Sometimes lovers enter a relationship with the best of intentions but wind up in a place far from love.
Sometimes poets attempt love poems, simple and pure, but . . .
Over breakfast, a husband trying to deny creeping out on his wife the previous night can’t help but give hints about the creepy things he really did. On a beach, a man minding his own business is accosted by a pretty woman before a strong tide embarrasses them both. A husband and wife debate over what to name a child conceived illicitly. A tone-deaf proposal for marriage ends in murder. A traditionally arranged marriage spins into a deranged and surreal nightmare.
Neither simple nor sweet, these complex poems about love gone sour will stay with you.
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GOING OUT AND IN
We never do that anymore.
Whenever she asks me to
invite her out for an evening
on the town
for dinner and glancing
at others similarly coupled,
is that my eyes and mouth
so tired from talking to
and looking at . . .
she has faded wide away,
in what more I have to say.
the accumulated fades
have produced an inaccurate hate,
(maybe) able to cure a corrupted love
of the cinema, the theater, all of these
and those tragic shows
designed to inculcate desire,
enter-staining the mind
with spiraling blues and greens,
stirring one to envy
stuck in depressing scenes.
At breakfast—every morning,
a similar task—I have to ask, beg over eggs,
for you to please look me in my eyes
and be honest over toast before we part for the day:
me through the garage door, you out through the front.
In the News . . . Forget it, and turn to the Style section,
the word puzzles: How to say “deception” in three letters?
A deceptive word and act, you can fill and end it with “E.X.”
if you refuse to speak with me now.
Questions played—you give one-word replies
preceded and punctuated with a sigh.
“What’s the matter? How do you feel?”
“O.K.” Two letters. Trivia.
Comments made—“I don’t know . . . nothing seems
to fit . . .”—you grunt incomprehensible responses,
And still I hear that you plainly tell your friends
that I never talk, discuss my world with you.
Of course Clara told me.
That note detailing a rendezvous that you found, showed to them,
was composed by one of those confidantes (not me)
to whom you close your eyes and cry
while they laugh
Your friends live, love, exist at cross-purposes.
They tried to divide—their way: With one letter,
push U and I away. What do we owe?
Where’s this trust, those crossed-heart promises?
How can I know what to tell you unless you talk
and are honest with me first?
“I don’t know what bit me,
but one night in bed,
something must’ve crawled
into my ear; and, well, now
as you see,
it’s all swollen.”
She heard this then mumbled something that rhymed with dumb,
I think, and followed it up with ’cuse—(the first syllable
was swallowed)—as she quit her breakfast, stood, and turned to exit
out into the too-secluded, variegated garden. I immediately followed
after finishing my danish and coffee, to stand nearby and observe her
searching for something among the hardly-surviving flowers,
and seeming to find answers, afire, from nowhere.
The adumbrated frustration was too apparent.
I honestly couldn’t say what was wrong
with her. I warned her not to slake any thirsts with the suspect
water during her week-long trip up north, a one-woman vacation
where, perhaps, she happened upon the worst of all possible worlds.
I was wondering if I should ask her candidly as she continued to grumble—
like thunder before a downpour—about rabbits and their habits . . . Never
mind the fact there’ve never been any vegetables in her garden,
which continued to darken during the morning.
A sun-lunatic, finally run crazy by the cheerless and lazy rays?
Assumption number one. Number two on the list was that something
simply came and went, bumping her in one or a few of the nights she was away.
Was she bug-bitten in attempts to get her smitten until she got wise and spent
her emotions on lotions that could repel the little bloodsuckers and spitters?
That’s it, I concluded—she’s under stress,
wondering how she should confess to crimes
committed, hopefully, in another state of mind.
I didn’t want to push her,
but I was finally forced to ask:
“And what is it that bit you?”
She sighed, rolled her eyes,
reached for the pesticide,
and then replied:
“You don’t know?” “No.”
“It was something so stupid
it forgot how to swallow.”
SOME MAY SAY . . . AND SO ON
to rejoin and soothe over
—but what’s the point?
Even she couldn’t pull apart what’s been stuck
together, massaged with needles—an Eastern treat
to trick runts, the emotionally immature,
kept in a relationship,
Some may say it’s redundant
to keep sprinkling salts, repeating faults,
tickling the pickled sense with the point
that the sweetness (and so on)
has been going, or is long gone.
Apples pulled down, picked
from the choicest trees, glazed with caramel,
served to houseguests, acquaintances—
same folks who walk through our yard,
take improper glances, whisper to breezes
that aid blazes four properties over.
Who’s to blame for the flames?
Some may say something of “karma,”
“just deserts” (and so on), some charming cliché
to explain, to clinch the problem’s meaning.
Some may say the sum of our difficulties probably lies
where we lay our energies: in organizing seasonal social gatherings;
our concentration’s on hot or cold cider
while too many invitations are sent to outsiders.
Does she accept? Do I regret
letting them into my confidence?
No fences can prevent a Western traveler
in the overrun land of the young sun
after he’s unraveled the intricacies of hints of liaisons
experienced during stints for pure pleasure.
Whose business is it?
“I am sorry . . . won’t happen again . . .” and so on.
Some may say, “Lies,” but it’s Truth,
tried and applied: My homegrown method
to make our garden parties more intimate,
the after-talk more interesting,
guaranteed to bring them back . . .
and so on.
How many times
can I rhyme
with my favorite things
as a come-on
before she gets up
and pops me in the lips?
The riddle answered,
“Three plus Two,”
before she blew,
for not expecting
something so anti-romantic,
which beautifully shows
I’m not one of those
slow women you’ve likely known,
who’ll stand up, smiling silently
while you say your ‘Hi’s’
and low lies.”
Hell, that’s the last time I’ll toss my pastime
of trying to cheer this blank-faced woman
out of her obvious fear
of sitting alone
waiting for a long line
to shorten so she may stand, saddened,
to collect her “charity,” short
for “charred identity”—a pity
for this smart undervalued beauty—
burned years ago by Jeremy (the germ
of pubescent popularity) and dead-
anxious to earn the wages,
again learn the flavor
of looks licked clean
of personality, perspicacity,
and—fuck—any sense of poetry.
NEVER WHISTLE “WHISKY” ON A CROWDED BEACH
“Love—Is that what you do
or just what you want me
“You’re on the other side of misery.
I just offered to buy you
“Of desert wine, I bet.
I know what comes after
the sweet streams.”
An albatross with bum wings caught in-between
a vacationer’s insinuations and the weirder actions
of the tide . . .
I’d only been admiring the peach-skinned evening,
strolling in loose-tied trunks, green hoodie where the water
tongue-kisses the beach, when I obliviously threw
a whisky-whistle at the blended clouds: mellow,
delicate tones deepening to something more intense.
Simply my show of approval, my nod at a master’s piece,
my inspiration and vow to properly embrace and turn
the coming late-hours every which way but tight.
My tweet without letters.
She, passing by, caught it,
dutifully mistaking, taking herself as a woman in peril.
Rather than scream, or flee, she asked me my name,
then began an exchange of sugar water
I would’ve passed by at a glance, but she insisted I join
a crab scuttle—dancing, bottom-feeding—as if
I’d some ulterior motive she had to read and announce:
He’s out to tipple and topple any bimbo he can find
already as plum-red-cheeked as him. It wouldn’t be her,
or so she’d declared by yanking, verbally spanking me
in public, yellow-warning any scared others
caring to hear.
While she was nitting and noting,
I noticed her one-piece, wet—very wet—clinging tight,
nipples bright, brighter than the weary sun, or
the tardy moon.
My invitation to drinks came too soon, too polite,
too innocent, she never got the leave-me-alone hint,
till the freak-tide’s wave snuck up on me, mistaking
my loose trunks.
Talk about plum-red cheeks.
A WALK IN THE DARK
Only an obscurant ramble,
a leggy rant in no hurry—
I followed as closely as one could,
detoured through the tried-and-true routine
of duck-and-dodge, hum-and-nod, stubbing two toes,
rubbing elbows with walking-dead
casually, a talk through the park turns
into a defense of bums:
“Well, he didn’t see the ring . . . It’s such a part of me—
‘As one,’ you know—so I forgot . . . We started talking . . .
Well, what would you have said if you didn’t remember . . . ?”