7 Minutes in Love (02-11-12)

On Saturday, February 11th, Space 55 continues its series of “7 Minutes in…” with a Valentine-themed show called “7 Minutes in Love”. I was very excited to participate in the show and had expressed my interest in signing up to read, but work scheduling issues have come up since, which are out of my hands, and I cannot go. This came as a blow to me as several friends and family had expressed an interest in coming to the show and I had selected a different batch of poems than my usual Gothic stuff which was more in tune with the theme of the show. So, to make up for this, I have decided to just post what I was going to read and offer a little explanation to put them into context. What follows in a slightly more expanded version of what I would have said since there are no time constraints here…
In the early aughts, around 200-2001, I met and befriended a young lady named Alexa. We were both lonely and disenfranchised people who believed that we deserved better than we were getting in life and since misery loves company became fast friends, which raised a few eyebrows since she was 19 years old at the time and I was well into my 30’s. Even so, we bonded over our similarities, as we were both writers, with dark imaginations and rock & roll aspirations, and we both hated being stuck in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
We spent every waking moment with one another either in person or on the phone and pretty much ignored or defied everyone around us. Even though we were primarily platonic, there was much talk of love, marriage, and running away to Spain some day to start an artistic community. We went out every night, usually bar hopping in Hollywood (Florida, not California) and since we were discreet and inconspicuous, nobody gave us any trouble, except for the Hard Rock Café, who banned us for swapping drinks. When we decided to slow down for the night, we would go back to her aunt’s house, where she was staying, and drink Jack Daniels while watching TV, chasing the whiskey with orange juice shots to mask our boozy breath—not very effective in retrospect. Usually, every night ended up on the enclosed back porch where we would smoke cigarettes, listen to the Stooges, Johnny Cash or Whiskeytown and talk about our dreams, fantasies and loves or read our latest work to each other.
She would never let me leave before sunrise and would often hide my watch so I wouldn’t know what time it was and sit on my lap so I couldn’t get up from my chair to leave. Everything seemed sweet and idyllic until we crossed the line and got physical, then all of a sudden things changed and she became confused about how she felt about me and I couldn’t understand what the problem was and so things quickly fell apart. We tried briefly to “just be friends”, but when I couldn’t accept that nothing had transpired, she became mean and spiteful and we parted ways under a dark cloud. This haunted me for quite some time afterward and one of the ways I dealt with the emotional hurt was by writing poetry about it. Some of it was good and some of it was not; I hope that the selections I have chosen are among the former.
The first piece I have selected was written as a sort of playful (almost childish) tribute to my friend. Although her name is Alexa, she liked to use the nom de plume Polly P. Burns, bad pun fully intended (kids these days, I tell ya..LOL) so I refer to her in the piece as Polly. Actually, it’s really a song, for which I even came up with a nursery rhyme-like melody that I would sing to her in the car as we drove around Florida at night. The original title was “Paean to Polly”, but I later changed it to “Pollyphilia” after the “Hynerotomachia Poliphili” of Italian Renaissance writer Francesco Colonna.

“Pollyphilia”
I love my Polly, oh yes I do / No one’s as pretty or smart as you
We go out dining and play at pool / We muse on past lives and laugh at poo
We smuggle J.D. into your room / Chase it with O.J. to mask the fumes
We watch the X-Files and Lenny Bruce / Wax philosophic and get real juiced

Narrow hands just like an icon / I love her more than my bacon
Eyes of absinthe, green and cloudy / Lips like cushions, flush and pouty
Skin so soft and far complexioned / She’s as sweet as crème confection

Florida’s boring, but we’ve got smokes / Long Island Iced-Teas, sun-ups and jokes
We’ll go to Vegas and make our name / Then move to Madrid, grow old in Spain
I love my Polly, oh yes I do / No one can move me quite like you do
Verlaine and Rimbaud, that’s me and you / Here’s hoping this time things go more smooth

The next piece was right after the parting of ways and reflects my conflicted emotions over the whole thing. It is separated into two parts, the first of which is called “Fort Lauderdale” and deals with the relationship as I perceived it to be. The second part is called “Broceliande” and uses the metaphor of the relationship between Merlin and Nimue (a/k/a Viviane or the Lady of the Lake). Theirs was another May/December relationship that, depending on which version you read, was either genuine or a ploy by the young Nimue to use Merlin’s infatuation with her to glean as much knowledge of the Craft from him before she sealed him up in a tree. The two together are entitled “Decembermay”.

“Decembermay”
I. Fort Lauderdale

“Time does not exist here,” you’d say, smiling with lips pursed in pout
Whilst teasingly taking my wristwatch and sidling upon my lap

My protests you mocked and berated, with words of derision and flout
My bitter remarks met with kisses, the worst ones garnering a slap

You bit me and bussed me, but only to sate your whim
Never caring how it would affect me, though you knew it my heart’s desire

You laughed and made sport with your Manny, snuffing his passion’s glim
Changing a lover’s ardor to anger, amorous flames to funeral pyre

The Beguiling of Merlin, by Edward Burne-Jones

II. Broceliande
Piscean, watery enchantress, ardent, lubricious Lady of the Lake
Merlin assotted awaits you, though he knows your kiss means to quell
Nimue, bury me in your joyous garden, once curiosity is slaked
The loving cup you offer over-brims with a philter fell
Eyes of pale green luminescence, searing my soul straight through
Nipples like red Chinese lanterns on hillocks of new-fallen snow
I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, but know that I love you still true
In a place where time is suspended, tho’ forgiveness and love freely flow

This last poem, actually it’s a prose poem, deals with the letting go as filtered through the imagery of Classical Mythology. Think Homer’s Odyssey and you’ll get the idea.

“Bosom Serpent”
Your siren’s call drew me to your side, awash on a pelagic crag in the ocean.
I reached out to pull you onto my ship, but you latched on and dragged me into the deep
Overwhelmed, I was sucked into the undertow of your abject passions and sorrows
I strove for the surface, trying to pull us both aboard, but you burrowed into my breast planting your hungry mouth on my heart
My blood flowed like a fountain in amaranthine streams: a rivulet for each deceit, a cataract for every treacherous kiss
We struggled for some time, I perpetually pushing upwards, and you pulling into the current, making me swallow mouthfuls of salt water and sour mash
Finally, realizing the futility of my plight for one whom did not wish to be saved, I cut loose from your grasp and re-boarded my ship
Even though I traveled far from your lair, I felt you still, deep beneath my flesh, behind my sternum, clawing, gnawing, but only as a mnemonic phantom, inciting your memory with every strain I heard and every woman I saw
At my wit’s end, I made oblations to find the strength to finally cast you out and tear myself from your eidolon embrace
Now you may no longer hold sway in my heart, as I search for unmixt treasures and set sail for friendlier shores

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