Cleo and Hal Visit Milan

Francine Rubin

“You are not context sensitive,” I tell Hal.
The Milano Opera House shines like an earthly palace
in the yellow sunlight.
I say, “the way you walk, slouching your shoulders
and bobbing up and down like a pigeon
is invasive.”

He is embarrassingly gauche,
skin pale and dead-looking against an orange
t-shirt, while the Milano men are stallions
in leather among the rows of lime and pine trees.
“You spent 500,000 lira on a fur coat —
that's 300 sloobs,” he says.

The limes look like sloobs:
thousands and thousands of sloobs
dotting the fragrant trees, and I imagine
grabbing them from the boughs.
In my mind's eye
I inspect one of the lime-sloobs:
a pale green bauble
that fits perfectly in my palm.

I snap: “You spent 500 sloobs
on a gargantuan icebox and hideous
puce chairs.”     Hal's face before me,
lines and course bumps
a topographical map:
I can see it fossilize,
never shaping something beautiful,
one more ugly thing, unchangeable.

Francine Rubin's poetry has appeared in Blue Earth Review, Cavalier Literary Couture, Fringe Magazine, Fuselit, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, Long Island Pulse, Ozone Park Journal, Pank, and Rougarou. An English teacher, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College and an MA in English Education from Columbia University.