An Incomplete Understanding of Love, With Footnotes
Embarrassing confessions aside, love is a hazardous endeavor. Consider that neighbor whose personal history is defined by a husband’s absence and memories of his fists. All my life I’ve seen women sell themselves in one way or another just to survive. Sellers in name only; they actually pay the price then argue it’s all worth the cost. Love is transitory enough for us to miss its presence yet motionless enough to mimic our stubbornness. So collect compliments like trophies; swallow insults and shit them out as gold. It’s a valid coping mechanism, really.
A moment, together or apart, can define a relationship forever. Save the sweetest lies for yourself, tell everyone else the truth. Language without communication is a subtle form of sabotage. The problem lies not with silence, but the words we force to fill it.
Beware of kisses that feign innocence. And the javelins we eventually sink into each other’s hearts. Do not apologize. Allow tension to linger in the house like the comfortable dust nobody’s ever willing to clean.
Women can pick out the faults in a man like they’re picking out chunks of unwanted tomato from a salad, and then call it intuition because that sounds better than typecasting. Whatever. I liken love to a helium balloon untethered, doubt to the open blue sky into which it optimistically floats. Keep rising and don’t look down. Don’t ever look down.
_______________________________________  You can’t see it until it’s already too late. The hunger for it, gnawing the corners of common sense. Suddenly you’re praising the grace of the unmade bed, all restraint lost in the narrows between mattress and wall.
 We want to believe that without love we’d all disappear. But reality is that without love, life goes on. We go on.
 Treat a person like a dog and eventually they’ll bite.
 Sooner or later a couple has nothing to say so they swallow the needle and thread that stitches them together.
 If the past is a rope hanging between us, it can easily become a noose.
About this Poem
This poem cannot bring back the past. This poem cannot make the sun move more quickly or slowly through the sky, cannot alter time. This poem cannot erase a painful childhood or make adulthood palatable. This poem will not clean messes, pay rent, keep secrets, or conjure magic. It won’t find you a friend, not even if you recite it thrice in front of a mirror. It won’t even be my friend and I wrote the damned thing. This poem won’t change luck, call for a cab, or drum up bail money. This poem does not pay attention. It is not a good listener. It fails to keep quiet or give sound advice. This poem will cheat at cards, drink the last beer in the fridge and leave the toilet seat up. This poem is not domesticated. All night you hear it brooding, craving freedom, cursing under its breath and begging to be released. Let it go.
-- Adrian S. Potter writes poetry and short fiction. He is the author of the fiction chapbook Survival Notes (Červená Barva Press, 2008) and winner of the 2010 Southern Illinois Writers Guild Poetry Contest. Some publication credits include Interrobang?!, Clare, burntdistrict and Kansas City Voices. Additional propaganda can be found at http://adrianspotter.squarespace.com/