Play “Sister Morphine” four or five times an hour,
sleet jittering the window, and what is it about that song
yanking the chain so tight I have to cover my eyes
before walls collapse? A lover can set bounds to love,
but then, is it still love, or some kinder emotion?
Trollope’s married ladies esteem their ample lords;
but look at crazy Bradley Headstone, he doesn’t
esteem Lizzie one bit, though he loves her
like a man from hell.
The novels say I’m reaching the prime of life
when I ought to forget about skin by firelight,
but I’ve always been a sucker for desire, I can’t stop now
just because my friends have marriageable daughters.
Girls these days, they don’t grow up watching Virginia
Woolf stir the soup, Juliet behind the barn dying for love.
What girl wants to be Virginia-thinking-of-Juliet anymore?
You’re stuck with me, dear boy, pockets full of rocks,
though at least the river’s frozen, no drownings till spring.
You’ll have to give up the ghost and let me love you;
it’s the best I can do, this dark age.
[forthcoming in How the Crimes Happened (CavanKerry Press, 2010)].