"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

This Imperfect

This Imperfect

     after Daphne Gottlieb

I drive by this apartment
on my way home. The window
big and blank and bare
stark yellow light greets my eyes
in the 10 o’clock dark. Elvis
swings his legs to the seconds.

He is the only object to exist in that space
on the wall
smiling at me
in the night
on the road. And so,

the world kills me.

I sit down to write about it, about how
every day we are at war and guns are on fire and animals flee their homes
about how men are beaten / about how
women are battered / about how children
are drowned and bitten and how we are all left abandon and
kittens get their heads cut off and puppies cleaned in dishwashers

and what I wrote was
I love you.

The world doesn’t have
enough of these. I don’t
have enough
of these / haven’t given
enough of these.

I sit down and try to write about
something more / about how
love and faith and hate are bombs
tied to men and women and children
used as animals / to soak the world in blood
and when I write passion
I think of you
I love you
how I want to blow sweet bombs all over your body
and my pen sprouts fireworks
and marks the sky out with your constellation
and I hate myself for it

I love you so much
I once stood by
and watched you chase other women
offered you advise on what to do
so you could get rid
of love too.
I was your third wheel date on Chinese night
I was the phone-a-friend date when you needed directions
to impress the girl you once dated in high school
to impress the girl who was reading some book
to impress the girl who was gardening / making potato boxes
to impress the girl who was taking pictures / who was cute and blonde and not single
who later told me how you tried to kiss her
to impress the girl who paints / who was also cute and brunette and engaged

I love you so much this
becomes my agenda. I love you so much and this
isn’t a poem about breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular cancer
and I love you so much this
isn’t a poem about genocide and war and religion
and I love you so much this
isn’t a poem about ending capitalism
     starting a revolution
     smashing gender roles
     stating the obvious

It’s a poem about
     staring in the window
     of a stranger and watching Elvis swing
     his plastic hips to seconds to minutes to hours to days

to tell you
to be next to you
because kittens and puppies and babies are all about
making the world a little more perfect
because when I come home
when I close the door
and I think of Elvis and time and it’s you and me and our son
the world is little more perfect.

Stacey Walker taught college composition and literature for 13 years in Southeast Missouri. In 2013, she moved, with her husband and son, back to St. Louis where she continues to lecture and teach at the college level.

Cover photo by Darrin Henein on Unsplash



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