Please don’t mistake this for a love poem: three poems by Juliet P. Howard

Ghazal: what love takes

I’m sleeping as I write this; you’re standing over me crying
while Ella belts out: No, no they can’t take that away from me

If this is all I can get, your hand on my shoulder in the dream,
lips warm against my neck, I’ll take that

The alarm clock becomes enemy; I press snooze every few minutes,
search for you and finally press stop when I can’t take it any more

Please don’t mistake this for a love poem – I stopped writing those
damn things once you left; anyhow, that last poem I wrote: you wouldn’t take it

I call my mama and ask her how she lived all those decades
knowing her lover would never fully be hers and she said: chile, you just take it

Wake up! Rewind routine daily, tuck kids in, cook dinner work round the clock,
leave patience on the dining room table while making breakfast, and the kids take it

As I wake from the dream, your tears fall from my eyes and I ask myself:
J why do you complicate love? Why can’t you just take it?


The Place Where Pulse Begins and Ends

My turquoise veins push through
burnt-orange, pale-pink sliver of skin.
The kaleidoscope of my wrist
captured on an artist’s canvas.

The inside of this wrist holds memories:
lips flushed against the palimpsest of my arm.
An imprint of fingers burrowed in wrist.
Did she know this arm is where you planted kisses?

Frozen now: those translucent fragments of color;
viridian green, cobalt blue, and titanium white;
pieces of pulse barely discernable
beneath layers of pigment.

The only thing missing: your lips
warm against the canvas of my skin.
Brush strokes, a blend of wet tears, wet oil
floating amidst an oval frame.

This canvas captures:
earth’s pigments, speckled spots,
those hollow spaces you once called home.
Memories excavated for all to see.

When light hits cloth
all that is left is
pulse tendon bone,
a lover’s lips buried beneath raw umber.


Summer Night in Greenwich Village

We sip mango margaritas
at a sidewalk café
and wait
for a warm breeze
I watch you touch the rim
of the glass, salty and wet
droplets of sweat fall
down your philtrum
You touch the nape of your neck
push unruly locks into submission
which you twist, round and round
between your thumb and forefinger
I remember I cannot touch you
so I move my hands
down the body
of the cold glass
My fingers stroke my neck
feel the cool contrast against my skin
I’d rather  rub the lime from your drink
over your yielding lips and taste that tartness
Instead we talk incessantly
push night to her bursting edge
and prepare to leave it behind us
without ever touching.
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Please don’t mistake this for a love poem: three poems by Juliet P. Howard

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