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     The Literary Review
                                                                          Issue 8

Page 80

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         The pool of available women increases as men grow older
         The pool of available men decreases as women age

I am swimming in a nearly empty pool
or so the statisticians say, counting heads
There are a few for me
though they are mostly gray
and turned on by what I used to be.
Standing at the water’s edge
they splash and drip
and talk about their IRA
the trip to Florida to visit the condo
their tennis game (as good as ever)
And did I know I’m just about the oldest gal they date?
And did I hear the latest findings
that the male sex hits its prime at fifty-eight?
I am swimming in a nearly empty pool
The old men bob and weave
and it is turning dusk and cold
perhaps it’s time for me to leave.

  Toby Devens__

Flo at Ninety

She cut her hair last month to celebrate.
Free at last of the slavery of the hot comb.
Her grandfather was Cherokee and her sister has his hair,
good hair Earlinda says (she always was a spiteful brat)
but Flo knows hers is better, more character
specially now it springs like wild grass and she leaves it untamed
heart and hair.
You wouldn’t think it but wild still grows within her. Wild and joyful.
What does she fret about at this stage?
All that dark brooding is burnt off
(She can smell the singeing and it smells like hickory.
Or is that victory?)
So that what is left are little nubs of hard concern:
Her son who is losing weight too fast
Her grandson who will not marry
Her great-granddaughter with too many choices.
Even worry gets ashy with time and
Flo flicks it off as if it was just the tip of one of those
Sweet Caporals she smoked at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom in ’38.
That was when she was young and in love
As if now she is not and out of it.

  Toby Devens__

The Married Lover

Lessons unlearned on vivid afternoons
One thigh length away
Your great hand strokes splendid, breath-held strokes
I turn my shoulder
thinking no again, no again,
no no no
My unconscionable need pulls a grafting wound
an itch, slipped stitches skin to skin
I will not let you in, I will not let you in, I will not let you in
You are in.
And out.
My minute visitor
The flower caddy
The wine purveyor
The great dictator of words as soft as sin
The interlocutor of greed
The master of the slippery line
The pleasure is always yours, my married majesty,
And sometimes mine
But consequences—that mean red bottom line—
Are always solely mine.

  Toby Devens__