“Attract your kind!”
And the screen turned black.
Then the custom text slithered to a spin, mocking:
smile! smile! smile! smile!
It’s been ten minutes of staring at the line:
Attract your kind! Attract your kind! Attract your kind!
willing the letters to re-arrange themselves,
if not to disappear;
ten minutes of shit-cursing myself for clicking on the e-mail
I vowed not to read in a thousand fiscal years.
Once, I swore not to fall for a poet:
the engineer of imaginary spacecrafts that take you,
wearing only an old shirt, to the moon;
the god who creates clichés so hated by snooty
second language English speakers; and the chefs
who fatten Mr. Webster and his friend Mr. Oxford.
As lovers, poets leave you awed and later dying wondering
what of their words that poisoned you,
and except for your life, what else it was that you lost,
except for everything, what else did you miss.
At best, poets leave you with something figurative
when all is over: you sleep with their synecdoches;
you salad on miseries French-dressed in vinaigrettes;
you turn into stress balls their odes and make bookmarks their villanelles.
You get insulted that even their break-up letters
seriously warrant a publication and centuries later will be found
in library archives as biographical citations, while you,
the addressee, must submit to the devil if only to make it
to the footnotes.
The poets I have dated wrote their best in anger
assuming, perhaps, the outburst would not see print.
And if you’re one of those who believe
that Shakespeare did not write Romeo and Juliet,
but some duke or else, then you must believe, too,
that authors are at their best
when they don’t write as themselves.
“That’s what you get for not seizing the moment. Stale leftovers.
“…and it stops right here. Attract your kind!” he said.
(What non-poet-man would e-mail “seizing the moment”?)
You get counted ten on the first blow,
still you forgive them for their metaphors.