We fall in love at weddings and auctions, over glasses
of wine in Italian restaurants
where plastic grapes hang on the lattice, our bodies throb
in the checkout line, bookstores, the bus stop,
and we can’t keep our hands off each other
until we can—
so we turn to rubber masks and handcuffs, falling in love again.
We got to movies and sit in the air-conditioned dark
with strangers who are in love
with heroes like Peter Parker
who loves a girl he can’t have
because he loves saving the world in red and blue tights
more than he would love to have her ankles wrapped around
his waist or his tongue between her legs.
While we watch films
in which famous people play famous people
who experience pain,
the boy who sold us popcorn loves the girl
who sold us our tickets
and stares at the runs in her stockings each night,
even though she is in love
with the skinny kid who sells her cigarettes at the 7-11
and if the world had any compassion
it would let the two of them pass a Marlboro Light
back and forth
until their fingers eventually touched, their mouths sucking
and blowing. If the world knew how
much they loved each other
then we would all be better off. We could all dive head first
into the sticky parts. We could make sweat
a religion. We could light a candle
and praise the holiness of smelliness. Imagine standing
beneath the gothic archways of feet,
the gilded bowls of armpits. Who doesn’t want to kneel down
and pray before the altar of the mouth?
For my part I am going to stop
on this dark night,
on this country road,
where country songs come from, and kiss her, this woman,
below the trees,
which are below the stars,
which are below desire.
There’s a music to it. I can hear it.
Johnny Cash, Biggie Smalls, Johann Sebastian Bach, I don’t care
what they say. I loved you
the way my mouth loves teeth,
the way a boy I know would risk it all for a purple dinosaur,
who, truth be told, loved him.
There is no accounting for it.
In fact there are no accountants
balancing the books of love, measuring
the heart’s distance and sound.
In the Midwest, for instance,
there are fields of corn madly in love with a scarecrow,
his potato-sack head
and straw body, standing among the dog-eared stalks,
his arms stretched out like a farm-Christ
full of love. Turning on the radio
I know how much AM loves FM. It’s the same way
my mother loved Elvis
whose hips all young girls love, sitting around the television
in poodle skirts and bobby socks,
watching him move across the screen like something
even sex dreamed of having.
He loved me tender for so many years
that I was born after a long night of Black Russians and Canasta
while Jailhouse Rock rocked.
I love the way my screen door, if it isn’t latched shut,
will fling itself open to the wind,
how the clouds above me look like animals covered in milk.
And I’m not the only one.
Stamps love envelopes. The licking proves it.
Just look at my dog
who obviously loves himself with an intensity
no human being could sustain, though you can’t say we don’t try.
The S&M goddess
who brings her husband to the mall,
dressed in a leather jumper, leading him through the food court
by a leash. The baker who scores
his wife’s name into the thin skin of pumpernickel
before peeling it into the oven.
Once a baby lizard loved me so completely
he moved into my apartment and died of hunger.
I was living there with a girl who loved to say the word
shuttlecock. She would call
me at work and whisper shuttlecock
into my ear which loved it! The blastoff
of the first word sending the penis into space.
Not that I ever imagined
my cock being a spaceship,
though sometimes men are like astronauts, orbiting
the hot planets of women,
amazed that they have traveled so far, wanting
to land, wanting to document the first walk,
the first moan,
but never truly understanding what
has moved them. Love in an elevator.
Love in the backseat of your parent’s Chevette.
Love going to college, cutting her hair, reading Plath and sleeping
with other girls.
Sometimes love is lying across the bed
but it might not be yours.
And sometimes it travels into a hostile territory
where it’s hardly recognizable
but there all the same.
I know a man who loves tanks so much
he wishes he had one
to pick up the groceries, drive
his wife to work, drop his daughter off
at school with her Little Mermaid
box lunch, a note
hidden inside, next to the apple, folded
with a love that can be translated into any language: I hope
you do not suffer.
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