Risky Business


So you want to love a poet? I can tell. I see the light in your eyes when I mention it, see how your skin ripples with that frisson of life as you nod enthusiastic assent. I know well this thrill you feel! I can assure you. There is a sort of romance in the idea, an excitement — I know you see, for I have loved a few poets in my life. They are a magical breed, an odd lot who see the world through a slightly different lens. I have loved them, yes — and lived to tell the tale — though perhaps, the reason is that I too am a poet. It is ink that runs through my veins, and I know what it is like to be loved by one who may not truly know what a messy, wonderful, risky thing this loving a poet can be.

I am here to tell you a truth — there is a risk to giving your love to a poet. I admonish you, do not enter her world blindly, seeking to know her heart, drawn by the magic you see like fireflies to tall grass in a summertime back yard. We are a lot of scrappers. We are able spies. We are thieves. We will do whatever it takes to ply our lyrical trade, to work our spells and create our poetic art. You — especially if we are in love with you, too — are not safe from our trickster ways! Consider this fair warning, we are good at what we do. There is no other way, it is in our genes, in our blood, and it is what you risk, when we choose to share our hearts with you.

A clever poet will a rifle through your pockets, scrabble through your text messages, raid your innocent (and not so innocent) conversations —  for language, for phrases that either please our ears or prick our skin. We’ll even steal from those odd and funny things you mumble when you’re talking in your sleep. We’ll carry pocket notebooks, and stubby pencils, licking the lead once or thrice before we jot them down on scraps of paper, fill our own pockets, steal napkins and matchbooks, text ourselves  to catch thousands of letters and words, just so we can stash them away, sift them through our fingers, like a king counting gold coins in the depths of his castle, as the magpies look greedily on.

We will watch you hawkishly, like spies, alert for the slightest change in your facial expressions. We’ll make note of the way your body moves when you shift in your chair, or stroll toward us up the driveway. We’ll watch the way your mouth moves when you smile, and the way your breath catches in your throat when you say our name. We will record every hungry, probing kiss, every blazing touch that sets our skin on fire, we will make ebony ink from the ashes and and we will spill that ink, in copious amounts, attempting to capture the essence of these moments with you. We are bound by our very nature to repeat this exercise a hundred thousand times or more, for as long as you allow us to, chasing your light, your darkness, your essence, with our ink stained fingers gripping worn out pens.

We will steal from you, the notes you scratch on the edges of the pages in your favorite books, your late night love song dedications, your starry-eyed gazes at the full moon in the midnight sky, your rumbling growls of desire and your steamy sighs of satisfied release. We will listen in, as you sing in the shower, or tell jokes to your friends, we will draw from your your childhood stories, like pirates stealing jewels and gold doubloons. We will take whatever we can — your beating heart, your faltering breath, your ability to think, to form sentences, to express yourself clearly — so intoxicated will you be on the air we breathe. Are you prepared to surrender these things, to love us? For this is the risk of loving a poet, I can tell you there’s nothing more true. The costs should be carefully weighed, before you choose.

But take heart my friend, for the rewards of loving a poet are many, and may well outweigh the price you’d pay. The treasure lies in the music of our verses, the passion in our lovemaking, the soft sounds that spill from the backs of our throats, the ecstasy of meeting our eyes across a crowded room. These things will be worth the risk, if you truly love one of us.   We will help you see the world with new eyes, show you how the trees sing to the night sky, and the way the shadows march across the hill in a fiery sunset. We will point out the way the sunlight creates the shadow, defining the beautiful curve of a face, and how a dotted yellow line unfurls like ribbon down an endless highway — we’ll make you want to chase it like a playful cat. You’ll find our inky fingerprints on your tingling skin, and note how our spoken rhymes match the rhythm of your beating pulse. We will be the drums that move your hips and feet, and remind you how wonderful it is just to be alive.

So come with us, if you dare. Fall in love with a poet, and dance along the edge of the sea. Empty your pockets, your heart, and your mouth of the words we need, and we will repay you a million times over, with music and beauty and love. We will write you into our lives with indelible ink, and you will be the poem we create. Keep calm, and fall in love!