Oyster Boy Review 18  
  Winter 2003–4
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» Levee 67


In Pursuit of What Happiness There Is

Robert McDonald

One day you wake to find yourself the Casanova of Argyle Avenue,
having pursued happiness with volunteers, the shifts invariably
late at night—outcalls,
or home visits on your mean bed,
a futon on the floor, become for a handspan of minutes a bower,
psychic rose petals, the wordless utterance, and your tongue
along the bridge of a collarbone, your lips tip-toeing

on a chest, a taut neck, like a teenager entering the house
after curfew, waiting for the hallway light to click on—
one day you wake, sure that the flock of grackles next door
are gossiping about you, those fatties perched
in the apple trees like drunks on barstools; in the same way
the barbecued ducks on hooks (coquettes
glancing over their blood-red shoulders), the dank snagged caps

of the octopi, the splayed piglets in the Vietnamese butcher's window
on Argyle Avenue, in the same way they proclaim
one use of flesh is consumption, you declare
that one advantage to promiscuity is the graduation
of joy, pomp and groan and circum-
stance, all the grades of pleasure with no one held back—look
out the window, and isn't the snow falling? Sequins

under the streetlight. Breathe deeply. Doesn't your room
smell of socks, and vanilla, cucumber, mud,
a recently snuffed candle? Add up your lovers,
face by face. The doves (or are they
pigeons) startled, circling
round and round
the courtyard.