I was ten, skinny, red-headed,
Freckled. In a big black Buick,
Driven by a big grown boy, with a necktie, she sat
In front of the drugstore, sipping something
Through a straw. There is nothing like
Beauty. It stops your heart. It
Thickens your blood. It stops your breath. It
Makes you feel dirty. You need a hot bath.
I leaned against a telephone pole, and watched.
I thought I would die if she saw me.
Love, whether unsated, tainted, feted or fated, longs to be voiced, and what better way than through poetry, writes John Elder.
FALLING in love is said to be a form of madness, but in a good way. The sweet agony and all that. What rot. You either win your darling and set the world a’trembling with carnal splendour … or you don’t.
And if you don’t, you wander about aimlessly, wearing the smile of a corpse at a crime scene. Getting on with your life means seeking comfort from fatty foods, firearms or poetry. In my bittersweet time I have had a profound enthusiasm for all three.
For the record, I don’t shoot little rabbits or anything with a pulse. I just like the feeling of the world disappearing as a big gun goes off in my hands. And if that’s not sexual sublimation, I don’t know what is.
Largely though, I’m into the deadliest thing of all, love poems – writing them, reading them, wondering what in god’s name they are good for.
It started with a kiss when I was seven years old. There was a girl in my year 2 class called Ann Melville. At the end of the year, two things happened. The class was visited by Santa Claus. And dear Ann went about the room kissing various boys on the cheek. I don’t know how many were on her kiss list, but I was one of them. And she set me alight.