“Be a gentleman, and call me sometime” – a conversation with poet Zoe Claster

by thefeargirls

I recently had the privilege to sit down with poet Zoe Claster. When I first met Zoe in high school she was writing poetry, something that a lot of teen girls do. But Zoe’s poetry is special – it always has been. After running off to Columbia in Chicago, Zoe was able to meet more like-minded and talented Poets and got into the scene. A couple years ago she read me “Gentleman Caller” on the phone and I knew it was gold. Reading it again, or even better, watching the video of Zoe read it, makes my heart flutter every time. She has a way of getting to the real grit of the early stages of love. This poem evokes a lot of different feelings for me, but it hits particularly hard now as I explore the world of dating, one night stands or meeting someone you really connect with – and then nothing comes of it. Without realizing it, Zoe has written a poem and aimed it right at my soul; the soul of a desperately cynical hopeless romantic. — Sophia

Audio Interview:

Zoe’s Live Performance:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egIE0Lg5BAw]

Gentleman Caller 
By Zoe Claster

When you called
There was a disconnect,
As if someone on the other line
Were feeding you dialogue
In a foreign tongue.

And when I tried to mention it,
I could hear your smile
On the other end
As you tried to talk a big game
While throwing words around
The way a monkey throws his own
Dirty deeds.

I know that sometimes
You like to wear
A suit of nonchalance,
And puff out your chest
Like a rooster with criminal intent.

You’re tough. And proud.
But when you shed your skin,
You’re more like
A new born deer
In the middle
Of rush hour traffic.

And that caught me by surprise,
Because I always thought
That tough guys
Saved their rawest moments
For the showers.

I listened for a busy signal
Or a chance to call you back,
Because I had been dressed
In my heavy layers
Of thick skin
That I wear through
Harsh winters
Of heartless love affairs.

Where men use hooks
Made out of formal pleasantries
To tug at the inside of my cheeks
And reel me into their
Late night fantasies.
And I couldn’t stand
Listening to yet another pompous
Answering machine.

But you
Are not like the others.

Sure,

You might have the devil

On your tongue,
But you are the quivering lip
Before the first burst of
Laughter.
And I am stunned,

I am speechless
By the way your hands
Ask permission to touch.

You “please”
And “may I”
The way my curves
Respond to your fingertips
When you trace the cracks in my back,
And I can’t help
But whisper “thank you”
For treating me
Like a pilgrimage
Rather of conquered territory.

Our voices line up
With our limbs
As we wrap around each other
Like a french braid.
We kiss. Hard.
Like you’re trying to
Confess your sins
Into the outline of my mouth
There are no pretenses left
No need for forced language
Filled with remorse
No need to “fake it”

No dial tone.

Later on,
I am left lying
In a bed of stolen covers.
Watching the waves
Underneath your chest
Rise and fall like the calm
Before a storm

You say “come here”
And throw me across your body
Like a puppet
With no strings attached.

You harken me back
To a time of housewives
Who let their hair down
For the gentleman
Who calls her by her real name.

And maybe,

Maybe later on

We’d laugh the sun awake.

And maybe,

I’d cook breakfast
In a slip dress
While coiling the curly wire

Of the landline
In between my fingertips

Knowing that this:

This is a conversation.

I am yours.
All encompassed.
Just because you asked nicely.

Just because,
You remind me of the buried notion
That chivalry might not be dead
But instead has shitty reception.

I know you don’t like the use the phone much,

But if you get a chance

Be a gentleman

And call me sometime.

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