Home > Poetry > Flirtation
Published: Sun Jul 1 2007
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

Such sweet nonsense,
_                _riding the periphery. Billy
Shakespeare (at risk
of offending the court)

_                              _so toyed
with cadences and speech: Act
_               _Four, Scene Four of Henry V—
see Pistol’s threat
to “firk” a French lieutenant.

To firk, to fuck, to flirt:
to rap or flick about, seeking
_                              _covenant,
which implies a degree
of proximity,

_           _ though understand
comes from “nter”
not the usual “under” but between
as when caught

_               _in a hard place,
the novelist agrees not to risk
public scrutiny,
_                                _substituting F-U-G
for that most primitive
act, to which

upon meeting him at a party
the poet scoffs,

So you’re the man who can’t spell

FUCK! Such restlessness
_             _ comes from need. Such play
in desire. Flirt is a verb,

a state of being; a noun meaning

“stroke of wit”: what are we
in the end, if not

an experiment_—_a man
_               _who stands, framing the doorway,
mid-attempt to nail

his best friend’s wife? He is
_                              _dumbstruck
by her pupils, nipples, hips, but

in the smoke-filled margin
of that NY apartment
_               _pretends to listen as she speaks,
nodding yes, no, yes, yes

notice his half-ambiguous
_               _ quick-step, her intermittent
dash…in what’s unsaid
between them, the talking,
_                              _ and the talking back.

Shara Lessley is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford. Her awards include the Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship from Colgate University, the 2006 Discovery/_The Nation _prize, and the 2007 Moondancer Fellowship from The Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow. Shara’s poems have appeared in The Kenyon ReviewThe Threepenny ReviewThe Southeast ReviewThe NationBlackbirdGulf Coast, and elsewhere. (updated 8/2007)

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