Call Me Baby: A Poem by Joseph Lezza

Chewed No 2 Pencil
Photo by Kim Gorga on Unsplash

Call Me Baby

Because of the way that guy
at Six26 touched my hip
as he was trying to
to get to the bar.

Because of the way that other
guy lifted me up on the pier
at the South Street Seaport and said
“You’re not average build.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever
come down. Not fully.

Call me baby
because, though I’ll never
put it on my playlist,
I secretly love
that Amy Grant song.

Because it’s still the kindergarten frolic
and I’m still that No. 2 pencil,
and my hat is an eraser, so
let’s write some new mistakes.

Because I’m also,
somehow, thirty-seven
and my knees are already weak
so half the work is already done.

Call me baby
because, if you call
in the next fifteen minutes
I’ll throw in a free tote bag.

Because, somewhere, I’m crying
at the Hometown Tavern
after that straight boy kissed me.
After he told everyone he would.

Because he knew I wanted it.
Because he knew I’d let him.
Just because he could.

Call me baby
because things are getting iffy
and I don’t know what to make
of the world

or, worse, what it will make
of me.

Call me baby,
and do it outside,
in public,
because, for now, they still let us.

And, do it cool
because my neck is burning
to sweep the surroundings.

And, do it slow
because I want to live in it.

And, do it now
because this deal ends at midnight.

Call me baby. Or babe. Or Bob, even.

Because, if we’re being honest,
I’m not sure anyone ever has.

Call me, baby.

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