Speechless Like Michael Caine


If it’s true that the core of the Milky Way

smells like raspberries and tastes like rum,

as astronomer Arnaud Belloche says,

and if it’s true that every pomegranate

everywhere contains exactly 285 seeds

— or maybe 263 but anyway Kelsey says

they all have the same amount —

and if it’s really true that our earlobes

align perfectly with our nipples, as Katie says,

well then I’m stunned, mouth agape, like

Michael Caine on the set of Batman, struck dumb

upon first sight of Heath Ledger as The Joker.

What’s my first line?  What’s my first line?

Michael Caine, playing Alfred, must have wondered,

fumbling for the line like a poet or like me

when I first saw you, across the room

at a party.  I’d like to say I was cool

like Brando, in Streetcar, “We’ve had this date

from the beginning,” but that would be untrue.

I was tongue-tied, speechless like Michael Caine.

If it’s true that 100,000 Jews escaped Sweden

the night before the Nazis arrived because

citizens with boats rallied to ferry them away

— and why doubt it?  The stars are evidence

that bright lights interrupt the sprawling darkness —

then maybe I can believe that astronomers,

if they squinted hard enough, could see

our love and smell it and taste it and chart it

on the stars, which also predict with some certainty

that you’ll never leave me and we’ll

never leave this miraculous life.




Photo By: Shai Barzilay


About Author

Tom C. Hunley holds degrees from University of Washington, Eastern Washington University, and Florida State University. He is the author of three full-length poetry collections, most recently Octopus (Logan House Press, 2008, Winner of the Holland Prize); five chapbooks, most recently Annoyed Grunt (Imaginary Friend Press, 2012); and two textbooks, most recently The Poetry Gymnasium: 94 Proven Exercises to Shape Your Best Verse (McFarland & Co., Inc., 2012). He has also written for a variety of literary publications such as TriQuarterly, New York Quarterly, Five Points, The Writer, North American Review, New Orleans Review, Rattle, Exquisite Corpse, Verse Daily, The Writer’s Chronicle, Atlanta Review and Poetry Daily. His poems have been featured several times on Garrison Keillor’s NPR program, The Writer’s Almanac. In addition to writing his own poetry and prose, he is the book review editor for Poemeleon and the director/founder of Steel Toe Books. He and his wife, Ralaina, have been married since 1996, and they have three sons. In his spare time he enjoys playing bass guitar.

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