To hide from the rain, my friend, Pete, and I drank beer at the 19 on 15th west.
The windows are taped with black paper from back in ’52,
an old man there once told me, when it was the only gay bar in Minneapolis
“Why this place?” Pete asked, “You and Lauren go here, right?”
I told him it was because the men desire each other, so they leave the women in peace
“I wish I had that problem,” he sighed, “Men never do.”
“You’re lucky,” I told him, “because those men don’t even know the easiest parts of you
like being liberal or left-handed or liking Bob Dylan. At worst, you’re a warm hole,
which is grossly disturbing. At best, it’s as absurd as someone liking you for your liver.”
He asked if there was a way to seduce a woman without turning the world misandristic
“Well,” I thought for a minute, “sex is easy enough for a woman to get,
provided she has some illusion of gracefulness and her standards aren’t impossible.
So at least, if you have to try seduction, give her a small benefit of the doubt
to assume that she’s really looking for love.”
“Now that you have love,” he asked, “what do you want?”
A ruler lay across the wall with 0 through 48 lining its sides in opposite directions while Dave leaned against the corner scaling guitar strings back and forth to C and D minor.
“Every five integers from 48,” I said, “share a common number, you know, equidistance from its negative by factors of five.”
“So?” he said. Slowly down to the C string.
“So there must be such a simple equation, not for 48 alone, but to find the factor of difference in any equidistant positive and negative integer.”
He said he had no interest and I asked him how a man with his convictions could be so dismissive of math: “I mean, I know at least a dozen people that could write a damn good creation story, but that doesn’t convince me of divinity half as much as numbers do.”
“I didn’t know you were convinced.”
“You’ve been reading Descartes, haven’t you?”
He tells me about the pure path of glucose through the red blood cells
bleeding out from the heart to the tips of the fingers
Up again to D minor. “That,” he says, “is perfection of a system.”
“But then you die.”
“All the more convincing.”
Pete says he wouldn’t want what I have, this conflict
“Like when you and I were together,” he notes proudly, “we never fought. Not once!
In 4 years!”
“Yes, but then I left.”
Pete supposes he wants that again, but without the leaving part
He wants his perfect equal, their bodies separated at zero
the factor that binds them connecting them through space
stirred suddenly by their certain number—
the minutes it takes her to brush her hair
is the number of steps he takes to walk across the room
or the hundredths of seconds it takes for their blood cells to course
upward to the brain
to trigger responses
in the beat of their systems