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apparently i'm not an actor, or a conquistador

by Lauren Singer

it's not for lack of trying
that i find myself alone now.

looking back, i realize so much was at stake.
november seems colder than it ever was before,
and i cling to past weeks that seemed like years ago.

and where are you now?
absent and angry, hurling punches from the hip.

at first, i wanted to conquer you.
stoic and beautiful, quiet.
smoking alone, disaffected and concerned,
about what it was, i never asked.
i just wanted to accomplish you.

i started small, finding ways to accompany you,
sharing cigarettes outside cold, dark buildings
where small-talk had to be made,
eyes had to search for meaning,
and my dilated pupils sought yours out for understanding.

it was because i had been hurt so hard
that i made you my endeavor.
your soft expressions and innocent eyes
made you seem impenetrable and untouched by
any harshness the world could ever throw.
i never imagined you could bleed me dry of my security.

people would enquire as to how i broke you,
your smile reached so far across your face
that they saw i must have plucked some hidden string
to make you mine, to make them see that
you were human.

even now i find it hard to believe
that under layers and layers of tightly-wound thread
you are flesh like me.
you seem so indestructible, so broken.
a paradox of skin and bone, pain and comfort.

and when i slept beside you
wrapped myself around your bony legs and
rested my head between the hardened indent of your chest,
autonomy reacting with the up and down motion
of your exaggerated breath...

i found myself to be the conquered.

how it came to be that way i never knew or asked.
when things are going well we often forget to stop to think,
to muse over the possible drawbacks.
i naively thought that nothing
could ever be the ruin of this perfection.

but we do stupid things, apparently.
we get drunk and fall apart and kiss the parted lips
of some new circumstantial event.
broken apologies and revenge, sideways looks
from the corners of eyes that pretend we don't see
the other one approaching.

the deeply subjective questions you find so easy to ask
can never seem to be genuinely answered by my shakey words
and failing articulation.
don't put me on the spot with your improvization.
you once loved me because i wasn't an actor.

you always cling to serendipity,
but i'm a premeditated fool.

let me be honest in telling you that i'm sorry.
we've both played the martyred role
and we hated it equally, so let's quit while we're ahead.

honestly, i never anticipated this.
all i wanted was to get you alone and pick your brain,
i was not ready to let you into mine.

and now that you're inside,
do you hate what you see? do you regret me?

that's what i would have asked,
if you gave me just a little more time.
that's what i would have asked you.

11/01/2005

Posted on 11/01/2005
Copyright © 2022 Lauren Singer

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Jared Fladeland on 01/30/08 at 06:16 AM

epic. and honest

Posted by Ken Harnisch on 04/23/08 at 04:23 AM

You write the most searingly honest and vulnerable poetry, Lauren...i am amazed at both its construct and its content, over and over and over again

Posted by Jo Halliday on 05/25/09 at 04:19 AM

I love your poems so much, and this one is the best, the best.. somehow here both are equals, and though you never do that I would love to see this from the perspective of him. The tragedy is so sorry when you look back upon it but not when someone else does; by the time you were conquered, he had conquered and lost.

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