"This Is Not a Love Poem" + 2 by Len Kuntz

Categories: ISSUE 03: Edgar

This Is Not a Love Poem
You are in Switzerland noshing patchwork cheese,
buying wristwatches with Andre or Gary.
The sun is gentle and restrained on your faces.
A breeze kicks up enough that your hair flounces around your cheek
while seeding the air
with the honeysuckle notes of your perfume,
and at this moment
on our very planet
there could not be a more lovely creature
than you.

Over here
there’s no yellow brick road
so I’m heading off to where
the trails are paved with razors pointed topside,
sticking up jaggedly,
a billion blades
of glinting metal teeth.
To get where I need to go
requires more than faith and
means taking a blood bath.

You should be so thrilled.
Perhaps you can toss confetti across your gazpacho
or shoot up the next guy to slip you the finger.

Mind you, this is not a love poem.

Mind yourself
and mine those men with their ceramic smiles
and candy cane eyes,
their Dudley Do-Right jaws as reliable as oxbows.
Take them in the crux of your kiss,
your armpit
or crotch
for all I care.
Crush them like scrawny spiders or
choke them with a designer garrote,
but leave me out of it,
I’m busy.

When I brushed my teeth this morning
they bled inky black, liquid licorice.
I tried gargling with salt water but that did nothing to stem the flow,
the blow as it were,
so the doctor has fitted me with this muzzle thing
and now the only way I’m able to convey how much I hate you
is to type it
like I’m doing right now.

O Typekey Divider

 

Dogfish
Of all things,
I watch you catch a shark.
The fish, a gray smudge inside cunning cobalt water,
struggles against each ripple,
darting like sun shadows between every vented wave.

You’re apparently a pro,
reeling in with ease.
Your shoulders are the color of flan,
of toast.
I remember how you’d tear off hunks of bread at breakfast,
smear the crust in bleeding egg yoke
and raise your eyes to mine,
bejeweled and sanguine.

Now your man unhooks the fish
and drops it into a handy cooler while
we—
him: _______/
you: on video in some other hemisphere/
me: seated and stupefied/—
watch the slick-skinned creature gasp
and squirm.

O Typekey Divider

 

One
The winds are laced with blades,
arctic air thick blankets,
bruised blue even at night,
but us,
well, we sit at a round table
in a warm building smelling of nutmeg lattes,
loud voices tearing dust off the rafters,
our laughter rattling newsprint
and backpacks.

Through the window outside
I catch a glimpse of a woman wearing a tattered blanket,
hunkered over the steaming heat grate,
her thighs splayed as if giving birth
sending her fetus straight to hell,
saving it from her hell.

Behind, a shopping cart holds
the woman’s house
her rooms
her ceiling
her carport
her bookshelves and bed.
Something like a lottery ticket
is taped to a cardboard sign saying
I AM The oNe
and then unreadable scribble.

As it starts to snow,
two suits and a pair of lovers pass by,
giving the woman wide berth,
winter air smoking from their nostrils
and teeth.
I watch the couple kiss.
I watch a hydraulic Santa pick up a package in the store front window.
I watch the ragged woman start to tell herself
a story,
praying that she gives it a happy ending.

--Poems by Len Kuntz
***
--Foreground photo by Clay Brandt