Various and Sundry Poetry

words words words

I lied to myself about what I could do with you.
I gave you muscle, mass, meaning, and motive,
imbued you with a heart, and lungs, and legs
watched you power up, rev your tiny, beating engines
saw you scan the open field, eye the target, gauge the distance,
felt the flex of your syllables, heard the music of your consonants,
your smooth vowel ellipses. I elicited your shadows, your echo,
the brilliant architecture of your naked form. I tasted you,
all of you, gave you sugar and salt and hot, hot pepper,
tipped my tongue into your vanilla, your cinnamon,
your lemon rind, your perfect cup of coffee.
All this I did for you, words, and yet,
and yet you’ve failed me.

Or maybe I’ve failed you, lied to myself about
what I could do with you, tried to woo and win lovers,
paint conversations, solve arguments, deliver news,
I pulled you on like a jacket, like a hat, like perfume,
and then, like a placket of buttons,
I unclosed you, I disclosed you, I revealed the insides of things,
and through this I thought I was unclosing myself, disclosing myself,
revealing my own rumbling, rollicking insides.

Instead, words, I see this irony: you are clothing,
not sheer and simple but often brutally opaque, a sheath of iron,
an armature of armor sometimes, a fantastic, futile piece of work
that rules undemocratically, since you require such rigorous
understanding from your intended, some intimate knowing,
the patience of translation, an ear that can bend low enough to catch
your whispery nuances, your swishing in the gutter,
your silvery, slippery dancing, and who,
who can ever bend that low?

I lied to myself about what I could do with you,
and still, words, you are my wayward friend, my listless companion,
my constant breath, my ever-present lover.
You sidle up like firelight, like a flicker of memory
warm as brandy, liquid and easy as sleep,
and I can’t help but reach for you in the night,
in the darkest dark, reach from your mouth to my mouth,
and plead for your nimble, tender, devastating kiss.