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Friday, March 21, 2003
 
A Love Story
I'm going to tell a story. However, without the gift for prose that some of my peers have, I'll go with another medium.

I'm sorry if you don't dig on this.

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"Vodka (or, How Things Can Start)"

'92:
a harsh and tasteless June---

birds beating wings further northward,
a plague of mosquitoes, biting,
heat setting like humid glue---

that was your summer after high school,
my summer of one long party,
the summer Love never gave anything back.

You said we first met in the kitchen at Tif's.
I remember passing through
as you shared a private moment
with a liter of Gilbey's---
the air laden with conversation you didn't want to have:
about the girlfriend I had neglected to bring,
or my pot-induced anxiety cresting into paranoia,
or the fact that nothing clean nor pure
could ever quench your thirst.

Perhaps I should have stayed home, you must have thought,
mourning your long-lost, faraway someone,
waiting in Texas like a vampire
for your Life, Love, and virginity---
so much with God,
so much like God.

But it was another house,
another party, another night, on a trampoline,
when our words finally came---
triple-distilled.
I was holding Cuervo Gold like some glass slipper,
slurring a masterwork of small-talk,
abandoning all pretense of salt and lime.

Maybe you were listening, passively.
Maybe it wasn't until I drunkenly called
after you had slipped away that I had a voice at all.
Or maybe you never heard anything
until we rose from our stupid youth
like fiery birds, the words Love, Marriage, Forever
tumbling from our lips---
practicing them,
lying in a hotel in Atlanta three summers later,
the wings of what we had newly begun opened for flight,
or petals receiving their first whiff of sun---
only to avoid them in six months
in our Seventh Avenue apartment
between breaking apart and holding fast
and you running away to St. Petersburg,
or the half-in, half-out days
of bodies smashing together, pouring forth,
of resistance crashing into openness,
of endless contemplation,
knowing all the while there was no-one else
without really knowing.