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Love Poem for an Enemy

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I, as sinned against as sinning,
take small pleasure from the winning
of our decades-long guerrilla war.
For from my job I've wanted more
than victory over one who'd tried
to punish me before he died,
and now, neither of us dead,
we haunt these halls in constant dread
of drifting past the other's life
while long-term memory is rife
with slights that sting like paper cuts.
We've occupied our separate ruts
yet simmered in a single rage.
We've grown absurd in middle age
together, and should seek wisdom now
together, by ending this row.
I therefore decommission you
as constant flagship of my rue.
Below the threshold of my hate
you now my good regard may rate.
For I have let my anger pass.
But, while you're down there, kiss my ass.

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

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Love Poem for an Enemy

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  • Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Richard Katrovas spent his earliest years traveling with his family while his father, a con man, attempted to evade arrest. Katrovas was adopted by relatives as a teenager and lived in Japan for three years before moving to California. He earned a BA from San Diego State University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. As he stated in a 2007 interview, “My response to the chaos of my childhood has been to embrace formalism as an adult artist.”

    Influenced by John Keats, Gerald Stern, and Philip Levine, Katrovas is the author of numerous collections of formal poetry, including Green Dragons (1983), which was chosen for the Wesleyan University Press New Poets Series, Dithyrambs: Choral Lyrics (1998), and Prague Winter (2004). Reviewing Snug Harbor (1987), New York Times critic Sherrod Santos praised Katrovas’s work as “tough, direct, gritty and full of wonder,” observing that his “great strength...

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