A Veteran of Love and Self-Pity

By Shieva Salehnia

No one writes as beautiful of words for me
as they do for the damned.
The heartbreak, more beautiful than the bloom.

It ain’t every day Paris of Troy comes knocking,
even if his timing’s off.
He says he hadn’t had that much to drink.
And for me,
everything’s tipping and falling.

It’s hard to forget how good he
made me feel when he laid me
down on the hood of his car
underneath the warm summer stars multitude
and put his hand up
my shirt.
It was
hot, soft,
decent — righteous almost,
like he was seeing me, and through his eyes,
revealing me,
newly from the chrysalis.
I felt like I was 17 again, awkwardly bodied,
pretentiously spirited and
somehow motionless in time.
My heart beating in my chest
pounded like hammer on tin.
A film of dust and sweat mixed with adrenaline,
amphetamine on my breath.

A sharp inhale betrayed the chemical draw my system made towards his.
I closed my eyes quickly and kissed him in fear of being found out,
fear of him getting the scent of my desperation,
that I was eager for him to stick around, to call me just because.
He would know I was attracted to his very essence.
Men are dogs.
Like animals, Homo sapiens sniff out their partners by piss and
hormone and pheromone.
Why we all think we were so above it,
up here on two feet,
beats me.

Wish I had taken a little more time to get my head right.
As if five more minutes would have made a difference,
would have sobered me up.
The only thing left to do now is to drink.

Maybe I’m stubborn, but I don’t want to forget:
His brazen nature,
his steely eyes on my light brown skin,
the way he moved his head and craned his neck down to
put his lips on mine.
There was the brown tuft of hair on his chest.
his white skin,
Drinking, smoking.
Sagging balls with fine brown hairs, and
tiny penis you could stick anywhere.

Just like Achilles,
inside, I have been a time bomb,
melodramas left unexpressed in my sobriety,
manifestos written driving home alone at night.
Deciding what term of endearment to call my Paris,
I decide none at all.
It would please him too much to know
he is always welcome in my thoughts.

Now sad and drunk all by myself,
weak woman that I am,
I wanted to laugh with him, but mostly at him,
in my red wine-stained stupor.
The lips the teeth the tip of the tongue,
all fucking purple.
If I slowed myself down anymore with distraction,
I’d be dead.

Paris sought someone
to make him feel good all the time and
at every turn, I do and have done the same.
The truth is Paris and me ain’t it for each other,
as many times as I could wish it untrue.
If I could wish it were a lie.
But there are already too many lies.

Sunburnt and turned over,
I send text messages with courage but
really, I’m terrified.
I’ve been having sex in a single bed,
enforced celibacy on myself —
just listening to a bunch of Todd Rundgren and
taking cold showers.
I need to stop
having dreams about someone that I don’t even know.

Drunken stupor, heartburn aggravated,
and tired. Just tired.
Impressions of other people’s jokes about me distantly run
through my mind’s laugh track, and
out my mouth,
faintly in the background of my thoughts.

Open your gullet,
Helen. It’s the only way
to drink this cheap beer.
A haiku that I wrote for myself,
the weak woman that I am.
This poem,
I wrote it for you.

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