February 1, 2012

We made mad love
shadow love
random love
and abandoned love

Christodoulos Panayiotou, Never Land (detail), 2008

No Home-Wrecker
-- Denise Duhamel

When I was twenty, I kissed a man
much older than I was. My drunk hand found
a strange indent and lump of flesh
on the back of his waist, an extra little potbelly.
I quickly moved my fingers away and grabbed
onto his shoulder instead. After the kiss,
the man immediately told me he was married. For years
my memory had it that I slapped him and left the party,
a friend's cramped Beacon Hill apartment.
But now I think what happened
is that he began to cry, just slightly, so that at first
I thought his wet eyes had something to do with an allergy.
Then he said he really loved his wife and needed
air. We took baby steps, holding hands,
through the slippery cobblestone streets,
snow settling on my eyelashes, in his beard.
We slipped into a diner where our coats and scarves
dripped puddles onto the floor.
He told me a long story about married life--
her chemotherapy, how he'd just lost his job.
I sobered up and looked at my plate of pale scrambled eggs,
what I imagined cancer looked like,
what I imagined fat looked like under the skin.
I poked my fork around, curious
to see that spare tire, that love handle of his.
He kept blowing his nose, his cheeks fat and pink
like the soles of a newborn's feet.
The rest of him looked lean in his wooly sweater,
then he seemed to shrink even smaller
as he put back on his oversized overcoat to walk me home.
I felt rejected when he left me at my door
and disappeared into a flurry, thanking me for listening.
The story I told my friends who were at the party
was that OK, he was kind of cute, but I was
no home-wrecker. The story I told myself
was that I'd have never done anything like that--
his wife had cancer for god's sake.
Now that I look back, the man was probably only
in his late thirties, about the age I am now.
He had no money so I wound up covering our diner check,
emptying the last of my change on the table for too small a tip.

Seen You Around
-- by Hal Sirowitz

Each time I've come to this bar,
she said, I've seen you here.
You look like you come here often.
You must be having trouble finding
a steady girlfriend. I hope you
don't think I'm being critical.
I can't find a partner either.
I go to different bars, so it isn't as obvious.

-- by Jack Micheline

I chose the whippoorwill
The imaginary throne of ego madness of fantasy land
I chose the herringbone
I chose the waitress at Tina's
I chose chasing pussy over a bank account
I chose poetry over standing in line at the opera
I chose art just to kick the dark devil in the ass forever
I chose pain and torture because I'm a masochist
I chose alcohol and cigarettes over 9 grain cereal
Sublime destiny over mediocrity
Like Darwin I chose the monkey over man
I chose the harmonica over the harpsichord
I chose Superwoman over Betty Grable
I chose the safety of failure over the Winner's Circle


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