329 Readings

Double Negatives

I do not want more, no more feeling of feelings,
   The tingles & terror of getting to second base
   For the first time—scared to French kiss w/

Braces on braces, faces flush, hands sliding
   Slow up her ribs, sure to be turned back
   & the rush when they weren’t.  The inviting

Eyes, the double-trouble thrill thru the veins
  From simultaneously discovering a new body
  & the threat of being discovered.  Curfew

Is a four-letter word to anyone who ever snuck
   Out the laundry-room window to steal
   Hood ornaments & chromies off any parked car

On the street.  No bird that talks says anything
   Useful & not much that anyone says is worth
   Repeating.  I hate repeating myself more than

I hate the pickpocket who made off w/ my wallet,
   My ex-girlfriend’s cockatoo that never stopped
   Saying fuck you very very much every time

I walked thru the door, thru the black fence of
   A doomed relationship one too many times,
   When the simultaneous scorn & good manners

Got to be too much.  How does any relationship
   Not get to be too much?  It’s easy to skip
   The daily rundown—How was your day?  Why

Do you still talk to her after what she said about
   You?  What are we doing for dinner?  I’m
   Spent, let’s hit the sack.  I’m sorry I forgot to wash

The dishes.  Please don’t take that tone w/ me. 

   How not to say No the same way twice every day?
   Every morning you wake up alone, early— 

You think Today will be different.  Today is the day
   Something will happen: maybe a rain of frogs
   Will bring traffic to a hault & I can roll my window

Down & breathe easy.
  Which is what the Nothing
   & pickpockets & the Supreme Court want you
   To think.  When I am thinking, I start by

Crossing myself—head down to heart, shoulder
   To shoulder for the holy ghost, out of respect
   & penitence for the unseen forces, because

Thinking is dangerous business & the penitent man
   Kneels before whatever god rewards humility,
   Records shame & damage incidents.  The line

Is too long & too hard for many of us to walk,
   To not read ahead, to trust the tour guide w/
   Our lives.  Salvation comes scoop by tiny scoop,

Smaller than half a teaspoon.  Never ask me what
   I am unless you can first explain what you are—
   A cast away, a double negative, a caterpillar w/out

A mouth for silk, kicking yourself a hundred times. 
   How far we can see around the perimeter will not
   Save either of us w/out deploying our heaviest artillery.
Posted 08/10/13
For Matthew Guenette and all my fellow classmates in his "Kickstarting the Muse" workshop that was part of the David R. Collins Writers Conference at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA June 27-29, 2013. This poem was written using a "surreal questionnaire," the responses to which were generated by my classmates.
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