Nimis Compos Mentis

By Leslie Monsour b. 1948 Leslie Monsour

(Too sound of mind)

The paper table cloth was tastefully bleak,
The misty morning light shone on his cheek,
And made him look alone and masculine.

He talked of Seneca and bad translations,
Of modern critics' lightweight observations;
A bread crumb rested sweetly on his chin.

Behind him, through the glass, the ocean's heave
Uncurled against the sand, beside his sleeve,
As Eros aimed his toxic javelin.

I ducked out of the way, to no avail;
It glanced my flesh, injecting quite a cocktail
That blurred my sight and caused my head to spin—

Never mind the coffee we were drinking,
Whatever I said was not what I was thinking.
I wanted to become his mandolin,

And lie across his lap, a dainty lute,
And sing to him and feed him ripened fruit,
While light upon the sea turned opaline.

Instead, this conversation about art
And formal education—God, he's smart!
Such rationality should be a sin.

The hour was up, he had to run, of course;
A handshake and a peck of shy remorse—
Outside, the sea was gray and dull as tin;
It ruled the shore with tedious discipline.

Source: Poetry (July 1999).

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This poem originally appeared in the July 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

July 1999
 Leslie  Monsour

Biography

 
Poet Leslie Monsour was born in Hollywood, California, but grew up in Mexico City, Chicago, and Panama. She attended Scripps College in Claremont, California, and the Canal Zone College in Panama, and earned a BA in English literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she also minored in Hispanic literature. She is the author of the letterpress edition Indelibility (1999); the chapbooks Earth’s Beauty, Desire, . . .

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Poems by Leslie Monsour

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Love, Desire, Unrequited Love

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Villanelle

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