“To the Man I Kissed Sitting on a Sunkist Orange Crate Smoking a Doobie” by Alice Capshaw

Alice Capshaw


is where I buy my groceries—
where an onslaught of folks with a library of high ideals
carry eco-friendly jute bags of peppermint chard, Meyer lemons,
free-range organic eggs produced by happy, healthy hens—
so your old bones jutting from your sleeve
stymied me,
but no, you had human arms just like mine
and wore a blue & gold Warriors t-shirt.
A bauble, a silver dagger hung from each ear;
Your Warriors cap, open for donations, held a Mars bar, a key, a bit of coin.
That Draymond, those triple doubles, he’s dope
We were similar ages and
you told me you had been a Black Panther. 
I told you I was a short order cook, served eggs and grits
to Huey Newton.
Before that I received food stamps, lived in a Quonset hut, 
no indoor plumbing—
I was so poor I felt forsaken
I told you.
My gunnysack sentience
intuited there was more to you than smoke and gin—
so bright, your tremendous smile
lit the parking lot, bounced from the faces of shoppers,
united the sides of a wide crevasse in the blacktop.
Before you everything was blue: my dog had just died
of anal cell cancer. Hideous, he’d never even had sex.
Seeing you made me think of when I had been poor.
Back then I thought poor meant inferior.
I wanted you to know
so much
I touched your face with my lips.
Was his face at least clean? my husband asked.
Your close-eyed bay dog, at your side, growled, barked.

Prompt: “I was given these words: Carrier, Sentient, Bones, Tremendous, Blue, Bay, Gin, Onslaught, Sample, Forsaken, Bobble, Gunnysack, Chard.”

from Rattle #81, Fall 2023
Tribute to Prompt Poems


Alice Capshaw: “Although I have been writing for some time and have my MFA in writing, this was the very first time I was given a prompt and asked to write a poem. I was given the words listed. I was unnerved but writing the poem turned out to be really fun. The poem is from a real experience.”

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