"Janice, I sat next to you in Latin.
We were sophomores.
You were a cheerleader
but smart too.
The excitement was unbearable
(Cicero; the shape of your sweater . . . ).
I asked you to play tennis."
"You did never."
"Yes, I did."
"I suppose I didn't want to get sweaty."
"So then you would have gone with me to a movie?"
"No, I doubt it. . . . I was a brat."
"You were divine.
I wrote a poem for you in Latin."
"Lynda, we met at The Three Penny Opera.
You were an usher.
I was a college student; you were in high school."
"Yes, a 'townie'."
"I put my arm around you.
I stroked your hair.
When I tried to kiss you on the forehead our noses collided."
"I was expecting a lip kiss."
"It was a powerful attraction,
but it wouldn't have worked."
"No, we could have made great love,
but it wouldn't have lasted."
"Gina, you lived on that 'hippie farm'
at the edge of town.
I was the 'knowing elder',
the one who'd worked on a real farm.
You were so high-energy, so alluring.
Guys flocked to you:
William and Michael; Davy, back home;
sexually involved with all of them."
"Not Michael really."
"You seduced me--
I think you wanted to make William jealous--
not that I was unwilling. . . .
I was, however, impotent."
"I wanted adventure and, yes, I suppose I did want to make
"Our intimacy awakened me.
I realized what I'd been missing.
Your rejection was devastating."
"I didn't mean to hurt you.
I didn't know you were so fragile."
"Carla, I loved you in your apartment.
It was all softness and warmth;
**** carpet, soft bed,
Carole King on the stereo. . . .
We slept together, showered together."
"I really listened to Carole King?"
"Your parents were divorcing.
You didn't have time for a relationship."
"I don't think I was ready."
"Just as I was overcoming my impotency. . . ."
"Sarah, I loved you on a camping trip.
We kissed at dusk in the Great Smoky Mountains."
"I felt so connected--
physically, intellectually, emotionally.
You smiled with your whole face, with your whole being.
I wanted to be with you steadily.
You said it wouldn't work.
I guess you were right:
I couldn't love someone who couldn't love me completely.
When we parted,
I cried uncontrollably."
Hear Lucius/Jerry read the poem: humanist-art.org/old-site/audio/SoF_037_former.MP3 .
This poem is part of the Scraps of Faith collection of poems ( https://humanist-art.org/scrapsoffaith.htm )