Reagan Upshaw


The Skeleton Key

Cub Scouts were a bore, parties silly, and playgrounds
Were deserts where hooligans lurked.
You were hopeless at games, but where girls were concerned
You instinctively knew how they worked.
They liked sharing secrets and souls, and no matter
Their quirks individually,
Between butthole and peehole, they all had a keyhole,
And you had a skeleton key.

Though that last bit of knowledge came quite unexpected,
And full comprehension was slow,
The momentous discovery struck like a thunderbolt
Not from above but below.
In the back seats of cars and on living room couches,
Ears cocked for someone who might see,
You learned undetected and swiftly perfected
The use of your skeleton key.

With a rich store of blarney and tight-fitting jeans,
Blue eyes and an impudent grin,
Young lord of the manor, you felt you were home
The moment you let yourself in.
A stand-offish air could add spice to the mixture,
Aloof and yet making a plea,
A wandering loner with a permanent boner
Which served for a skeleton key.

In the Romeo role and with each avid Juliet
Tenderly playing her part,
You had little trouble persuading yourself
That the keyhole ran straight to her heart.
Should tearful fights following cheerful philandering
Cause the hurt lady to flee,
Then let her go, brother, you’ll soon find another
Awaiting your skeleton key.

When passion devolved into passing affairs,
There could be no admission of doubt.
You stuck it out manfully, using your stratagem
Inside of marriage and out.
Content to make do with a cheap imitation
Of love, you could never foresee
That with green years behind you, the future would find you
Alone with your skeleton key.

Yet that was what happened. The mirror at bedtime
Reflects an abandoned old fool,
A roué reduced to half-hearted flirtations,
Now with an untrustworthy tool.
You’re a refugee trapped at the border, betrayed
By your passport to intimacy.
And though it may grieve you, Time shortly will leave you
A skeleton with no key.

Reagan Upshaw is a poet and critic whose writing has appeared in Poets & Writers, the San Francisco Chronicle, Able Muse, and many other publications.