Write what you know, all the experts say.
But my level of knowledge, let alone understanding,
of the subject at hand is about as low as
one can feel when you don’t feel any love.
Those fancy lovers (and lovers of letters)
who believe they know all the ins and outs
of that “o” and “e”, all the angles of
that “L” and “V,” only know what they know.
Me? What I know of love could best be described,
though I’d never deign to proclaim “defined,”
as a mushy melange of obsession, possession,
with a strong dash of protection, chased by a swig
of rejection stirred with a sprig of depression.
And yet I write all these poems in which you
feel we are sharing a sense of that thing
I’ve never understood, but maybe felt once
or twice. I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to you,
On Day 21 of the April Poem-a-Day promenade, I’ve been charged with writing a “love” poem or an “anti-love” poem. So be it. Here they are, all in one piece.
I suppose I could tell you I missed you
but there never really was someone to miss.
Just idle dreams and strung-together words
that few would see and none would recognize.
But that’s all right, the idea is to purge
these images from an exhausted mind
and a soul tattered and faded by time.
Well, time and times I’d wave it like a flag,
not so much to draw your kind attention,
but perhaps just to show I was alive.
I guess this is living, blinking these nights
into days, and letting the days drift away
like tossing Hope seeds in a desert wind.
So here’s another handful you might catch
if you wish. Every time I think I’ve
tossed out the last of them, some more appear
at the bottom of the bag, something like
a miracle, tiny loaves and fishes
addressed to someone who looks like you looked
when you were the oasis I might miss,
instead of the sirocco I dreamt to.
Shroud of Sadness by Elle Leee
The dolorous shroud again fell on me
after I thought I’d escaped its dark shade.
And, again, it was dropped by a jeune fille,
this time not because of trouble I made.
Well, just a tad, because my love’s so big,
but love’s only a construct made for rhyme.
I figured this out as I tried to dig
up the right word that sounds like rhyme this time.
Losing your love, whether rhyming or not
gutted me like a dull knife in my chest.
And the blood ran from my heart, cold not hot,
so maybe this shroud’s all for the best.
Perhaps you’ll love this poet when he’s dead,
but if I’m just blue, forget what I said.
Yeah, Valentine’s Day always brings out the loser in me. And I’ve always been a better poet of Loss more than Love.
I remember times I thought of calling,
but then stopped short after some reflection.
See, sometimes I get that feel of falling
and can’t help but think about our connection.
Soon, though, I realize my delusion,
which is a step in the right direction.
I’ve always struggled with love’s confusion,
which led to many kinds of rejection.
I sit down and put these thoughts in writing,
which you might think is half-assed projection.
But really it’s my way of inciting
a muse-less artistic resurrection.
So this is my way of self-protection:
poems of love with no real affection.
Just warming up for Valentine’s Day, y’all, with this sonnet that needs a lot of correction.
There’ve been a few I always could make smile,
don’t ask me just how, though God knows I tried.
But, just as often, it was I, shy of guile,
who was left without love. In fact I cried.
I know, who cares about the jester, the fool,
when all I hoped to win was their nearness.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’m such a tool.
This fool wished to be their prince, so fearless.
They’d draw me close, but I wanted nigh to,
a proposition always doomed to fail.
In the end, they’d find others to sigh to,
but those ends weren’t The End of my love tale.
Chasing after Princesses, their faults unseen,
love found me, in the blue eyes of my blind Queen.
Maybe someday we can shelter out of the heat to talk about this thing that binds people together in the way ropes might, or even transplants, like giving one kidney to another. Yeah, that thing. I can’t describe it in any way by which someone else would understand it as I do (or don’t). Some people like that proximity that comes with being tied together, immobilized yet mobile or freely captive with another, feeling their heat, shivering with their cold, sharing the showers and sunshine as if they wear the same skin. They can construe it as “being together,” I guess. Until someday, somehow they cut those cords. I have seen many people walking around still attached to their walking shadow even after he or she has left them, one way or another. Other people can subsume, with proffered permission, the object of their visceral need after searching so long to find that perfect match, one fraught with the minimum amount of rejection, yet, only with diligent aftercare, most likely to keep them alive. They can live on together even after their partner in this organic life no longer can. Yet still, there is always that spectre of rejection, loss, need. The one thing both of these experiences share is how all involved are irreversibly changed by the experience. Maybe it’s the scars they can display or conceal, maybe even from themselves. Maybe it’s the memories of their partner’s touch, both on and within their skin, a heartbeat they feel even as they lie alone at night. But I’m no expert. I’ve walked this earth carrying a platter full of bite-size pieces of my marrow-rich thirteenth rib, like some faceless butler named Adam at a grand party of the interested and disinterested. Some have idly taken one piece just to wrap it in a napkin and toss it in the potted palm. Others have taken it with thanks and thought, “that’s different,” and moved on to bacon-wrapped shrimp. And for others I’ve placed one on their plates, wrapped in wordy ribbons with which they might secure it to themselves like pins for some needy charity. A couple have actually taken them to heart, but I moved on because this is a big room and a server’s duty calls. What do I know? Maybe this is why someday we might sit somewhere, with a batch of iced libation between us. Maybe it’ll be something different that we talk about when we talk about love.
Now that’s a ponderous bit of prose poem or maybe fictional one-sided conversation, free-written around my morning shower. The inspiration was brought to me when I needed it most and I have no idea from where the results come, but I thank my muse that they did. Unless you know Raymond Carver, you won’t recognize the title, though maybe you recognized it without my coming out and saying the word until right before the final period. Perhaps one day I’ll revise this unspoken “thing” for a more concise, or expansive, dive into the phenomenon that touches and changes us all. I chose purple for this note because it is the perfect mix of blood and the blues, both of which are sluggishly coursing through me right now, so I’ve been unsuccessful in giving you something to think (or talk) about. Let’s hope my over-the-transom inspirations cut a few more drops from me soon.
He’d say they were like the links on a chain,
each instance where he fell in love.
Or whatever facsimile of “love” he chased.
But he really didn’t understand true love.
He only knew it in a Webster’s Dictionary sense
that he’d read through the bottom of a tumbler
of pheromones and endorphins on testosterone rocks.
There were a few that rocked him, left him
stunned and aching in the avalanche of their passing.
To them he actually confessed his devotion, his longing,
his “love.” They would nod and then shake their heads No
as they moved on to the next manifestations of their own
understandings of the phenomenon.
Once, one looked back at his shadow, the memory of him
cascading broken and crooked on the debris she left behind,
as he whistled his way upward toward the horizon.
For a moment, she wondered why he always got back up
and tried just once more. As he crested the hill,
on his way to falling again, he shifted a few stones
that bounded down to her feet.
She picked them up, stashed them in her pocket,turned and
went her way, humming a tune she thought she’d heard
On Day #17 of National Poetry Writing Month, I was asked to answer the challenge for a love or anti-love poem. Jeez, must I? So I sat and wrote something that might embody a little of both concepts…perhaps very little. A free write and one of those story-poems that used to flow from me as easy as tapping these keys. Maybe that’s my true love. Maybe there’s still a bit of my Muse’s love left for me.
After lunch, lovely Mary the Secretary
returned to her desk, where a half-dozen
pink and red, foily and doily cards
stood at attention, like gate-mouthed swains,
each proclaiming at least $6.95
of their undying love and devotion.
On the center of her desk, though, lay
a folded sheet of blue-lined notebook paper,
one edge ripped into erstwhile wire-bound,
college-ruled lace. Red ink block letters
spelled out her name, and when she unfolded
the supine note, she saw a heart
and a message ooh-so-neatly written
in the same crimson hand:
I watch you sit alone,
listening to voices on the phone,
ponder if two heartbeats do echo
or mirror-beat as only one that’s let go.
But this is only a dream,
one many nights I’ve seen,
in which I’m not the me
by dawn’s light I see,
but one you’d wish hold you
how you’d want enfold you
on nights it’s your dream to
be held by one who dreams that, too.
At workday’s end, Mary shoved
the phalanx of craft paper professions
of infatuation into the wastebasket
beneath her desk. But she once more
read a note on her desk, gently folded it
and slipped into her purse.
With a winsome smile, she bustled
toward the door, idly saying “Good night”
to Just Jane two desks over.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Jane said,
as she waved and ducked back to filling
her spreadsheets. Mary never noticed
the red on Just Jane’s blushing cheeks,
nor the same color ink on her fingers.
Here’s the first of 2018’s Valentine’s Day (or anti-Valentine’s Day) poems/stories. In about thirty minutes, this one bloomed like a hothouse rose. It’s no American beauty, but it’ll do in a pinch. More to come in this year’s bouquet. (I hope.)
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen – Torn Notebook
“Fill your paper with the breathings
of your heart.” ~ William Wordsworth
I’ve hidden some dog-eared
notebooks on the bottoms of
my desk drawers into which
I’ve opened a vein and gushed
the contents of my heart
to you like a mooning teen
would in his spiral-bound journal,
his unrequited sighs tearing
at the pages, making a break
for it over the wire.
Hands smudged bloody with ink,
we each pen our own
Twenty Love Poems
and a Song of Despair.
The pages pulse with heartfelt
exhalations and exultations
to someone we never could outright
tell how they make our hearts quicken,
criss-crossing white dreamscapes
with blue blood trails.
This week’s first-draft poem in response to Annie Fuller’s Writing Outside the Lines Challenge prompt. It’s that quote from William Wordsworth at the top of the poem. It filled my paper with poetic panting in quick order. The short story to go along with the prompt, however, might take a little more time.
It is a painful thing can we do
to one another, this coexistence,
this dissonant linking of one
with a different kind of other,
this trust-but-verify alliance
of two souls who would love to be
in the state of this painful thing
we can do to one another,
Maybe opposites do attract,
clanging together with a magnetic
melding of positive to negative,
hard to pull apart, though
easily turned to repulsion
with just one turned back.
It is a healing thing we do
to one another when we lie
side by side, my positive
by yours, negatives turned
upside-down, out of sight
under the covers.
All that’s required to maintain
this alignment of sacred coexistence
is a harmonious linking, a common
face-to-face faith of soul-to-soul,
where heart-to-heart beat soft
against one another, holding, healing,
loving so strong it hurts.