Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Other Man

When i write romantic poetry, it is often inspired by whatever guy i have been foolish enough to let into my life recently. (I promise this is not a bitter, bitchy, Vagina Monologues-style rant. In fact, i can almost guarantee that you will say "Awwww!" at least once by the end. Just keep reading.) However, my poems are never directly about that guy.

For example, in this poem, i am talking about my ex (we'll call him Casey). Most of our relationship was long distance, so we texted a lot. So that was true. And i was living through a hot, humid summer. So that part was true. But all of that beautiful, romantic crap about the text messages tethering me to reality, and feeling at home in him? Yeah. Not true about Casey.

It's never really been true about anyone. I have a highly idealized "muse" who is featured prominently in a lot of my poetry. Some of my male romantic leads are a combination of the guy i'm actually with and this "Other Man". Some of them are just him (we'll call him T.O.M. for short). In fact, i even wrote a poem where i make a sort of oblique reference to T.O.M., saying that i wrote to him because i hadn't met him yet.

Sometimes, i thought that T.O.M. was "the one", some bizzare poetic presentiment of the person i was supposed to be waiting for. Sometimes, i thought i was setting my standards too high, mooning over someone who did not and never would exist. Sometimes, i just thought i was a good writer, and had created a fully-realized male romantic lead that any girl would fall for.

I would start to write a poem about a real moment that i had actually experienced with a flesh-and-blood man who was present in my life (humid day, feeling like i'm dissolving into the atmosphere, Casey texts me, and we're off!). But then, i would begin to add or change things, thinking that the moment would have been so much better if Casey had said this, or if i had felt that, or if these particular thoughts had been in my head at the moment. I embroider reality liberally. I am a poet, after all.

I'm not saying that he's T.O.M., but my latest crush (we'll call him John) has begun to inspire poetry. And so far, i have not felt the need to embroider a single second of it. Every moment spent with John is complete as is. And while i know that there are things still unsaid and moments yet to experience, i don't feel the need to overlay reality with what could and will be.

I'm not saying that John is T.O.M. It's too early to say anything like that. I am saying that he inspires me, and that poems about and moments with him feel complete. And that's got to mean something.

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