Sunday, May 11, 2008


        “Need is my tactic, detachment
         Is my strategy. When I had
         No lover, I courted sleep.”
                                 — Robert Pinsky, from “Samurai Song”

I could quote you—
I was told once that the rhinoceros
with its one horn was symbolic
of purity—
the rhinoceros was the unicorn—
but to me, the rhinoceros is rage—
“Your letter truly shocked me.”

“Your letter truly shocked me.
And yes, it angered me as well.”
You could have accused me of arrogance,
of hypocritical self-righteousness.
But instead you accused me of ignorance:
“I realized you [. . . ] don’t know me at all—how sad.”
You are the zebra who says,
“You are not like me,
    your stripes are not like mine.”

When I swam with the fishes,
I was mean and cruel.
Sometimes, when I caught my prey
I would nibble on its fins
and let it swim away—
knowing, slower,
        it would never escape
        the next predator’s gaze.
But there is no ill-will among the fishes—
life is too short—
in the depths, they say, is Leviathon.
What Leviathon is afraid of
they do not say.

Yes, there was a change in tone.
In our notes we discussed plans
to spend New Years in New York City.
Where I was so kind and understanding,
I became callous, cold.
I criticized you,
        and I criticized your life.
I wrote that “I never did want to fall in love with you [. . . ]
the primary reason is this: you are fucked up.
Your life is fucked up.”
I must have sounded
    like a baboon
           the lion.