I haven’t posted much poetry here, but I’m collecting pieces for a future chapbook and so it seems like a good time. This particular piece, dealing with the darker aspects of love, will also be part of a project I’m carrying out on my personal Facebook page, called 28 Days of Love. If you’d like to read more musings about love in its various forms, visit me/friend me here.
You were supposed to decode the message behind
my stupid jokes and over-bright laugh. The brash word
“like,” ricocheting around us. I like you. Like you, like you.
Some younger version of myself tap dancing for attention
while this me winces at the acrid need. Why do we want
what we can’t have? Why want for anything
when there is already too much? To cool the crush
I wandered aimlessly through an antique mall, fingers
grazing the remnants of lives already played out. Death
is not the enemy. It leaves a kind of order, a story
that makes sense in retrospect. Cream-colored cameos strung
on velvet cord, 20s-era ukulele banjo, camping guide
to the Badlands rendered in watercolor shades of sunset,
acorn-shaped cookie jar with the faintest whiff of home.
You and your wife and baby daughter are a photograph.
I don’t belong there. I’m an accidental interloper,
the burn of desire racing in ahead of me, carrying my flag.
But no one wants to be the invasive species, creeping
on scales and tendrils, its path marred by destruction.
I don’t picture us in a gilt frame or a time-yellowed album,
our memories twined into a single narrative.
There’s a comfort in cast-off things, occupying the purgatory
of shelves and cabinets, waiting to be found again. Waiting
to be given new meaning. But who would we be, found
by each other, our stories told new? Or just dusted off
and cradled briefly in a palm. Even inanimate objects
know the touch of a sympathetic hand. Requited love
is a ray of light flooding a long-shuttered window.