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The Girlfriend Experience
My girlfriend asked me if I loved her,
But I could not answer - you see, I always
Keep my cards close to my chest; like the best
Poker player.

No-one could possibly have such a blank expression
When asked life's most important questions.

"Tell me, does anything ever remain?"
"Grains in a coffee cup," was the only answer I could give.

I took her to New York City last Christmas.
She twirled around the ice-rink like a flower blowing
In life's kingly wind.

"Do you love me?" again she asked.
"You know I can't answer that question."
"So, it's a yes, then?"

There were cars big as stars,
There were skyscrapers shiny as chrome.
And then... then there was her.

You see, when faced with naked emotion,
Both within and without, sometimes one
Can only stare. Have a blank expression,
Like a painter's canvas before color is
Masterly applied.

Color would look so perfect on this fresco,
But I'm afraid of being completed, finished.
Initially admired then stored in some back room;
Deemed not beautiful enough,
For silver can never shine the brightest.
I did not yet understand that the sky,
A mighty canvas rolling, gives its gold
To all who look at it; poor or rich man,
Those who experience godly peace,
Or hell's desperate dark.
When beauty is there we must treasure it,
But not its self possess. But still I kept my cards
Hidden, locked away in some heartly vault.

I was so occupied that I did not notice that the plaster
Was drying, so the buon fresco might never be finished.

The thought of being a writer was my labor,
And love it consumed.
Was she merely Armani draped over my rigid,
Unbending arm?

I supposed I wanted the fame of Kerouac, or Hesse,
Without applying the effort their work deserved.
Wanting to drink in coffee houses with a facial glow,
Recognized by passers-by and rambling drunks.
Much preferable than having to summon gods and demons;
Alone in my room. The cold winter biting.
A writer not a reader. I never read the pages held within.

That was my last Christmas with her.
She died of meningitis.
The giornata had dried.
And if only I had had the courage to tell her
That all the cards I kept obscured inside
Were hearts.

(Have I failed because I have spoken more about myself than her?)
Anson Clark
Published in Issue 32