Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Isn't Love?


No one has ever read this poem.  There was a period in which I was obsessed with a woman.  It was a terrible, destructive, painful experience.
The woman enjoyed her power over me and used it to pull me in, push me out, toy with me.  She wasn't such a bad person.  She was simply in thrall to her own problems and the two of us constructed an awful parody of "love".  During that period I wrote several poems exploring rage, obsession and the difference between healthy love and obsessive love.  I chose to post this poem because I think such experiences are not uncommon.  Many of us have been through the agony of obsessive, jealous, manipulative and enslaving attachment.

What Isn't Love?

Staring into space at work,
while over and over you rehearse
something you must say to wound your lover.
Or having to replay
again and again throughout the day
some way that your lover wounded you.
Listening to the sound
of cars homeward bound;
to extend the range of audibility
farther and farther down the street,
parsing motor noise as you wait:
car too big, car too small,
how long will he or she be gone?
Wincing when your lover smiles
through a party's unheard talk
with a too-attractive stranger;
it feels so much like danger.
To miss someone is sweet,
but helplessness is bitter,
and love does not taste bitter,
rejection is the acrid morsel on the tongue.
Trying too hard to be good;
trying too hard to be bad;
trying too hard not to feel;
feeling too hard to try,
and wanting to cry
when you beg for love
as if it were a drug,
then moan in shocked surprise
when you don't feel high.
Yet you grow more passionate
with each betrayal.
What isn't love?
Heat without light;
lust without compassion;
compassion without passion.
No word exists for what isn't love
but it's always been around
in promises that are broken
in the language being spoken
by those who cannot hear
its splintered sound.