This Is Not A Love Poem
We will try our “love” out on each other, our “love” a thing that—agreed—existed
in a prior epoch, but without the scare quotes: we use scare quotes because we’re
We will try this newish “love” out, or try it onlike an ill-fitting but cozy sweater, an
orange cardigan one can’t bear to toss out, or as we offer each other new dictionary
words—the accent of our “love” is on the second syllable.
We will try the tongue and tooth of our “love” to test its resilience and buoyancy.
We will be “just friends” through our “love”; please note that “just friends” is scary
too, & “just” means “fair.” You are not “fair” in a classical sense but neither am I.
We are the least-pointy people we know and this should be enough but it’s not
because you’re in love with bartenders & grad students with white socks & I’m in
love with blondes though I don’t often admit this—I don’t want it to be true.
We are both “fair” in that we are equitable. We value pronouns and don’t misplace
apostrophes &, though you won’t admit it, we both think the people of the world
are basically decent.
We’ll have our Thursday dinners & our common places. We’ll have our
“commonplaces”—“rooms” to which we return, topoi or loci in the rhetorical tradition,
familiar forms of argument. We will look to these as models for future conduct,
discarding the bad ones & trying to make good decisions.
We will enjoy asparagus together, & though we are not models, we’ll try to look sharp
because of something ZZ Top & one of your students said.
In your white shirt, smile, & ponytail, I’ll paste you to my door & place my hand on
your rib. When you ask if we will ever be grown up, I’ll place scare quotes around
“grown up,” like this, & then I’ll say: “You are fourteen & I am seventeen. We don’t
know a thing about love.”
Author Discusses Poems