Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Arcane Art of Coupling

The Arcane Art of Coupling

We devise rituals, more complex than any found in religion,

equally mysterious, especially because the rules are even more

invisible.

Compliance with the other’s hidden dogma is rewarded, failure

triggers a different type of rite, no less baffling.

Some call it The Night of the Cold Shoulder.

 

Others know it by its antediluvian name:

Ish-panawath M’bleth! Loosely translated from Atlantean,

“Tonight your sorry ass sleeps on the couch!”

 

So mote it be…Amen…yes, dear. Resignation

and capitulation take many forms, but always we delight

in those sparkling moments when,

through some unforeseen conjunction of chance,

we get it right.

 

That is when the magic happens.

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Prufrock in 2014

Prufrock in 2014

 

I believe I know what he meant

when he spoke of measuring life

 

in coffee spoons. For the modern insomniac

at three in the morning,

 

the currency of the hour is entertainment

and all the wayward shapes it might assume. Maybe

 

I will wander blithely into the heated political discussions of friends

whose faces I haven’t seen in years, and perhaps

 

I will regret it immediately, as usual. I will repent, sort of,

then pay recompense to invisible powers, eventually.  I may suffer

 

a horrible mixture of adorable cat videos, celebrity news,

urban legends and pictures of beautiful, happy friends

 

doing beautiful, happy things. Meanwhile,

in this house, we try to keep the five cats free from fleas.

 

In the rooms, they come and go,

and they hack up hairballs on my books. Sometimes,

 

words slip away from the realm of diplomacy,

and the refrain echoes Prufrock’s:

 

That is not it at all, 

            That is not what I meant, at all!

 

Except when I did. So a voice goes, I grow old …

I grow old … and I silence it any way I can.

 

That voice has haunted me for years,

and it needs to quiet down before I believe it.

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Within the Maelstrom

Within the Maelstrom
after J.

Arguments always seem to bring out the five-dollar words,
at least in the silences between rounds: You’re anhedonic,
I’m aphonic, and yes, I use
words as weapons.
They are all I have. Now,

silence has become the instrument of choice
in our cold war, this guessing game where mutually destructive powers ask:

Will the next move be capitulation                             (read: apologize, make nice)
or aggravation?                                                              (read: something broken, again,
perhaps a gold necklace, perhaps
a collarbone?) You rip pages from my journal,
as though that deletes them from existence, as though

that paper is where I exist. The part of me you truly want to hurt,
or touch, I think. Those pages torn away—I found them,
taped them together in secret, made a list: things
my lover tells me when he’s enraged. I joined a brotherhood,

you know, of those who consistently forgive,
but keep a record. Sometimes, on our good days,
I read it and remember why I change

ink colors with every new passage.

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June 26, Indiana

June 26, Indiana

I swore my tongue would run dry
when I said my vows. Of course it did,
but not for the reasons I predicted. Instead
of walking the long mile together,
confessor and confessee, I felt we had just crossed
a finish line with county clerks silently mouthing Congratulations,
afraid their bosses might overhear. Wariness

in the eyes of the court house regulars. They knew,
put hands to their mouths when they whispered,
as if they suspected I could read lips. I could,
for what it’s worth. “It happened yesterday,” they wisped,
“and look how fast they’re jumping in.” Yes.
Yes, damn it! Three years was enough of a courtship
for us. I wanted to ask how long theirs was–

instead I sucked water from the nearest fountain
and silently recited my vows.

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