Joseph O. Legaspi

The Kisser’s Handbook (The Sensitive Male Chapter)

A peck is a red poppy.
Several is a bird feeding on your hand.
The first kiss is the customary rose given,
a bouquet received by two.
On the right side of her mouth, she is your mother.
On the left side, she’s the sister you never had.
A simmering moist kiss is cherry pie.
Awkward and dry is love;
If delicate yet firm, a kiss is Ophelia’s resuscitation from drowning;
Hurried and open-mouthed, moths flutter out of her body.
A kiss that glides smoothly has the pleasant lightness of tea.
If it smudges, prepare yourself for children.
A kiss that roams the curving of the lips,
the tongue still tracing the slopes
even without her near is a poet’s muse.
When bitten on the lower lip—I am your peach
and if she is left there biting, dangling, she’ll burn the tree.
When she’s sucking your lips as if through a straw
she wants you in her.
Never quite touching, lips bridged
by warm clouds of breath, speak in recitation:
Because I am the ocean in which she cannot swim,
my lover turned into the sea
Or, cradle her in the cushions of your lips
and let her sleep, lovingly, in the pink.

Joseph O. Legaspi
“The Kisser’s Handbook (The Sensitive Male Chapter)” first appeared in Seneca Review, vol. XXVI, #2 (Fall ’96).