Richard Peabody



The other woman can be
a blonde or a redhead
but the other man
is always French.

He dresses better
than I ever will.

He can picnic
and stroll
with a wineglass
in one upraised hand.

Munch pate,
drink espresso,
and tempt with
ashy kisses.

He hangs out
at Dupont Circle
because the trees
remind him of Paris.

Did I mention sex?

Face it--
he's had centuries
of practice.

I'm an American.
What do I know?

He drives a fast car,
and can brood like
nobody's business,
while I sit home
watching ESPN.

He's tall and
chats about art--
I don't even want
to discuss that accent.

He's Mr. Attitude.

My fantasy is to call
the State Department
and have him deported.

Only he'll probably
convince you to marry him
for a green card.

No way I'm going to win--
the other man is
always more aggressive,
always more attentive.

The other man
is just too French
for words.

From now on
I'm going out
with statuesque German women

so next time we run
into each other
they can kick his butt
for me.

Leaving Home
(sculpture) curly willow, found door,
Harry Lauder's walking stick, found metal, leaves,
linen plywood, 90" x 55" x 36", (1996)
more work by Martha Tabor




No amount of spinach
does the trick

Cartoons lie to me
on a daily basis



Some people like turpentine.
And while I'll admit to a
true love of spray paint
(I can always be counted on
to glue scale models together)
and strong infatuation with gasoline
(Oh that's okay honey,
let me pump this time),
right now,
hovering over the kitchen sink
the heady smell of chlorine
is what my German blood craves--
mixing Clorox and ammonia
like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Wondering why swimming pools
aren't fatal to small children.
Or do we, like mosquitoes,
just grow immune as we get older?
My head aches and the room is
doing your basic stutter dance.
Ahh this is the life--
my cups are whiter,
my sink is brighter.
I have this friend
who puts herself to sleep
every night by painting
the inside of her head white.
When she says this I imagine
tiny robot cartoon brushes.
My way is so much easier.
The chlorine dances
and so do I.



You wish just this once
the mirror would lie.
What was the barber
thinking about?
You felt ridiculous enough
carrying a Peter Gabriel
album into the shop--
visual aids never help.
You clip away with
nail scissors
and soon it looks even worse.
Conservative, square,
totally hopeless,
as though the ones
who cut hair were
really Martians with
only a rudimentary
idea of what humans
are supposed to look like.
Hair like topographic maps,
tv antenna, inverted
umbrellas, poodle dogs...
or else the great hair
disaster of Krakatoa--
poking out in
so many directions
that only the
end of the world
will make you feel
at all fashionable.



A wealth of new continents.
These bruisescapes erupting
all over your perfect skin.

Upper Ruddle.
Northern Aggregation.

Yellow centers radiate reddish edges,
the color of rotting tomatoes,
the purple and black of ripening eggplant,
or black-stem spleenwort.

Southern Aggregation.
The Gravel Islands.

I can stretch my thumb and index finger
to make a compass and figure
how many days sail are required
to reach these new configurations.


Every day brings some new land mass
or discovery. The damage you do
to yourself way beyond the
call of duty.


Somewhere, tiny new explorers
prepare to dare uncharted waters,
to sail for silks and spices.
A northwest passage for the soul.



Richard Peabody wears many literary hats. He is editor of Gargoyle Magazine (founded in 1976), and has published a novella, two books of short stories, five books of poems, and co-edited six anthologies with Lucinda Ebersole, including Mondo Barbie, Mondo Elvis, Mondo James Dean, Coming to Terms: A Literary Response to Abortion, and the forthcoming Sex & Chocolate. He also edited A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation for Serpent's Tail in 1997. In the Spring of 2003 Volcanic Ash Press plans to reprint his first two out of print books of poems, I'm in Love with the Morton Salt Girl and Echt & Ersatz (complete in one volume), followed that fall by his new collection entitled Mercy Beat. His latest chapbook of poems, Rain Flowers, is an ahadada online publication, at Peabody teaches fiction writing at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD and in the Johns Hopkins Advanced Studies Program. He lives in Arlington, VA.

Published in Volume 4, Number 1, Winter 2003.


To read more by this author:
Richard Peabody: DC Places Issue
Three DC Editors: Profiles of Caresse Crosby, William F. Clare, and Merrill Leffler, by Richard Peabody (The Profiles Issue)
Richard Peabody: Audio Issue