litany

by Carolyn Creedon

Tom, will you let me love you in your restaurant?
i will let you make me a sandwich of your invention and i will eat it and call
it a carolyn sandwich. then you will kiss my lips and taste the mayonnaise and
that is how you shall love me in my restaurant
 
Tom, will you come to my empty beige apartment and help me set up my daybed?
yes, and i will put the screws in loosely so that when we move on it, later,
it will rock like a cradle and then you will know you are my baby
 
Tom, I am sitting on my dirt bike on the deck. Will you come out from the kitchen
and watch the people with me?
yes, and then we will race to your bedroom. i will win and we will tangle up
on your comforter while the sweat rains from our stomachs and foreheads
 
Tom, the stars are sitting in tonight like gumball gems in a little girl's
jewelry box. Later can we walk to the duck pond?
yes, and we can even go the long way past the jungle gym. i will push you on
the swing, but promise me you'll hold tight. if you fall i might disappear
 
Tom, can we make a baby together? I want to be a big pregnant woman with a
loved face and give you a squalling red daughter.
no, but i will come inside you and you will be my daughter
 
Tom, will you stay the night with me and sleep so close that we are one person?
no, but i will lay down on your sheets and taste you. there will be feathers
of you on my tongue and then i will never forget you
 
Tom, when we are in line at the convenience store can I put my hands in your
back pockets and my lips and nose in your baseball shirt and feel the crook
of your shoulder blade?
no, but later you can lay against me and almost touch me and when i go i will
leave my shirt for you to sleep in so that always at night you will be pressed
up against the thought of me
 
Tom, if I weep and want to wait until you need me will you promise that someday
you will need me?
no, but i will sit in silence while you rage, you can knock the chairs down
any mountain. i will always be the same and you will always wait
 
Tom, will you climb on top of the dumpster and steal the sun for me? It's just
hanging there and I want it.
no, it will burn my fingers. no one can have the sun: it's on loan from god.
but i will draw a picture of it and send it to you from richmond and then you
can smooth out the paper and you will have a piece of me as well as the sun
 
Tom, it's so hot here, and I think I'm being born. Will you come back from
Richmond and baptise me with sex and cool water?
i will come back from richmond. i will smoothe the damp spiky hairs from the
back of your neck and then i will lick the salt off it. then i will leave
 
Tom, Richmond is so far away. How will I know how you love me?
i have left you. that is how you will know
 
from American Poetry Review, Sept-Oct 1992.
Copyright (c) Carolyn Creedon 1992. Included by permission of the author.

Click here for an adulterated version (with quotation marks separating the speakers).

 

 

 

Pub Poem

If I hold my breath for a million ebbing years, little oyster
waiting my tables, fighting the tide, swimming to hope
and still I can't open you up, love
I'll marry the fat red tomato
I got from an infatuated farmer who waits pleasantly
with knife and fork, to eat me.
I'll marry the warm brown York, where naked swimming
is like breathing, a priority, and only as dangerous
as the softshell crabs slipping away on the sandy floor of the river.
I'll marry my worn work shirt, stained with Corona and crabcake
and sweat and a little smear of cocktail sauce like a margin.
I'll marry each lonely marine I wait on,
he and I will picture a possible me, painting my toenails
bloodred in a trailer, waiting for him,
for the slippery click of the lock;
knowing it now, we look away.
I'll marry the teasing moon whose bright vowels dance on the water
like the Yorktown Slut, promising everything
sighing, before she slips away
what if, what if.
I'll engage my boss on his boat in thoughts of brastraps
and panties and other wistful trappings
which become, like breathing, a priority.
I'll marry each barnacle I scrub
bare, barely staying afloat,
while the bass slip away past the rockabye boat and the waves whisper
dive under, dive under, seduction is rare,
seduction is hope.
I'll marry the Pub, and slop icecold mugs of beer
onto men whose eyes seem to say that I too, am replaceable.
My sneakered feet will slip, I'll wed the salted floor that way --
slide into the sun and marry the day.
I'll marry the bent mirror in the back
where I pin up my marmalade hair
and stare at lips as red as cocktail sauce
the round everpresent planet of mouth
and fragile freckled arms who miss the man who slipped away.
I'll marry my beautiful brown teacher whose letters,
which say angst is my downfall, I read on the sneak
on a Budweiser box amongst the dead clams and unconsummated lemons
in the back of the Pub; I'll marry my downfall.
And if I fall down a hole as big as the Chesapeake Bay, big as my whole
yummy heart, today's Special of the Day,
I'll marry it.

Copyright (c) Carolyn Creedon 1993. Included by permission of the author.