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BOOKS & THE CULTURE Lover Man Proclaims Himself Too Heartsick to Continue the Business of Saving the City As if the name itself didn’t put enough pressure on him there were also the winter girls in cotton leggings and Rosaline with her vows of chastity. Carrying petals in a velvet pouch in case he must strew them on a bed, he finds the saddest buildings to lean against, practices his deep sighing. When is he to find the time to learn French? And then Valentine’s Day, with the impossible bulgings of red and pink. How could he help it, really, with those piles of lingerie women kept throwing to him as he flew off after the saving? What he wants to do now is climb balconies again, search for someone with a name that sounds beautiful when whispered: Elizabeth or Isolde. Wonder Man’s Sidekick Tries To Pick Up A Woman On His Own Showing off mirth with a practiced toss of a too-short cape, he sits down next to Second Prettiest, orders her a mint julep just to watch her drink it. The bartender’s out of mint leaves, so there’s a sprig of parsley floating in her whiskey and already he can see that this is what she’s used to, sees she’s not even trying to be a class act and with her eyes on Prettiest across the room, can never deliver the punch line. What he wants is to be where she is when she closes her eyes to kiss him. Already he can see the end of this but knows that even Third or Fourth would be enough to break his heart tonight, knows that the climax of it all will come too soon, and after this girl he’ll be back to the same bar, same search, same second-rate sadness. Barbara Griest-Devora Barbara Griest-Devora teaches English at Northwest Vista College on the far western forested rim of San Antonio. Her poems have appeared in Borderlands and Spoon River Poetry Review, among other places. These two poems are part of a series examining superheroes and heroines. Naomi Shihab Nye 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 6, 2000