What are you looking at?
I want some privacy
I don’t want you staring at my
unfinished body like I’m a piece of meat;
I’m not here to be eaten.
I’m not here to be admired like
a cheap, red-light-district
piece of flash fiction.
Not here to be recited to an
ex-heartthrob who said she liked poetry
because you think the only way to win her back
is to stand on her welcome mat
like a sad Christmas caroler,
reading my age-old, recycled material.
I’m not here on the page to be stuffed
in a cozy library cubby
where teenagers whisper
dirty secrets to their crushes
they do not want to be hushed
by the husky librarian
with the unmentionable scar
crisscrossing her forehead,
who probably retired from the
special-ops branch of the military
and knows how to use a checkout pen
as a deadly weapon.
No, I want none of these things;
I’m here to be read,
but I’m not finished yet.
My punctuation relies too heavily
on semicolons; it’s not that I’m
trying to wink at you with
a half-formed emoticon,
my author just thinks they’re sophisticated
and may get him a date
with a literature major
suffering from a grammar craving.
My syntax is bad news;
with each line loose like
the frayed ends of that
Super-Mario shirt you got
in high school, but with too high
a sentimental value to throw away,
at least until you get married.
And my diction is iffy at best;
my writer was on a quest
to find the proper word to
express his “feelings,”
but I guess he got distracted.
There was probably a jar of peanut butter
or a podcast he had to propose to,
lord knows there are
far more pressing issues
than finishing a poem.
But then you came across my paper
and interrupted the ending.
You could help me out of this purgatory.
You could do the right thing.
Please don’t leave me here with the writer.
I suspect that he’ll come back in
a romantic mood and ruin the last stanza,
leaving it a tangled spiderweb
woven by a blind arachnid,
or worse, he’ll try to be creative
and take me in a direction
that mixes metaphors together
as well as chocolate and olives.
I don’t have much to offer;
I’m just a humble bunch of words
thrown carelessly upon a page
stained with coffee
and the bones of poems past.
But I do have some letters you could use.
Maybe you’d arrange them into
a handwritten note to someone
you want to believe in.
Maybe you’d put me in a college essay.
Maybe you’ll make a mistake and send me
in bits and pieces to a once-stranger,
asking for a second chance
or at least an adult favor at 2 am.
But that’s okay.
Anywhere is better than here.