Friday, April 24, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project, Day 24: Craig Arnold

Today's poem comes to us from Craig Arnold:

Happily Ever After

After the hot wax in the dark
dripped on the shoulder after the trials
the seeds sorted the river emptied
the Queen of the Dead’s black box opened
after the swoon the deathlike sleep
after he kisses her back to life
and they soar in perfect ecstasy
up to being gods together

now it is all and ever shall be
perfect but given an eternity
together might they not discover
that what they wanted was less each other
than want itself yearning and struggle
pursuit and failure and falling at last
into each other triumphantly

If love lasted forever
if we lost the taste of loss
what would we do for sweet or bitter
how would we give infinity a flavor
how would we spend our endless number
of second chances would we feel free
to ply our casual cruelties

They call or they don’t call
They make dates they never plan to keep
They drink they gossip they sleep their way
through a circle of friends that grows each year
smaller soon they begin to find each other
embarrassing like old school friends
or cellmates feeling awkwardly
that they have shared too much

until at last after an epic
encounter in Tangier the all-night quarrel
the tears and the accusations and the spilled
peppermint tea they give themselves
permission to lose touch

He starts a band records hit
acoustic-techno numbers that ache
with longing unspeakable and infinite
He moves in with a girl whose fridge is filled
with Dr. Pepper her apartment
papered with Dr. Pepper posters
and old tin Dr. Pepper signs

She gets into therapy at first
a full-time patient then with her own
practice she dates one of her clients
a boy who shaves his crotch and armpits
not to become a man she keeps
the keys to every place she’s ever lived
in a box she can no longer lift

It happens now and again
they are drawn at the same time
to the same place the ruined temple
the sidewalk café beside the Spanish Steps
that made the most exquisite mushroom crêpes
the park bench under the cherry trees
even the small Southwestern airport
They miss each other by a day
an hour a minute even

And as they sit and sip
glasses of water in which the ice
has long since melted as they wait
half-aware that they might be missing
something important as they signal
their servers to bring their separate checks
a cold thought passes over them
the shadow of a cloud across a lake

Perhaps this is not paradise
but the perfect punishment dreamed up
by love and death to cheat them out of both
no end no consummation but to play
over and over the feel of falling
toward each other endlessly

Craig Arnold's new book of poems, Made Flesh, is now available from Copper Canyon. He is spending this spring and summer wandering through Japan on a US-Japan Creative Artists Residency, working on a book about volcanoes. He teaches at the University of Wyoming. Follow his near-death (and near-life) experiences at

You can read more of Craig's poems here.

Please head over to Tattoosday to see Craig's tattoos here.

1 comment:

junyong said...

Great poem. And those are some pretty cool tattoos you got there.