In honor of my daughter, who’s 13, and despises Valentine’s Day (for what should be obvious reasons, if you remember anything at all about being 13) I’m posting an anti-Valentine poem Pokey wrote long ago (before she was even Pokey). This is for you, Maddy!
X’s & O’s
You can keep your four-leaf clover
road to nowhere, I’ll stick at the intersection,
hold on to my tokens, right angles, boxes
checked off with an X. I’ll thumb a ride,
if you don’t mind, and even if you do
your head’s so full of pillowed dreams
and round-eyed fluff it makes me want to
store my pins there. Straight seams,
even argyles are fine, but don’t embroider
your french knots and figure-eights
around my block, don’t expect time-out,
ollie-ollie-in-come-free here. Your globe
means nothing to me. Put a tack in it
so you’ll remember: I’m good and sick
of your spare tire roll of dimes-for-a-dance,
wrung-out hanky-panky and tea-stained
sympathetic teeth. I’m through
getting wet. Get your snapshot off my dresser,
take your fingers from my light switch,
and shut the door behind you. I’ll be watching
out my triple-paned second-story windows
while you jump rope out of here, you
and all those other Jacks that bounce.
And for my husband of more years than we can accurately track, I’m posting an actual love poem (well, Pokey’s version of a love poem). This one’s for you, John.
Halloween Dressed Up as Longing
I want us to go as a pair, something clever
only two can be:
movie stars or condiments or gangsters
on the lam. Lamb,
let’s go south
someplace exotic, but temper-
ate, that is, without tricks.
I promise, I promise
you can be the bird this time, I won’t
laugh at the iridescent stop light
of your puffed-up throat; I want
all that sugar, sweet
touch of rot, nobody
stealing my candy.
I want not to be sure it’s you
in the dark, roguishly riding my epaulette
like there really is gold in your chest,
like this isn’t just make-believe.
Mark the spot with an X.
It’s what we promised,
said we’d never not do.
Wherever and whoever you are, I hope your day has sweetness to it—XXOO