SIN OF UNREQUITED LOVE
In war there are no unwounded soldiers.
We had the problem of youth, the problem of desire,
our testicles pulled tight as empty purse seines,
the starved musculature of the heart.
We watched clouds move from east to west,
but with no real avidity. The sun rose and set.
We ate three meals a day, slept seven hours,
washed and shaved, listened to the radio. Mostly,
we followed orders, but some evenings desire
stalked us in musty theatres called Roxy or Empress
where we watched a film noir starring a blonde bombshell
who wore a tuxedo and sang with a voice like a grenade,
its pin pulled. She couldn’t sing worth a damn,
but who cared. She looked dangerous and life then
was all about severity, the sharp angles of cheekbones,
a white chalk outline drawn around a body,
the spasm of detonation. We said less and less
and spent our days drinking or lying in bed
and imagining our imminent deaths;
but this problem of wanting, wanting to stay, to fall in love
and plant raspberry canes, to swim to the other side of a lake
and stare at things as if they matter.
—from Rattle #34, Winter 2010
Rattle Poetry Prize Honorable Mention