in a diner where i sit humbly

in a diner where I sit humbly

 

a man with a very nice woman

comes in. No, a man and a women, both,

come in. A man, pause, and also a woman,

each separate but emotionally connected,

individuals in their own right,

existentially alone but seemingly 

agreed on spending some little time

in this place, together, come in. 

Plotting no doubt. Maybe a kidnapping or prostitution. 

Maybe he was the prostitute, 

or about to dump her for a younger woman. 

Maybe she was the younger woman. 

No, if someone was being dumped

it would necessarily be a man,

experience teaches.

 

I could go over there, to them, and say good-day, 

be friendly, like I wasn’t at all 

dangerous, begging, or angry.

They would tell me they talked most of love.

“Love,” I’d say, “oh love,

I dance and I sing over any old thing,

but mostly it’s love that I love to sing of,”

and maybe do a trick for them, like swallowing

my tongue or shooting fire

out my nostrils, balling my fists

up in my pockets. “I know all about love,”

I could say, and they would listen, 

”I’ve read about it in magazines, 

I’ve seen it on TV. 

I was even in love myself once

—worst two weeks of my life.

Of course, it could have been something more

along the lines of a massive brain hemorrhage,

I never could tell the difference. And you?“

 

No no no, be quiet. Let me explain,

knives are not important, think nothing of it.

“Once I was at a party, at the Gloria’s,

and Mrs. Gloria’s adult daughter was there

(it was her birthday)

and Mrs. Gloria’s daughter, she said 

she didn’t believe in love,

she just wanted sex and a few friends, that’s all. 

She said, and I

remember, she said that the first thing she did

on any date was fuck, so as to get

it out of the way.

I wanted to ask her 

how, I wanted to ask her if 

that was what made her young.

I wanted to say, “are you Happy?”

but it would have taken too long to work my way

through the crowd of men that gathered round her.

 

Love is like a chicken.

cut the head off either one and the body 

will continue,

staggering, lurching, trying

to convince you it is still 

alive and relevant,

that you still need it and that nothing

has changed. 

But eventually

they both drop to the ground 

dead. 

The big difference is, 

there are still a lot of things you can do

with a dead chicken. 

 

Men are followed by memories of failures, 

women perhaps by fears of distress.

The thing about lovers is they never really know

how much they are hated. It is always some.

 

“Think about what you are doing,” I could say to them.

A poor fool is a fool you can imagine yourself being.

 “How many times do you think 

curiosity and hope 

have been mistaken for love?

How many times?”

 

And it is certain, as the night to day,

they will not believe, or think of me at all,

in their canoodling and their sparks, 

and what can I do but walk away, 

throw the knife in the river

put my wrists in my pockets

shuffle home

and consider myself the one who got

away.

 

What are you looking for?