February, 1994

Valentines for Seven Friends and a Stranger

Weary of girls floating by
cradling long boxes of roses like newborns
their sweet fragrant blossoms choking me,
A memento of my empty arms.

We contrive  a Valentine’s Day party –
“NO LOVERS ALLOWED
Dress in black and come ready to mourn
the Death of Love by Hallmark Card.”

The coterie arrives alone, by necessity,
Each more bitter than the one before.
We revel in our loneliness
And drink the swill of co-misery.

But cupid’s arrows are fierce and frequent:
A pack of smokes, a hand-made card,
A shot of bourbon, and a dance of abandon in
the smoky haze of an otherwise empty bar.

I’m wounded, I’m hit,
With a quiver full of tenderness
For my lovely orphans, my drinking chums,
Oh my comrades and amigos!

To toast the love this day forgets
At two a.m. it is February 15th,
But still I call out to the bartender
“Eight more pickled eggs!”

Ripon, February 1994

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