Speaking Suave to Unknown Women – by Jonathan Lawrence

is not in my lexicon.
I cling to numb, take sips
with the barflies on a weekday,

words caught in my windpipe like a hose’s
kink. I want to speak how honeysuckle
looks like yellow tears,

how I’ve been straining under
grief enough to drown in muddy creeks.
The idea of a man: beard thick,

words cocked to baritone bullets,
mouth the barrel and wound,
broken softness in barrage sharp

as grandfather’s pronged belt to the back.
I shovel ashes in hopes
something will bloom

bright when my lips open.
My breath reverts:
women as commodity,

pressure to alight these soaked words
like ore in a smelter, extract a transaction
while I finger a glass.

Outside she’s looking at lilacs
petaling themselves in the wind,
puts a planter wildflower

to her teeth like a toothpick.
Walks from this dive, her sundress
brighter than men’s eyes,

the words hammered out of them.


Jonathan Lawrence currently teaches high school English and Creative Writing in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He received an MFA in Creative Writing at the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Wilkes University. His poetry and reviews have been published in Newfound, American Writers Review, The Bangalore Review, and Moonstone Press.