Not that anybody’s ever going to see it now
but in my very first passport photo
I look like the kind of young man
whom a West German customs official
would have been trained to stare long and hard at,
the eyes, gunmetal grey and the hair
like a metaphor for the mind,
a long and flowing mist,
a guy whose name might be likely to feature
on a government’s most wanted list.
Ten years later, things have changed, love
has clearly been and left what even
those guys you get at La Guardia
would have seen straight away presented no threat,
the hair a little bit shorter, the eyes
exposed to doubt, the face more flesh
than geist and above all else the kind of smile
which I have clearly had difficulty giving
in full like I’m thinking, perhaps,
that it might be a waste or not completely cool.
A lot less flesh than flash, like the speed
at which the years have passed have left me
a little bit stunned, this latest passport photo
looks, all of a sudden, nothing like me.
It’s laughable! What am I doing in color?
My eyes no longer grey? And the hair? Where is it?
It’s as if every border I’ve passed through,
every damned port I’ve been stuck in
has taken an inordinate pleasure in stamping out
that young man, who looked like he could kill.