THURSDAY: Leading Questions


Copyright is held by the author.

Two seats in front of me, the young man has nice eyes.
I would tell him, but last year Robert replied,
I have a girlfriend, as though my words were invitation,
as though my Malibu Hemp®-scented body at his door
beckoned for some clandestine lunge
of body rub and all night little deaths.
He memorizes Franklin Park intently,

this young man with nice eyes.
I long to tell him but for LT with his beautiful black
eyes fixed on computer screens
long after we had proven that code works
and the team had gone to Arlington Cafe.
You going?  I asked, coat on arm,
laptop packed, and LT said, What?
Oh, I have a girlfriend.

I think how wonderful the world must look
through gray circled by lustrous brown, young eyes
fascinated by sights passing our COTA bus
but cannot say You have nice eyes lest it seem
wrapped in invitation like an egg roll full of estrogen,
dripping from its heated end and waiting
patiently to be consumed. I long to scream into a stranger’s ears: Hey, you. 
You have nice eyes
andtell him not to get me wrong. 
To think of ice, think of cold days in December,to wait a moment here before he speaks,take the compliment and tuck it where he canremember years from now when an unassuming coworker tells him something honest in a momentthat some strange woman on a bus once told him also.


Rose M. Smith’s work has appeared in The Examined Life, Snapdragon, Origina, Halfway Down the Stairs, and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of four chapbooks, most recently Holes in My Teeth (Kattywompus Press, 2016), and one full-length collection, Unearthing Ida, which won the Lyrebird Prize at Glass Lyre Press in 2019. Pre-Covid, she sometimes commuted into the city to my day job, observing people and the unending changes to the landscapes of the city. This poem was born on a crowded bus.