Spanish Ballad by Tony Hoagland

That barista, Mother,
with the dark-roast eyes
and the silver nail
through her left eyebrow,

who pulls the handle
of the espresso machine
with such imperial ennui
– Mom, does she not know

that she is killing me?
I have heard she is a pagan
though of noble family born,
related to the Grossmans of Detroit

or the Shaughnesseys of Darien
– but she is finer that that tribe,
with her dragon-tattooed arms
and her skin as smooth and pale

as the end page of a
vampire novella.
She scares me speechless with desire,
but I would give a million

to see her smile
and even more to tell a joke
that would make her actually
choke in laughter

and send the spray
of that eight-ounce energy drink
uncontrollably bursting
from her beautiful nose.

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