“Loving someone is not as hard as you will make it” (guest post)

In my last entry I mentioned the Cantab Lounge open mike. Maybe it’s not the best place to promote a novel, but it’s a wonderful place to listen to poetry and laugh a lot. The participants are mostly young and very funny in between their poems, which are mostly sincere. I heard a poet named Claire Andersen deliver the following kickass poem and was so delighted that I asked her permission to reproduce it here, which she graciously gave.

Claire Andersen

If the Ancients were right,
and madness
is just demons roiling through your brain, filling
in its origami folds with their horns and scaly toes,
breathing sulfuric breath into the gaps between your neurons,
if that’s all true,
then I would love to get twenty minutes alone with whatever minor imp of bad decisions
                convinced me
to start dating men.

That asshole owes me three years of my life back,
and if I can’t roast him over the slow fires of Hell on his own pitchfork,
I’d like him to get a letter
to my nineteen year-old self.

She needs to know
that there is a difference between loving a boy you only-sort-of know
and building an actual relationship
with an actual human male.
The hardest part of one is how much your head hurts after crying into your pillow and playing
                Joni Mitchell too loud,
and the hardest part of the other
is absolutely everything:
it’s opening up about your trust issues to a blank-faced penis-haver
whose dad taught him that trust is what people do when they can’t hold themselves up;
it’s spending two weeks fighting with your favorite boyfriend
about what he’s allowed to call you,
because “baby” is infantilizing and “honey” is what my mom calls me and “kitty cat” contributes
                to a history of dehumanizing women’s sexuality and so do “legs” for that matter, so don’t
                call me “sunshine” ‘cause I’m a damn human being and I’m not your “darling”, either.

Nineteen year-old me, you are terrible at men.
You have no idea how to relate to them and no capacity to learn.
Maybe if you’d ever had male friends, things would be different,
but you didn’t, and they’re not. They’re like this:
you memorizing a ceiling’s water stains at 3am
because you don’t trust your partner enough
to let him catch you sleeping.
You pushing out of your first boyfriend’s sobbing grasp
when you break his selfish heart.
You finally finding a man you can respect
and trading his “I love you”
for an “I’m really quite fond of you.”

Nineteen year-old me, your high school’s fullback was right:
you’re a dyke.
Crushing on the first attractive human to give you the time of day does not make you bisexual,
and neither does thinking that James Marsters was sexy on “Buffy”—that’s just objectively true.
You’re still gay.
Trust me; I have done extensive field research,
so save yourself the trouble.

Save yourself the years of frustrated desire;
the constant, nagging fear of assault;
the panicked doubt of your own ability to love;
the blow jobs.
Save yourself the birth control,
the bruises on your arms,
the disrespect.

Loving someone is not as hard as you will make it,
so please, do me a favor: stick to women.