"I - love - you"
Her words came prepackaged,
with "sell by" date,
exposing me, as if she'd turned on the lamp,
caught, fumbling with the wrapper.
We substituted sex for love
and never noticed the difference.
Just like the real thing.
19 January 1980
Coke, of course, marketed itself as “the real thing”. It’s just words. What does that even mean, real? Have you ever stopped to think how many words you use in a day you really don’t understand? Love has been my whipping boy for years but I expect this was my first attempt to express myself. Just because someone says they love you doesn’t mean they don’t love you or think they do but what they call love and what you call love can be poles apart. An excerpt from my novel The More Things Change:
Imagine if all sorts of plebs and proles and bottom-feeders could go around letting words mean whatever they feel they should at the time: bad is good, sick is good, rancid is good. Love is still love but what does that even mean? One day he says he loves her and he’s sincere—he's not just saying it to get into her pants (that would be an added bonus)—and as he’s saying the words he’s surprised to discover he’s not entirely opposed to the possibility that he might actually love her because what else could make him feel this good? and it does feel good and because he says he loves her (and why would he say it if he didn’t mean it?) she assumes he loves her in the same way and to the same degree as she loves him—assuming she does love him—which is good and why's he's taking so long getting into her pants?
Seven months after this poem was written my wife gave birth to our daughter. Which means she was two months pregnant when I wrote this poem. I wonder if I knew then. It’s quite possible. I was happy to learn I was going to become a father. Very much so. So where did this poem come from?