One-sided Relationships

by Jessica Lohafer

I can tell the book is almost done. I hate all of the poems.

Not because they’re bad! Or not ready! But because I’ve officially reached the stage where I absolutely loathe even the sight of this thing. My friend Robert described the relationship like this, “Listen. These poems have been having the time of their life, kicking their feet up and resting on your couch. They’re eating all the food in your house. It’s time for them to get up and off the page, and start making you money!” I am so ready for them to get off (and then back onto) the page. I want it to be the end of February, a place where future Jessica has everything lined up and just gets to read them…it’s sunny there. I’m so relaxed! Where did that mimosa come from….

But for now, I wait. I have been so engrossed in this project that another friend has begun to (lovingly) refer to the book as my “boyfrienduscript.” I like that. I wouldn’t be much of a girlfriend right now, as it is. I came home from the computer lab yesterday, forearms covered in ink, eyes bloodshot. All I had eaten was a bagel with cream cheese and a peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie bar. I’m pretty sure I rounded that meal out with a pizza. And four glasses of wine. And five episodes of How I Met Your Mother. And half a box of organic oreos. The problem is, when I’m not working on the manuscript, I’m useless. I forget everything. I lose everything. I fall asleep at eight.

It doesn’t matter. In exactly nine days, I will be standing before friends, family and whoever else, with a finished book. Completely complete. The release is going to be at the Honeymoon, behind the Pepper Sisters. It’s on February 24th, at 8 pm. I am thrilled to announce that I’m not performing alone; my good friends Troi Gale and Sarah Goodin are going to be there as well. You know what else will be there? My book. Printed. Done. Ready to get off the page and make me some money, or something like that. Since I’ve been so distant from this blog, here’s a sneak peek, the title poem of my upcoming boyfriend, er, I mean book.
You will come, won’t you?

What we Cannot Keep

In the dream he comes back
rejoicing
her David running through the streets
all of mine all for me
no interlude no need
Not a wasted breath about
the three months since passed
he was never gone

He was never here
even the typewriter feigns ignorance
fills its entire page with everything that
isn’t about him at all
She does not wonder where he’s gone

In the evenings, men walk her home
put her to bed
Keep hands above hips,
they both know there’s no need to try
After she sends them home,
she wonders what an orange could taste like
Is it ripe?
Will it give itself to my mouth,
if I want it?

Any number of warning signs:
a fixation on Etta James
her smoking too many cigarettes
the horrible poetry – god awful
self-loathing and needlessly dismal –
She rejects it all
you can not be as beautiful as I remember you

He is, unfortunately,
exactly as beautiful as she remembers him
Better even, now that you refuse to try

Should you choose to return,
here are your instructions:
Play her some Stevie Wonder
loudly from the stereo of your car
Call her by her full name
Tell her you love her too many times
let her get irritated at it, embarrassed
Do it at work when the lobby is full of customers
Buy her flowers, say,
I’m here, baby, I’m right here
Eat her out till she doesn’t know what to think
Repent.
Pick her out in a crowd,
fall on your knees
make a scene
bring oranges.

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