Indiscriminate Kisses

By Nance Van Winckel Nance Van Winckel
Foreplay of obscene graffiti carved   
into trees—foot-long boners   
gouge the bark. Beaks and snouts   
on a restroom mirror. Slick lips.   
Succulent lips. I go out among them   
sometimes. So sweet how they pucker up   
out of pity. A practiced pathos   
in a saloon of woodsmen whose axes   
wait in trucks out back. Lips full of yawn   

or yes. Lips thick with God-spit   
and God-suck. Chapped lips, bloody lips.   
Pierced or tattooed, they pout
into view—here to give, willy-nilly,
what's been too long held in the body.
Something passes across tongues. It sayeth not   
a name; it taketh everyone's turn. Mute lips   
of a swift unbuttoner. Mouths fording   
frothy streams, vaporous bogs.   
I stumble forth in their midst. Maybe   
I am out of bread or in a bad place   
with a book. The streets have an attendant
caress. Moon lapping rumor. Fat lip   
approaches hare lip. There go pasty
lips. All are readied as if for a race   
or to be plucked like rare moths   
by bright wings from the air. Betty's lips   
and Bobby's and Bucky's just before the collision
and the siren's red wail. Laddy, keep

a light on. I may have to come ashore
some distance from where I set in.

Source: Poetry (May 2004).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Poetry magazine

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May 2004
 Nance  Van Winckel


Nance Van Winckel’s sixth book of poems, Pacific Walkers (University of Washington Press), and her fourth collection of stories, 
Boneland (Univeristy of Oklahoma Press), were published in 2013.

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Poems by Nance Van Winckel

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