Kristen Gleason


A Roman man won’t peddle nonsense, nor will he tolerate things trivial. Put to bed your smaller concerns: symbol or object, red or black, fly or drive. Gather indicators of your wholesome nature. Wear these like lighted strings and twirl, do. He enjoys whimsy, though he can’t join in. Remember your parents and your cousin; the Roman man abhors a forked branch. He walks in plain shoes bearing his mark. Should he choose you, the mark will change.

Be prepared to visit fine neighborhoods on the arm of a Roman man. Visit, but do not insist on staying. Don’t insist on a night in “the sweet room near the garden.” During the day, he tends that garden – on his knees. You mustn’t be an old lady making him sleep near his work. Instead, show him a pillow beneath a manzanita. He’ll kneel to dry his knees, and when he does, you can test the red bark with your cheek: smooth.

When parting company with a Roman man, sit quietly by the fountain. If you display reluctance, he will marry a woman from Japan. If, however, you give him a gentle shove, two years later he’ll return on the city bus. The driver will blast the signal. A cloud of flies will zip him up the line and into your bedroom window. Straight through a pane of glass, he’ll tumble, nary a scratch on his fine Roman nose.

A Roman man anticipates the death of his brother. High on a hill is a bench where he prefers to slouch. Bore him with the retelling of your dream, and so divert him from his own. Speak of a stone monument in the desert. Call it the Wind Eye. Ascribe to the whole a most obvious meaning. Lower the grate over death when it comes, so that from the street it appears to be closed.

Dear reader: what advantage do you seek? If you are frequently called talented, surely, you can find your way forward alone. There are others of us, more retiring, who might require the wide thumb of a Roman man. There are others of us who require a deep pressing. You are being selfish. You who could survive a slow poisoning – you are greedily gathering surplus. Look elsewhere.

The Etruscan man sees the world through a narrow shunt. Do not inquire as to its origin; smell the thing. Dress in shades of metal, and flit across his circle. Make him spin. Make him into a periscope. How he loves to search the horizon! Presage touch with the prick of a needle. Not requiring affection, he will not offer it, but there are ways. Become a flag and wave your color. Claim a place on your body, and his hand will come to claim it back.

Bare-chested, the Etruscan man will take you to a film. Keep your reservations to yourself. In the magic of the dark, he’ll become the film star you see on the screen – a French child in glasses. Hand in hand with that child, you’ll exit the theatre. Do not be a mother to him. Give him glimpses of your palm. Misbehave into the back of a police car. There are sounds in leather only men can hear. Shift in your seat to call the Etruscan back. Somewhere the boy will fall sleep again.

Each evening’s end takes the Etruscan man by surprise. Leave him quickly, and his friends will say you’ve escaped. He’ll run a stop sign through a wide oak tree before he sets up camp. In the morning, he’ll take a draught of air and call it poison. You will not have existed. Take it slow, do. Toss just a handful of dirt on the fire. In his locket is an insect made of hair, and there’s space enough for your fingertip there, should you choose to leave it behind.

The Etruscan man has been warned – overly. Nothing will do but four hexagonal chains around his wallet. Drape those chains about your shoulders and say “how light.” Manage two household tasks at once. Build furniture from bone-piles, and beckon gangsters to dinner. Seated so, at the table with danger, the Etruscan man will forget. All he feared stolen he will proffer his guests: his bike, his camera, his rarest map.

Dear reader: find out what measure you are in. Discover the true course of your ambition. Must you sniff around here for inspiration? If you’re picking from the bowl of grapes, you’ve got a partner. However ill, he is better for your future than the Estruscan man. There are too many symbols on your tent, and you have lived through many victories. Now you conquer only abstraction. You take from the slow what they cannot own by knowing. Look elsewhere.

Kristen Gleason lives in Montana. Her work appears in Fan of Michael Jackson, I Miss You, Michael Jackson, Always Remember Michael Jackson, RIP Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson RIP (We Miss You), MICHAEL JACKSON, R.I.P. Michael Jackson, We Love You.


  1. Kristen Jean,

    You have the grace of a child with a beehive. I love you, and miss you, too.


  2. I love this so much it's going to kill me.

  3. I misspoke the first time: I love this more than I love God, and since I think He'll forgive me, it won't kill me.

  4. Hooray for forgiveness! And Beets!

  5. forgiveness, beets and deers, here