How about that cliché—love gives meaning to life?

That’s okay for those who love or get loved—

Mother Theresa or Sally Ann at the motel off I-93

or Grampa who can whittle you a bird whistle

just like that—but what about everybody else?

It ain’t just a problem for you or me Saturday night



with a pint of premium ice cream or a pint

of non-premium whisky instead of a date—

there’s also the kid who sits in a dark corner,

the woman whose plain face hides a beautiful mind,

the man whose only tender excitement is what

he gives himself, or those with brains blown



by chemicals or their own crazy genes. Can they hire

love—can the government buy enough for them—

or all the do-gooders wrap every one of them

in warmth? The heart not exercised by loving

becomes a stone. Carry it around a week

and all of you sags to the ground.



And how about the other cliché—that God

is love? On top of feeling alone, abandoned,

you think there’s nothing in the universe for you.

Don’t that take the shine off—us poor creatures

alone on this minor planet of our insignificant

solar system in a run-of-the-mill galaxy?



Here’s what you got to do—it’s Preacher Charlie’s

Calisthenics of Love. Oh, you can get

a dog to love you, even treating it like shit—

what does that prove? Practice on a goldfish

or a birch tree. Concentrate affection on a stone.

Love a blade of grass, a cloud, a stretch of sunlight



on the sidewalk, the asshole crushing your foot

on a crowded train. Love a lawyer. Love

a measure of music, the view from a mountain,

a rainbow in a ditch. Start with that love—

make your heart more than meat for grinding

into dog food.  This is Lesson No. 1.

I’m still thinking up the next one.




preacher, love, dates, crazy, universe


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