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