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Love Songs
for Drugstore Bears

If love were really costly, the poor would live alone,
with none to whisper, "Darling. . ." or call them on the phone.
If kisses cost gold pieces, the rich could float a loan,
but if love were all that costly
poor folks would be alone.

But is love so cheap and plentiful we can throw it in the trash?
Could the market for love futures be demolished in the crash?
If lovers think the world of love, do we think of them as rash?
If you won the big love jackpot
would you turn it back for cash?

Still . . . you may think love's expensive,
when you first find out the fee:
pay with your life — but it's worth it:
that bondage sets you free.
(That's why even us drugstore bears can fall in love.)

AIRWARE
Here they are:
virtual messages sealed into a cyberbottle
Every one a star,
coded, uptight, e-mailed on the east wind out to vaporland.
(Somebody's mother wrote that? Can that be right?)
They're here, close as your hand,
hidden, unsuspected (and therefore unrejected):
Passion, humor, desperation, a caress —
folly's largesse
is waiting in ambush, just a touch away.
But the soft paw pats only air.
Hey! You! Anybody there?
Come play!

SEA SHELL
I found a shell once, on the beach,
like no other shell — that is, I mean
like no shell that I've ever seen:
pretty, fragile, and with something it might teach.

You see, the shell itself was gone,
abraded away by the ocean's tireless hand
worn off by time and waves and sand
till only its pearly heart still lingered on.

I'd hope that very shell is what I'll come to be
Once life and time and love have done their work on me.

ONLINE DATING
It's so easy to make contact,
but so chancy to attach.
Is it safe to feel emotion?
Are we caught — or do we catch?
How wierd having computers
determine who we match!

Still, I checked my personality
(Yeah, I took that little test.)
wondering how machines can tell me
which guy to like the best
when we're all so complicated
. . . and I'm different from the rest.

But I'll try to get to know you
and if you will do your part
maybe we can get acquainted
at this online shopping mart.

I'll be careful of your feelings
— but please don't break my heart.

WHAT TO DO?
I gave away the dog that bit me.
I won't wear shoes unless they fit me.
But you — what can I do about you?
I'm not sure I can live without you.

DOWRY
My dowry holds but three small coins.
They are sweet language, peace, and love.
But poetry's been out of style these hundred years,
And no one sets much store by peace, today.

Yet love is still a precious coin
That few can keep
And few can spend
And fewer still can give away.

MILD REMONSTRANCE
I saw you two together
At a restaurant last night.
And I don't want to worry you
And I don't want to fight
But I noticed you were hugging
And when I saw you kiss . . .

Well, I hired a man to shoot you
And he isn't paid to miss!

HOW DO I KNOW?
How could I know what love was? I was never been struck by lightning,
never been swept away. Though I'd known the frightening
sense of loss, I'd always held the reins.
And there were never flowers. We never drank champagne.

How could I guess what love was? Down here on the ground
wandering at sea level, I'd never heard the sound
of celestial music when I kissed you.
But when you aren't with me, I know how much I've missed you.

How can we guess what love is? We cannot live a song.
Our ending isn't written. This may not last for long.
I don't know if you'll stay or go. Perhaps you'll choose to roam.
I just know that when I'm with you, I feel so much at home.

AFTERWARD
I lied. I know what love's about. It's not about champagne.
It's how you gentled at my touch, and your footfalls in the rain,
The memory of a sidelong glance, a look that locked our eyes,
A tone of voice, a moment when I saw through your disguise.
Though we avoid each other now, and though we stand apart
I hear a cough and know it's you — that small sound hurts my heart.
Though it ended as it started, and though I've loved in vain,
Well . . . if my life should ever heal . . . perhaps I'll try again.

WE'RE FRIENDS
I'd like to be a friend to you
To tell you when you're looking good,
Suggest a haircut now and then
But never hint you're getting fat.
I have a friend who is like that.

Please let me be the kind of friend
Who helps you when your hands are full,
Who doesn't grumble or get cross,
Who pitches in when it's a chore.
My friend has done all that — and more.

I'd like to be the kind of friend
You turn to when you need to talk —
Who listens, sympathizes, cares,
But never gossips about you.
About my friend, all that is true.

And if I know what friends should do,
How they should act, how kind they are,
And anything about a friend,
The credit is not due to me.
You taught me what a friend can be.

THE NEW ROAD
When the new road beckons, saying, "Come on,"
one of us may answer, "Sure, I'm eager,
and the horizon here is meager."

Beyond me, a bird lights and leaps into the air
again. But there,
like a whisper saying, "I moved on," its little footprint remains
in the dust still damp from the night's rains.

Just so, you may move on, too.
But whether we choose old roads or new,
inescapably I will retain my memory of you.

WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH THIS PICTURE?
Hey, I think of you so much it makes me fairly daffy.
Makes me want to pull my hair and stretch my bones like taffy!
Makes me want to buy you toys and have a little fun.
Makes me want to flirt with boys. Makes me want to run.
But when I try to skip on by and pass you with a shrug,
I find instead that I have stopped to grab myself a hug!

DESIRE
Like Henderson, the Rain King, my spirit shouts, "I want! I want!"
And there it stops, amazed and daunted,
not knowing what it was I wanted.
Do I seek lightning, storm, and rain
— rejecting boredom, seeking pain,
then craving comfort back again?
Do I want power, movement, bliss
— the chest of gold, the lover's kiss?
The strength to rise above derision?
The mind's bright spark, the brilliant vision?
The thrill of speed, deep meditation?
Another heart in sweet relation?
To keep it all? To let it go?
To eat, to starve, to learn, to know?

At my last breath, I wonder — will I still be haunted
by blind desire . . . still craving all those things I wanted?

THANKS, BUT . . .
The flowers you sent me were lovely.
The perfume and candy were great.
But you didn't call me for two whole years.
I'm married to George now.
That's fate.

LONG BODY
Hey Dude, stand near me.
Don't fear me — no need to up your defenses.
I just want to listen for the crinkling current that runs your senses.
Now . . . a little nearer, till your electric fences
make my skin tingle,
and maybe I can tempt a jazz jolt to jump the space between us as you brush past to mingle
with the crowd. Ohboy! That illicit candlepower!
Not even enough for you to miss —
so, man, that's permissable.
Don't fear, sir.
C'mere . . . stand a little nearer.

SOFT SOULS
Size zero-zero Mary-Janes
For tiny, tiny feet.
And little jogging shoes for jocks
Too little to compete:

Such useless, evanescent
Trifles say to us, in part
That shoes too small to touch the floor
Must always touch the heart.

HOW CAN WE BEAR LOVE?
You pairs of bears on drugstore shelves, though you only cost $3,
and you may wear no underwear and you may have no collars,
I'll bet your love is just as sweet as any boutique bears'
For your hearts know what my heart knows:
we need someone who cares.

jumelle


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