Please now, evening,
Share your secret:
Tell me how
Such peace is found,
I can promise,
I will keep it —-
Take it with me
To the ground —
Please now, evening,
Where to go, what
It will cost me:
Let me find this rest
Yo, dude —
What the hell is up with these low-T stories? You had a girlfriend in college, and never slept with her? I think I might know why she left you. Seriously.
You know, it ruins poetry
To have to explain it.
I didn’t recount the story
To make myself look good,
Or make her look bad, or good,
I was trying to describe
A thing that happened.
Everything we do, as human beings,
Is dictated by either instinct (at worst)
Or emotion (at best).
It was the emotions I was
Interested in reliving: how it felt.
Our tendency, in these times,
Is to put things in some sort of
Bizarre moral context:
The “you-should-have-done-this-instead-of-that” world
You apparently live in.
When it comes to recounting events
The only thing that matters
Although I won’t deny that
When it comes to learning from them
A viewpoint something like yours
Comes into play.
What we learn from any relationship is always
Half about the other person
And half about ourselves.
Was not the issue;
Negotiating the desire to be
In control of my own feelings was.
The biggest issue I see with relationships —
Mine and everyone else’s —
Is the desire to be in control of the other person.
How to carry on relationships
On equal footing is always the real task.
But I appreciate your concern for my wellbeing,
And will consider your critique of my artistic choices
As time allows
Down avenues of narrative
We made our narrow way,
We ended where we knew we would
At close of day.
Outside the world is quiet now,
No other views professed:
For walls protect the narrative
And bar the rest
One last time:
She was the maid-of-honor, I
She stopped to ask me
How I’d been since graduation, she
Was now engaged, the wedding in a year.
But I’d been sick, and she
Could tell, much thinner, covered up in clothes,
As summer wedding: no real time for layers.
“You don’t look well,” she said.
“I haven’t been.”
“Can I ask what’s wrong?”
“If they knew, then I would, too.”
Out on the deck, beside the bay,
Just minutes from the fishing bridge,
But I recall like yesterday
Her, wearing that red hat.
I got an invitation later, but
Poor health prevented me
From going to her wedding, or
To work, or anywhere at all.
There is no moral to this story:
She moved on, and so did I,
And slowly age will cover up
These times we shared,
For all they were
It ended; she’d met someone else,
And I was not that broken up.
It turns out he was there, out at
A neighbor, in her old hometown,
Marine now, tall and rangy guy —
And we were friends again,
The way that goes.
I’d see her: music theory class,
Her headphones on, as
Beautiful as ever, but,
I too had felt something lacking, it was weird.
I should have moped, and raged, and stormed;
Instead, I dated someone else,
Who I liked far, far better
Relationships, like interviews
Turn into something, or they don’t.
This one lasted several months, then
Died its death, and
No one really mourned
I walked into her parents’ house just
Two days after Christmas;
I’d made the strange four hour drive
To see her in that place —
Her parents were the sweetest, nicest people.
I was her “new boyfriend”
And I met fifty relatives, it felt like;
All these names and faces, it was quite bewildering.
And later, after dinner, we
Sat down beside the Christmas tree;
She told me I looked tired, and
We went up to a room
Where I would soon be sleeping.
We had never slept together;
I know it’s not that cool, but
It’s my truth, and so I tell it here.
Then when we kissed goodnight, I felt
A longing in her, something new;
I didn’t and I couldn’t guess
What she was thinking, but
I soon found out
Walking by the river, down from campus, near
The aging fishing bridge, we stopped:
We hadn’t really talked yet much, and I
Was asking what her dreams were, and her plans —
She worked in radio, but not yet
How and where she planned on doing;
She was a writer, a speaker, a thinker,
Who wanted, not to conquer the world, but better it.
And as I listened, I could see
The future as she laid it out;
I probed a little: details, things
That, at that age, we talk about
And it was funny: life’s so real.
We’re all the same down underneath
The masks we wear: with hopes and fears
That differ in the details only
Yes, we’d worn masks, and hers was beauty;
Mine was weary misanthrophy
Shown false through the joy I showed
In simply making a new friend
You tell me. I was nineteen,
And she was more than life itself:
I would have cut my arm off, given
All my limbs to science, just
To be beside her, everyday.
But this was not a forlorn hope:
It was fulfilled, and day on day
It just got better, better, like
A string of cool fall weather,
And it seemed my trenchant heart was set to soar.
But what — what did I know?
I was alternately, a lunatic,
And one supportive, not that bad a guy.
And who — just who was she?
What is this magic blinds us to
Exactly who the people we love are?
I know not, now, or then.
But love’s a good thing, even broken:
Even made of hope and sneakers,
Even as smile in the park
That burned my soul way into dark