I want to write my lover a poem
but a very bad one. It'll include
a giant squid and some loose change
and cuff links and two blue ferries chugging
headfirst on the East River at twenty-six knots
and only at the last minute averting
disaster through quick thinking and sure reflexes. Also
a bow and arrow and glossy red apple
I perch in front of my heart. To be honest
my lover doesn't really like poetry,
which I guess is why I plan to write
such a bad one, so he can feel right
and strong and good in his beliefs.
Tonight when I go see my lover
he’ll hold me as I've never been held
except by him and then I'll have to give him
back. When you get new things
you treat them like glass for a while
and then get used to them
and manhandle them
like everything else.
I don't want to give him back
but partly it's not up to me and
partly I don't want to be his
old sofa. I want to radiate and gleam
arrestingly until the certain, premature
end. You can compose a whole life
out of these rollercoasters.
You can be everywhere
and nowhere, over and over

life slapping you in the face
 till you’re newly burnished
flat-out gasping and awake.

Melissa Stein, "Slap" from Terrible Blooms.  Copyright © 2018 by Melissa Stein.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press,
More Poems by Melissa Stein