“Cough” by David Yezzi

by on 03/11/12 at 11:31 am

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I see you once I’ve got you down to size:
a two-day-stubble squatter; jailbait eyes;

the bottle-headed trophy mom; the mentor
always angling his face down from the center

of his universe to shine a light on yours.
The fated anorexic, whose allures

shimmer in the mirror for her eyes
only, denying what her denial denies.

Once you become a cliche I can hate you—
or, treat me tenderly and let me date you.

But that only retards the writing-off
that comes with boredom, amour propre, or (cough)

irreconcilable differences, i.e.,
those things about you that are least like me,

yet just slightly different, my foible’s homophone,
so in hating yours I really hate my own.

This keeps the focus where it wants to be—
On whom, you ask? Invariably on…. See?

I didn’t even have to say, did I?
I love you so much. No need to reply.

 

Originally in Poetry, November 2012.

 

Ernest Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert is founder of E-Verse Radio.

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