The Desired Effect

by Alan King

You forgot the lamppost
that lit you like a diva, when
I surprised you with a bouquet
of long-stemmed, white lips.

You don’t recall the restaurant
where both of us laughed while
you fanned your lips bitten

by spicy curry channa.
I’ll never understand what makes
a woman forget those things,
and go out of her way to avoid me

on the streets as if I were
panhandling for her attention;
as if you weren’t the one
who left town for a week,

came back and only called
when you needed help
rearranging furniture.

Yet, when you walked past
the bookstore with a new man,
and saw me inside gawking,
you smiled.


Alan King‘s fiction and poems have appeared in the Arabesques Review, Warpland, The Amistad, and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS, among others. A Cave Canem fellow and Vona Alum, his work was also part of Anacostia Exposed, a collaborative exhibit with Irish photographer Mervyn Smyth that showcases the life and energy of Anacostia.

Back to Issue Two: Winter 2009