Monday, December 14, 2009

Your Next Lover

No matter what other wonderful
qualities he has, your next lover
should live in an air-conditioned
place so that on sweltering
summer nights you can
tune out the wails of Manhattan,
and lie oblivious
in each other’s embrace.

Whatever your next lover’s
beliefs, you should be
tolerant of his views.
If you are not convinced
he is the love
of your life, (or even one
of the top fifty-eight)
do not be cynical
about the guy.

Please make sure your next lover
is generous not just toward you,
but toward the people
who beg for coins in the streets.
Your next lover
should not be interested
in tax cuts or welfare reform
and he should definitely
not be a Republican.

Your next lover should appreciate
your sense of humor, the way
your friends do. If you can’t
laugh with your next lover
the way you laugh with, say, Melanie
or Silvio, forget about it, you might
as well have fallen in love
with a fire hydrant or a sea urchin
because where there’s no laughter
there’s no freedom
where there is a need for locks and frontiers
there is no room for love’s bloom.

I do not mean that your next lover
should be a stand-up comedian,
a glib jerk who has to be funny
all the time. There is plenty
to be sad about, and sadness
can be a useful feeling
to artists on rainy days
and in dark November afternoons.
Some of the greatest joys
are deliciously sad —
think of the moonlit bayou of the soul
in Roy Orbison’s songs
or the way Greta Garbo stared
into the void at the end of Queen Christina.

Your next lover should
not have bad breath
his breath should
transport you like
a magic carpet gliding over
fields of verbena by the sea
in early May.

Your next lover
should be enamored
of the radiance of the night
sky, the intimacy of dawn.
He should give
you bouquets, just to remind
you how much you are loved.
When you go to sleep in
his arms, you should feel
wrapped in the blanket of the sky
on a late august night.

Now, pay attention,
this is crucial information,
your next lover should be
how to give a great
foot massage. He should be
a sex machine, full
of surprises, going down on you
in an airplane
in a cave, under a waterfall
in positions you never thought
you’d find yourself in.
When you go to the country
for a weekend with him spend
days and nights making love,
until you emerge
from your cocooon of passion
exhausted but renewed, a survivor
of the flood that swept away
your foundations. Outside
it will be a new season.
Because love is the finest
season of all, though it seldom
lasts that long.

Your next lover will wear
a bracelet of tiny rubies
that looks exactly
right on him, not just an adornment
but an expression of his
enraptured soul.

Your next lover should write you poems
on your birthdays, on your anniversaries—
no occasion is too small. He should go on
writing you poems after you’ve dumped him
for a guy with a sports car
the way I find myself writing this poem
to you—who shall remain unnamed—
impossible love of mine
you who hacks me
open from my skull to my toes
consuming flame that flares up
as I invoke your lips
sweetened with the poison of love.

If he’s any good, your next lover should
AFTER him; because your next lover
should not be the end
of love, but just a resting place,
a subway station playing Stan Getz,
a queen-sized bed, a silken pillow,
a window that opens to a pellucid sea
a harbor from which you’ll keep
departing to other destinations
as of yet undreamt by you.

Published in Lungfull