“Prenuptial Agreement” by Stephen Taylor

Stephen Taylor


Imagine you can’t stand another
minute of me. I don’t mean
the way a theater usher no longer
salivates at the smell of popcorn
or an editor can’t quite tell
a good poem from a bad one
any more or work up the guilt
to give a damn—I’m not talking
about what’s inevitable, though
not what’s memorable either,
nothing intense or terrifying
like, say, the feeling when flames
begin to blister and char your feet,
igniting, so to speak, your first doubts
about being a heretic after you’ve
spent such energy convincing yourself
that God would insulate you. No,
nothing so distinctly painful
that it’s easy to cry out for it
to stop or that understandably
leads to homicide on its own, but
more like a hangnail you can’t bite
close enough when you haven’t got
a clipper, how it catches and tears
a little more whenever you forget
and reach into your pocket until
you have to think too much about
your movements. Feel that? Good,
now add a hemorrhoid and an itch
between the shoulder blades
and simultaneously do your
best to think of love, and if
you can, we’ve got a deal.

from Rattle #60, Summer 2018


Stephen Taylor: “Two friends of mine who are very much in love were about to get married, but because they had each acquired some wealth, they were drawing up a prenup to head off any possible conflict later. I have not acquired much wealth, but it got me to thinking about what sort of agreement might be even more practical in a long-term relationship.” (web)

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