When the poet first met her, again,
Cupid tried to strike him with an arrow.
It missed because the poet stared
through her. Not at her.
Yesterday it was,
'Get online loser.'
Tonight she says: quick
give me a description of Paris.
She always says such things.
He says: cold
like the pin-*****
of morning after-skin. Warm
like the shiver of a hand
held soft; of lips kissed.
He always says such things.
He even calls her Honeybear,
Cupid be ******.
He liked her because she read more books than him.
Her voice always made the sound of a page turned:
Crisp, clear, passionate;
revelling in the present,
but always waiting for the next sentence.
As if a book could actually speak
like a person.
As if the hours
she spent reading alone were not
just conversations with herself.
As if every syllable
was a night-whisper with
the great American dead.
The poet doubted if she ever
truly talked to Fitzgerald because
he was a drunk too obsessed
with one spirit. She'd get annoyed.
But then again, her drink of choice
is also an ungraspable green light.
When she put on her spectacles,
the world became less clearer:
she could only see how far away she was
from where she was supposed to be.
The sharper life's images were,
the surer she became of this.
She had her substitutes for foreign oxygen:
novels, movies, songs, poems;
but they never quite breathed the same.
He tried to force the glasses off her.
Maybe then she could more barely
make out the thorny edges of sun-dried Acacias,
and more fuzzily the general sun-warmth
that he thought was the Kgalagadi soul.
She refused, but when she didn't,
she wore contact lenses. Real,
or imagined, the thin sheet of
dream glass pressed against her eyes
could never disappear. Her soul
was where it was: where it wasn't.
So still all she could see,
even when he smiled vivid,
was a place that wasn't Paris.
That is where she thought she was.
Here, an indescribable place.
Indescribable because she saw it grey. He
instead saw dappled speckles,
and rainbows flickering across every corner.
But he was of here and here alone, he felt
the landscape's beauty in his bones. She
wondered why she should look at
sandy semi-desert instead of gravelled
culture. She wanted pathway upon pathways of
old Europe, lingering in modern cafés and bistros
like an affectionate aftertaste. He
was happy with spoonfuls of instant coffee with
translated copies of a country he would never see.
To him, a French poet in English
was just about the same as a
French poet in French.
He knew that wasn't true, of course.
But the point was to get across the idea of
a Little Paris in his Somewhere. Just as he had an
idea of her in the movies she shared; where
she would awkwardly appear as bits and pieces
of dialogue, sceneries, soundtracks and end-credits
injected into his laptop weekends atop his bed.
He knew her as old romance films on USBs.
It wasn't quite her, but he still liked the idea of it.
He liked ideas, and ideas alone
were more than enough for him.
To her, ideas were restless things
to be beaten into submission.
And so she endlessly beat life's piñata
with a stick of dream,
and hoped to find a plane ticket
amongst the false candies.
She's still swinging.
He couldn't stop her and he didn't try.
At the very least, he admired her charm;
the zest and gusto of her swing.
But she tired easily. And he didn't want
her to be tired.
Sometimes her laughter would burst into her
and she'd forget about ambition, forget about success.
Sometimes she would just bite into her own sweetness
like if a rose could smell itself. She loved her red,
and was more intimate with her petals than her pulse.
Just as how she knew Paris better
than this Somewhere.
He thought she was crazy.
But so did she.
And they argued about this because
She thought he was crazy.
But so did he.
they disagreed about agreement
On a good day she would present a vicious smile,
the next paragraph in her never-ending thesis
that he doesn't intend to stop reading,
but somehow hasn't even started.
He never will.
On a bad day... well, a bad day
would lead to the end of a verse.
They would always eventually get over a bad day.
Coldness takes effort; warmth does not.
The knew this, but warmth often became
an uncomfortable singeing of their safety.
They ran at the thought
of such possibilities like tiny girls
from tiny spiders. Neither wanted to put
that eight-legged flame into a jar, but
somehow they both expected butterflies.
The ecosystem is such for good reason,
and that reason is balance.
Spiders and butterflies both constitute
that effortless, life-affirming warmth.
They dance around that truth as it is a bonfire.
Sometimes they even look bright at it. But never,
never do they touch that little Paris, that little flame;
their little flame, their little Paris.
Because that love is meaningless meaning,
and neither of them wants to be, or feel, wrong.
Even if they'd be wrong together.
Their hands never meet in that fire.
Their souls never burn in night's ecstasy.
And they are almost never born,
until tomorrow, when they smile once again,
Come online loser.
It's another birthday poem for a friend.