The first time

I read this at the final student reading at my third Drew residency. It felt so good to speak it, to inhabit it, that I know the poem is done, after many many drafts and re-visions.

The first time,

in the Rittenhouse Radisson, was to
be crazy hot, me and her and her girl-
friend who even then was hiding the blood
she coughed up. I kissed one and then the other,
the first time, when we still worried about
jealousy. The first time she hid her blood-
stained panties in the tangled sheets for the
first time. She howled and whooped, each hand deep in
a competing cunt, the first time, three days
after the report said melanoma.
We were innocent, the first time. We had
more hands than Kali but not enough to
shield liver and lungs and spine. The first time
we had a great time, time we would not have.