THE PEOPLE WE ARE NOT
The people we are not
walk together downtown
near the river in another city.
For them, evening is fat
with light and sex.
They move closer without touching.
Light downtown spread evenly
over the people who are not us,
moving through their eyes and mouths.
Connected at long intervals
by an unbroken silver bridge
of saliva, suspended lip to lip.
The distance between being them
and being who we are instead,
is the measurement we register
in the glimpse just up ahead
of our friends in their long coats,
rounding a corner like crows.
Or feeling it in the basement
of air left behind a thing in flight,
moving over us. The man I am not,
has some other vices all to himself.
The man you want me to be
knows you as well as he knows
what he’s doing. Good thing
he never comes to town.
But if he ever did, I’d break my
nose for you. I’d lift him
from the sidewalk. I’d take him
to the bars to give him that dull,
bitter scent of whiskey, make him
wear it five days straight
and never get it up. We’d sing
songs into the nights
about those people we are
who are not us. I’d send him
home with promises in his briefcase
and I’d beg you to forgive me.
And you will be made to believe.
I am the only man who
will ever love you.
I am the man made to suffer
for watching you suffer.
—from Rattle #17, Summer 2002
Darren Morris: “I write poems for the same reasons I smoke cigarettes.”