The Catalyst

A Writing Teacher Writes (plus some writing prompts and recipes)

I’m not always this serious July 13, 2009

Filed under: Poems,Writing Prompts + — Christopher P. DeLorenzo @ 10:30 pm

The prompt this time was the definition of the word “hope,” from the Oxford Dictionary. One source of the word is old German, and the definition of that word (which for some reason I can’t find now!) included this piece of info: “Distantly related to home.”

You might try reading the definition of “hope” out loud and write in response. Or you could respond to the expression, “Distantly related to home,” and see what comes out. For me, it was the following poem.


Distantly Related to Home

He’s always in past tense:
his eyes were the color of clear black coffee, or
I used to sleep spooned against him all night.
The ghost of romance past comes riding in
on little electric waves of sadness, a sudden remembering.
The last time I was in this theater, he had surprised me
with tickets to a queer one man show,
and then,
a sinking feeling.
That’s over. In the past.
(You still love him.)

I try to focus on the present:
cooking for myself, planning a birthday cake,
choosing a bottle of wine my new lover might like.
But once the bottle is open and the candles are lit,
my new lover fades into the background
and last year’s love burns brightly:
a floodlight, a roman candle.
(You still love him.)

What is this attachment to someone who
couldn’t give of himself, who couldn’t
be present? Tell me, Dr. Freud.
The leftover need to be rescued
by my father? There was trauma there
but Daddy didn’t save me. So?
I’m still waiting for him to show up?

Because I loved standing on his feet, dancing
with him to Ella Fitzgerald. And I liked those flowers
misted with cold water, having lunch outside,
the sun on his cinnamon skin
felt like bring free.

“Maybe you just love being in love,”
a friend says, love addict to love addict.
Or maybe he was someone special.
Someone special: he was. Past tense.
(You still love him.)

“Call him,” another friend advises,
“that usually breaks the spell.”
But I’m too attached to the haunting
to give up the ghost. Too busy remembering
to dial his number.
There’s some payoff in this suffering.
(Something beautiful.)

The mornings he came back from the gym,
stripped naked and climbed back into bed.
The first day we met for lunch and he said,
“I should have ordered what you ordered,”
so I gave him half my salad.
“This is what I look like
before I shower,” he said.
Before we showered together.
Before I met his awful friends.
(Now that’s all in the past.)

So much easier, the longing.
To dig down to the truth takes work.
The romance fizzles then.
And who wants that?

It’s all I’ve got left.


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