A Birthday Card I Won't Be Sending

by Ken Harnisch

Happy birthday
And no, I didn’t forget.

In the past, I’d call you
And leave you an enigmatic message
On the answering machine
And only when you heard my voice a second
Time would you remember who it was.

It’s been awhile, I know;
I’m guessing you believe
I’ve rumbled past your house a time or two
But this time I have to say
It’s been over a decade since
I’ve been within miles
Of where you live.

You kind of wrung all the
Romantic out of me the last time
We talked, and that was fifteen
Years ago. I suppose it is a victory
Of sorts to concede it took
A long time to understand
That was your point in the first place.

But alas, I know you better than
You probably know yourself. There is
A destructive streak in you that
Inevitably follows
The starlight trail of love to its quick, embittered end
The men you put on pedestals often fall
Harder than the simplest faith in their humanity
Would deserve. No one ever pulled the rope around
Any statue faster than you.

Still, you are the sweetest person I’ve ever known
And I know you feel your heart, hoisted on your
Sleeve, is often unfair target for the worst of my kind.
Perhaps true, to a degree, but I’d argue you let
A general feeling become a philosophy you
Applied to every man who ever crossed your path.

What bothered me, the last time we talked
Is how little you knew of me the first
And second and third time we met. I made myself
A student of your soul, while you thought mine was something
New each time I pretended to accidentally run into you.
My guess is, your brain kept more of me stored
In that vault of yours than you let on
But I no longer care to be your safecracker.

Too bad. When all is said and done
I’ll conclude I never wanted to
Get as close to anyone as you.
There is a beautiful, incomparable woman
Alive in you. I knew her the moment we met
And she’s never really changed
In all these years.

And that’s the problem, love:
She’s never really changed
In all these years.


Author's Note: For K.T.H., who is regrettably not a poet. Happy Birthday, love.

Posted on 03/18/2011
Copyright © 2024 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Kristine Briese on 03/19/11 at 03:17 AM

Sad and memorable. Beautiful emotion, as always.

Posted by Alison McKenzie on 03/19/11 at 07:21 AM

I knew a relationship, once, that sounds very much like this one - we were never really on the same page of "our" story. I love the way you painted the situation, how easy it was to see it unfold over the years from your perspective.

Posted by Kate Demeree on 05/22/11 at 08:15 PM

Umm... Pensive card Poetman! Great Read!

Posted by Lori Blair on 12/14/11 at 10:56 PM

I can hear your heart-felt words and breathe a long..so strong, so understandable..Excellent!

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