Jennifer Mattern

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Not love (a sestina)

Yes, I would rather sleep alone than fight

and this is why I sleep alone. A drunk?

Not too late, my first last career. I write

already, my prerequisite word sea

dotted by empty green bottles. But sex.

You were saying? I liked it with you. Love--

 

damn that beast! No prerequisite for love.

It needs nothing, not even us. Why fight

when I could sleep on it, on you, have sex

in a dream with a belligerent drunk,

then wake to your gentle coffee? Your sea

is still my sea, though “you’re right,” I can’t write.

 

I am saying, dear, who gives a text? Write

what you want or don’t write at all. I love

our love for its constance despite us, sea

change after spare change. I don’t have the fight

that you need to keep you in check, no drunk

fists here, battle scars. I choose sleep, then sex.

 

And sex? I can get that in my dreams. Sex,

stupid sex, fuck you, fuck me, fuck that. Write

of love that’s sailed with no plan for port. Drunk

on wine or nothing, I remain your love,

still mute, still dumb, no hope, no cash, no fight.

I remain your love across idiot seas.

 

Poets write this way and so do drunks. Sea!

Grief! Lost shoes! The Titian mound of her sex!

But see, you can die now, give up the fight:

this sweaty, besotted poet who writes

smileys 'round wounds? She bleats of you, love.

Yes, you have pissed off this poet, this drunk,

 

so she will no more speak of logic. Drunk

on its own horsetail brew, logic. Sea,

and see what I mean? What lasts? Only love,

without our help. Refusing demands. Sex

we have some say in, still. Don’t you dare write

of her, whoever she will be. I’ll fight

 

only then, bar fight on the brain. I’m drunk

on waiting for you to write. Heart at sea,

no due course. Sex, we have some say. Not love.