.
Mom said Julie’s parents were hippies and
wasn’t surprised when they divorced.
Julie moved away with her mother. In our class photo
she stood between Alfonso Ruiz and Ricky Bradley whom
I couldn’t help kiss
as I kissed her when no one was looking.
“When I get old,” I ask my youngest son, “will you still kiss me?”
Without taking his arms from around my neck,
he says, “You’re old now.”
When my sons are in grade school, Grandma takes me to lunch
to tell me, no matter what my father says,
”You can come to my house anytime.”
She holds my arm on the way to her car and tells
about a kid hitting him in the head with a board.
When we kiss good-bye, she cries and
says, “Be kind to him.”
The more seniors who graduate, the better an underclassman’s chances
of getting a girlfriend. One February night in my junior year,
Andrea and I sat at the lifeguard stand at Little Solana,
high winter tides on the bluff below.
Soft kisses, gentle on her braces that a moment later
hooked on my sweater.
On the chair in my dorm at College of the Siskiyous,
a pink ribbon and a note:
”Bring this back to me if you want. Monica.”
It was two summers before I would have a driver’s license.
I spent July at my Aunt’s on Mission Bay but
not with my Aunt. Under the diving barge,
I held onto a crossbeam and Shira held on to me,
her legs wrapped around me under the water.
Her older sister swam out and said
her father would kill me if
he could swim.
Shira spent the rest of the day on the beach,
crying on a blanket with him.
had a mustache like Omar Shariff’s.
I stayed in the water up to my knees until they left.
Brandon Cesmat is a poet, teacher, and musician living in San Diego County, CA. He is active in California Poets in the Schools, and has won two San Diego Book Awards for poetry – in 2003 for Driven into the Shade, and in 2010 for Light in All Directions, from which this poem is taken. Both were published by Poetic Matrix Press.