National Poetry Month: I Cannot Love You

I used to have this poem memorized. It was originally published by Blood Rose Magazine in 2003, but for years I would start off any readings I did with this poem, wading out into the audience and addressing them personally with the words.

I Cannot Love You

I cannot love you
It would be like
Eating coal
Black dust coating my fingers
Grimy smudges on the glass
As I wash you down
With lye

I cannot love you
It would be like
Sleeping in fire
Swirling ash stinging my nose
Smoke waltzing on my cheeks
As the skin weeps from
My bones

I cannot love you
Because then I would
Confuse the flood for the blizzard
The wind for the rain
The crypt for the cradle
And disease for eudemonia
My dear
(Madness would then strangle every thought.)

But still
I vomit
I choke
I cough — I burn
Drown, shiver
And rot
As the contagion of you
Weakens my blood  
And blights my heart
With your name.

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