Please don’t hate me because I’m perfect

Please don’t hate me because I’m perfect is a sequence that appeared in Transistor Rodeo. Two of the poems were originally published in the Colorado Review.


Please don’t hate me because I’m perfect

She was a town on the prairie bursting with wanting
to be some other town on some other prairie.
Inside her was a store.  You could buy
stuff named after a doctor, or that crazy old candy
that tasted like shit, when nobody knew any better.

God, I wish I had a nickname like Rabbit.
I wish I’d spent more time swimming as a kid.

Grassy boulevards twelve feet wide.  Cement sidewalks crawling over roots.  Ice cream.  Fox-tails poking through lattice-work, make you swear this house is in the south.  Meat.  Everywhere you look.  Meat so cheap you could pave the highway out of town with it.  Grainy photographs and moist fingers: a cut-off-shorts kind of love inflicting itself all summer long, and three-stroke flowers painted on every damn thing she could get her beautiful, beautiful hands on.


Please don’t hate me because I’m perfect

She was the before of a coming disaster,
a hedgehog in the Tennessee summer,
luxurious, bristling with options.
Look into her eyes.  You can almost imagine
how she could see into a future
where everything will matter so much.

Try to kiss her and she’s gone.

Slow down, li’l diggy, you’re a real shakin’ thing, but this ain’t no discothèque hoedown.  This is your damn life.  And you and me are in it, for shit, champagne, or High Fucking Yahtzee in Eternal Springtime.  Now I’m going to tell you something real.  I’ve got two kinds of regrets: the stuff I was too chicken to do, and a million avoidable unkindnesses.  Thoughtless, thoughtless, thoughtless.


Please don’t hate me because I’m perfect

She was a ten-inch silver dollar, and if you could
just skip her across the Delaware, James Madison
himself would rise up make you president.

I used to believe that, too, but whatever
sorry-ass country you wind up in, there’s always
the same local kid trying to learn to whistle
and honest-to-god believing that it matters.

Somewhere there is a pipe sticking out of the ground, and when you walk by it you wonder what it could possibly be connected to.  Some of us like to think the day will come when no one remembers what the damn pipe is for.  It’s the way that even the least among us are able to surround ourselves with yes-men.  It’s falling frantically in love with the girl in the subway.  It’s wishing the world was small enough to live in without shame.


Please don’t hate me because I’m perfect

She was a strange, strange conversation,
like running up one of those old trains
with the compartment doors wide open
and all the women wearing hats and the men
smoking like they’re never going to die.

Somewhere on this train is a man with a secret.
Mine is that none of this was ever true.

You said two walls that face each other must learn to whisper, lest they should wake the doors.  Unwell!  Quel crap!  Antediluvian, you are proud, but plumply gnatted.  Immune to thy mollifinery.  Exempted from your mouthcapades & nonversations.  Hie thee back to skank-ri-la, to your wondrous tower of superior personal effects, to preening confessions in a porcelain moonlight, to the unspeakable honors collecting beneath you like water beneath a crappy air conditioner, to someone moreover who gives a damn about your sporting buck-stoppery.


Please don’t hate me because I’m perfect

She was a summer full of ankles
and the tenor saxophone and everybody
standing out in the streets eating ice cream
and speaking Italian and nobody caring
about the price of any damn thing at all.

She was always the most beautiful girl in the room.
All I wanted was to love her without disappointment.

You’re drinking coffee at a truck stop.  You think “Maybe one day I’ll be interesting.”  You’re coveting your neighbor’s hat.  Among the great men of your day, you’re a real ball-breaker. Out of what you thought was nowhere he says, “I dag me a hen-dilly sinty-gill for-tick up . . .” and suddenly you’re not quite sure if he’s a little bit taller than you or a little bit shorter than you, but you’re damn sure he always will be.


Please don’t hate me because I’m perfect

She was a French column dwindling in a harsh Russian winter.
Guns and horses and men and the spokes of broken wheels all stuck
at unlikely angles in the snow like bottle rockets in a field of ant hills.
Men pulling boots from the feet of the dead.  In times of war,
it is good to have small feet and a dead friend with large boots
and the ability to convince oneself of things that are almost true.

On two separate occasions I have convinced myself in this way.

Everybody sees the world in terms.  Some people believe in a fecund loneliness, while others eat common fruit with gravity.  Some people say, “the tauter the experience, the quicker the relaxation towards wisdom.”  Others, snow like a factory, workers like grain, polecat Jonny’s on the loose again.  Forgotten dearest, what could I have promised?  Love and low, low prices?  Or just to try and still the muttering of these questions?

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