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My skin remembers your fingers.
My calm remembers your care.
I loved once and was loved.
Read this to me when I'm not there.
The place smells the same. Garlic, undergraduate angst, oven flame.  The menu hasn’t changed. The Antony and Cleopatra.  Italian sausage and snake meat. The Macbeth. Cooked in a cauldron.  Blood sauce won’t wash off. The Julius Caesar.  Served bottom side up.  You have to knife it from the back. The Timon of Athens. Only bitter, separate ingredients, overcooked to black. The Frankenstein.  Assembled from ingredients at hand.  Served smoking from a jolt of high voltage. The Tragic Irony. It’s a surprise.  Everyone at your table knows what you’re getting while you cover your eyes.

You said tragedy means playing out a ****** hand. The game has to end badly. Bigger Thomas. Joe Christmas.  Hamlet.  Everybody died.  No choices. The end. I said, no, it means you have a fatal flaw.  Macbeth and Ted Kennedy—ruthless ambition.  Gatsby—pride. Lear—vanity. Richard Nixon—douchebaggery, deep-fried. Bad choices.  

“Can’t be both,” you said.  “One is character, the other one’s fate.” “What if character is fate?” I asked smugly. “Then we’re *******, Heraclitus. It’s late.”

I smoked a pipe.  You wore a beret and severely bobbed hair. I wrote sarcastic love letters to the universe. You wrote hate lyrics to Ted Hughes, love notes to Jane Eyre. We kept relations on an intellectual plane. You had a set of big firm ideas, dark-eyed principles, and a dimpled scorn of life’s surly ****. My eloquence was tall, square-jawed, curly, tan.  Together we solved the world’s big problems as only undergraduates can.

“Can pizza be tragic; or is it merely postponed farce?” I wondered. “Here it is clearly both, though not at the same time,” you said. “Does tragedy plus time equal comedy?” “Sounds right.” “No, tragedy plus time is any order in this place on a Saturday night.” After what seems like decades our orders finally arrive.  

“What did you get?” I asked.  “Looks like the Double Tragic,” you replied. “Flawed choices and fate. I leave you. You were unfaithful to every love sonnet you ever wrote.  Yet you are the first man who makes me feel loved, the only one who ever will.  I strain for that feeling again and again but it becomes a boulder that keeps rolling back down the hill. And fate—my beautiful ******* that got so much attention from men will **** me.  The only thing they will ever nurse is a cancerous seed. You?”

“The Too-Many-Choices, done to perfection. Choosing everything means choosing nothing. Loving too many women, I love none.  I follow a simple path home but try to stay lost. Living in the space between lost and found has a cost.  My life becomes a solitary pilgrimage to no place.”

“Let’s not reduce our lives to a Harry Chapin song,” we agreed. So we toasted the beauty of what never was. I went back to my hotel to write, found my way to a few easy truths, and called it a night.
I met a woman
brutal in her mercy.

Her embrace was a clinch
to prevent hard blows.
She pulled me close to push me away.
Seeing my nakedness
she leant me a dream
of chainmail and shield.
Taking love from me she gave a reprieve
to a mind resigned to the slow death of feeling.

Ignoring my words she heard
my faint silent heartbeat and
understood that it was music
too quiet for the world to hear
and turned it up louder
than I could stand.
I wept in my deafness
as she danced.
David Adamson Feb 13
Dance was the shape her body gave to music.
“Forgetting is the purest form of clarity.”

And so ended the unquiet dreams
awkward reunions with the dead
wandering the halls of sleep,
the bodies of others’ loss.
Ghosts gone from the gazebo.
No laments in the lowering sun.

She woke. Blue sky blinked into her eyes.  
The room’s climate began to clear.
The familiar path from bed to door
curled into a stone staircase.
When did that get there?  
There was writing on the wall
near a waterfall.

She climbed. She soared.  
She leant a myth to god.
She stood in a garden with five black stones.
She foretold an eclipse,
Burned the witch of winter,
Stepped in the same river twice.

The moon shrank into the alarm clock’s face.
Her breath brewed clouds above her forehead.
She sat aloof in the empty air,
Alone in the immense morning,
At rest in clear, cold perfection.
1.  Learn forgiveness.  Then withhold it from everyone.
2. Avoid making enemies. Leave it to your friends to find you insufferable.
3. There is good in everyone. The trick is not to let it out.
4. Expect the worst. You’ll be right.
5. Never hurt anyone’s feelings.  Unintentionally.
6. Command an audience.  Then who cares if you loathe mankind?
7. Self-sacrifice ennobles the spirit.  But someone still has to clean up the blood.
8. Don’t dance.  Then no one will watch.
9. Don’t envy others’ success.  Intervene more forcefully to prevent it.
10. Life is short, but otherwise lousy.
David Adamson Jan 30
A butterfly landed nearby.
It had auburn wings
and azure circles on each,
like a pair of eyes
that looked through me.

“Butterfly, you are beautiful!” I cried.
“You give me pleasure.
I love you.”

“Love is a beautiful thing,” said the butterfly.
“I need food. You have flowers.
Can I drink from them?”

“Of course,” I said.  
“But aren’t you going to love me back?
I am a butterfly just like you.
Tell me that you see it!”

“Nothing that I say,”
she said, “can make you a butterfly.”
“If you want to be a butterfly,
be one.”
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