The Ecstasy of Capitulation

By Daniel Borzutzky Daniel Borzutzky
I.
One reason to eat is to not speak, said the man
with a mouth full of food. When she told me that my

silence was worse than her silence, I agreed,
even though she was wrong. It is shallow to fight

for things, he said, but sometimes it can be fun. You
look like a tunnel, she said, and kissed my lips. What

I like least about words is their capacity
to invoke more words, she said, as she trashed my

poem. According to the New York Times, gay
teenage boys want monogamy while

heterosexual boys prefer “friends with
benefits.” My psychiatrist told me it was

okay to lie about the important details
of my life. As a result, I fell in love with

her. I stopped seeing her as a patient but when
we dated the spark was gone. If, as Cioran writes,

existing is plagiarism, then what is death?
I was lost all night in the forest only to

discover these were streets I knew quite well. In the
Oresteia, Apollo argues that the true

parent is “he who mounts.” Because the Furies fail
to ask what happens when the woman is on top,

they lose the case. In evaluations, a
student wrote: “Daniel would be a better teacher

if he wasn’t such an asshole.” Weren’t such an
asshole, I wanted to tell her, though as her

comments were supposed to be anonymous, I
could not admit that I recognized her

handwriting. On a first date, I innocently
went to the bathroom when the check arrived. She thought

I was trying to stick her with the bill but when
she realized I was unaware of dating

etiquette she was charmed.  We had a nice kiss
goodnight, but afterwards I was so flustered I
went to a bar by myself, drank whiskey, and smoked
my first cigarette in years.

II.
                       Throughout my life I have always wanted to tell the truth,
                       even though I knew it was all a lie. In the end all that matters
                       is the truth content of a lie.
                                                     —Thomas Bernhard, Gathering Evidence

Before I met Lisa in person, says Jerry,
a user of an online dating service, I
really enjoyed the wit and flirtatiousness of
her emails. But on our first date she was stiff as
a board. I wasn’t attracted to her, though I
slept with her anyway, just in case I might like it.
And I did. I liked it so much, that now we’re
getting married.

I love you, she said, as she smacked her child’s head.

I love you for your holes, she said,
not just the holes in your shoes and socks, but the
gaping holes in your personality.

When she asked me if I was uncomfortable,
I told her I wasn’t.
I really was uncomfortable.
What I neglected to say
was that I enjoy being uncomfortable.

Two old friends meet in a café to discuss
mutual funds and stock options. Thus begins a
story that ends with one man slicing off the
other’s neck, and stuffing his mouth with love poems
to Young Werther.

Life is too short to be genuine,
he said, as he stared into her deep
brown eyes. It was the most genuine thing
he’s said all day.

Daniel Borzutzky, “The Ecstasy of Capitulation” from The Ecstasy of Capitulation, published by BlazeVox Books. Copyright © 2007 by Daniel Borzutzky.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: The Ecstasy of Capitulation (BlazeVOX, 2007)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Daniel Borzutzky

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Relationships, Love, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Daniel  Borzutzky

Biography

Daniel Borzutzky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of Chilean heritage. He has published a collection of fiction, Arbitrary Tales (2005), a poetry chapbook, Failure in the Imagination (2007), and two full-length volumes of poetry, The Ecstasy of Capitulation (2007), and The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011).

Borzutzky’s work is often humorous and satirizes political figures and contemporary culture. Amy Groshek, reviewing . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.