Knocking at an Open Door

     Hail Muse! et cetera.

I have taken a new lover
     named Michael
     an archangel of a fable
     a tryst whose fate I play like a brother’s
     as if my name was Parker

Onto the table and under
     little glances, one is able
     to lift his chances if he plays, bothers
     to lick the window after

Desiring, covets to conquer
     part of me, buying up each hour
     passing us, those indefatigable
     lengths left seeding each other

But Michael, he can foresee our
     defeat so
     he passes out impossible
     hands, dealing with what gamblers encounter
     addiction; to my artful

Relief, this sneak angel wagers
     his head—not
     his heart—not unsafe, but made for
     danger, since thoughts so often take from their
     chambers bullets sought after

Slick ammunition of wisdom
     sitting in
     a bowl, his fictions all laid out
     telling what his poker face hides no more
     that he knows nothing that’s worth

Sharing, except for three letters
     not much else
     since words make uncomfortable
     academics ignorant of pleasure
     and so I flush him, forward

In showing my hand, he lowers
     his halo
     which raises my expectations
     of his sinning, since lord knows we’ve both been
     knocking at an open door.

1Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto III, stanza 1, line 1. Byron found his satirical niche by appropriating ottava rima—a then-already-forgotten meter from Italian Renaissance ballads he admired. Using its brevity for his epic mock-heroic masterpiece, Don Juan, he attacked the British Empire, Western civilization, and Don Juan’s legend while waxing introspectively on fame and writing itself—writing himself—depicting an introverted Lothario victimized by his lovers and admirers. Byron’s comic critique of hypocrisy made his publisher nervous, such that it sold in anonymous installments and ended Byron’s career-long relationship with John Murray’s firm. Certain the form best wed his incisive wit to its lyrical rhythm, so confident was Byron the celebrity, that he defiantly opened its third canto by shirking the poetic tradition of invoking divine inspiration. First published in Don Juan, Cantos III, IV, and V. London: Printed by Thomas Davison, Whitefriars [for John Murray], 1821; page B2.