“Speaking in Code” by Christine Rhein

Christine Rhein


For fun and to try to mix this up a little, you two might develop a verbal or visual cue that is more subtle than simply asking for sex. For instance, when one of you mentions Vice President Richard Cheney, that’s your code.
—Amy Dickinson, Chicago Tribune

Imagine the possibilities! I could whisper
Rush Limbaugh in your ear and, if it happens
to sound good to you, you could counter
with a breathy Ralph Nader, and go on
to, well, the Better Business Bureau,
nudging us toward Liberty Mutual
and Full Fire Insurance. Of course,
we might want to try something more
scientific, like perhaps Mr. Gizmo
or Miss Motion Engineer, a sigh
of reciprocating oscillation. I guess
we could go a bit wild too, daring to speak
aardvark or walrus, the kinky tangles
of kudzu or cabbage. We could even practice
our French, Soupe du jour, oh là là!
or Italian, Pronto! There’ll be no asking
for sugar, honey, what’s cookin’? in this house.
None of that old hocus pocus, hokey
pokey, hula hula for us. I mean, why dance
around on tiptoe when we can Do the
funky gibbon! The resurrection shuffle!
The tikkabilla jive! And seriously,
since it’s only you and me here,
we might as well scream a little
climate change, stressing the need
for renewable energy or, at least, See me
turn off the TV. We shouldn’t waste time,
dear, wishing to ignite something new
when there are so many hot buttons
already at hand. I say, what the hell—
Let’s build a bridge to tomorrow! Or to Finland!
Because it seems anything is better than oh,
nothing. Not worth the candle. Don’t be silly.

from Rattle #43, Spring 2014
Tribute to Love Poems

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Christine Rhein: “My background as an auto engineer seems to play a part in my writing. Each poem presents a puzzle, with its components and features needing to fit and operate together just so in order to give the reader the best possible ride down the page. Of course, tinkering with poems is boundless, while cars come with constraints. When I write, I want a ride that’s not safe, smooth, or even steerable, but rather one that’s full of unexpected lunges, turns, and spins.” (website)

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