Right now, you’re probably at the bar that doesn’t I.D.
Probably crying over pop to a bartender who doesn’t want you there.
Telling a stranger how you actually loved me.
I never got the appeal of that, the intimacy bull you’ve always been obsessed with.
No one ever asked for your life story, you know that?
No one ever gave you the OK to call in the middle of the night,
come running about your problems. But you’d beg to differ.
You’d always thought prolonged discussions
about the origins of man and how to say what in Spanish
when I only wanted to know how to translate a poem into the language
invited all that. It didn’t.
It just so happened I needed you for something.
I don’t know what, don’t ask.
Do you remember how, for your birthday,
I gave you an ode for a present? (You had really crappy self-esteem.)
It was blackout poetry in one of your biology textbooks,
about your “living . . . guts”
and your “simple . . . spine”
and “hollow . . . mouth.”
That was an entire course you learned about ecosystems and life,
and you let me carve it all up into something you’d remember me by.
You never said it, but I know good and well you thought it-
that everything I did was, at the core, a vain attempt
at leaving some sort of legacy.
Babe, that’s true of every artist. How can you make art without it being exactly that?
And honey, I also make art to destroy it.
Prime example, you are.
Bawling in a public space, pathetic.
Before me, you only ever cried about colonial slavery,
so stupid you knew only how to villainize and heroify.
Still unclear as to how you see me.
Thinking of you crying, I get the guilt of knowing I did that.
The guilt of pride and of accomplishment,
self-worth knowing I, as a human being can inflict pain like that.
I made that.
No one could’ve done it but me,
or like me,
the way I did.
My advice, love, is to feel it. Because soon,
it’s going to stop hurting, and you’ll forget all about me.
Cleansed is what they call it.
So feel it now because the next time this happens,
you will have built walls that someone will have sneaked through.
You will be broken in a completely different way.
You will never be broken like this again.
So curse me, and talk to strangers about it.
(I’ll continue to send you my best wishes
through poems published in our favorite literary magazine.
See you next issue, Wednesday, May 15.)