You can’t read my poetry. I am too nervous for that. But I write some short ones about you that you’ll never know about.
I read one, aloud. I reference you. I use numbers, perhaps the word “fate”…. maybe the word, “penis” and, if none of the above, I use your name. Spelled backward. Maybe I say something like, “I hope if we ever end I never meet another Noraa because I want to love just one of them.”
You ask me about the sheet I’ve left curling in the typewriter. I trust you now. You corner me in the kitchen.
“Who’s this blue-eyed-Orpheus-jerk-off you’re writing about?”
I comfort you with things like –
“it was a dream”
“a response to a Sylvia Plath poem I found online last night when I couldn’t sleep.”
I could be lying. I’m probably not.
I refer to your ex as a slut in a poem I leave on the bathroom counter. Accidentally. You, with your stupid red marker circle “whorebag” and correct it with a dash between the whore and the bag. I tell you to mail the poem to her, or perhaps, crumble it up, eat it, and choke.
I’m sorry poem #736. You said we should tape it to the refrigerator. I say, “baby, let’s use the magnet we got in Chicago.” You throw the paper at me and scream that everything always has to be my way.
Poem 1 about your mother. I write things like:
“You get me.”
“You get her.”
“You are my rock.”
“Thank you again.”
You cry. We have sex. It’s incredible. You say I may be the one.
I’m not mad at you but I write about how much of a jerk you were when we first met while you were still sleeping with your ex. I don’t show you these. I don’t want to fight. I just need to say it. Everyone at the open mic on the 1st Monday and the last Friday of every other month between the months of September and March snap, sigh, and buy me a beer – they refer to you as ‘the jerk’ and I feel validated.
Like I’m memorizing a new home.
Someone suggests I read it to you. I agree.
I call you at 1 a/m. You don’t answer.
I flirt with the bartender for another round.
Poem 2 about your mother. You call me a bitch for writing about her. You scream in my face to never mention her again. I don’t know her. I don’t know you. I shouldn’t even try to understand. Besides, I’m not perfect. I’m a slut. Just like my mother.
On a cloth napkin in a four-star restaurant on our anniversary I scratch out a terza rima. I plan on giving it to you later as not to ruin dinner.
Later at the hotel, you whip the napkin into the trash.
“I don’t understand this shit.”
I try to explain that you are the actor – I am a stage – my body hurts – my mind is tired. But you laugh at me.
I sleep on the expensive couch alone.
I leave before you wake.
6 months later
You approach me after I read. You ask me if it was about you.
None of them were ever about you.
They are always about me.