Reading Saeed Jones's Prelude To Bruise from the beginning was a mistake of chronology. The first few poems didn't grab me. As I read further, I realized that the manuscript started too universally for me. I prefer a personal beginning that expands rather than a universal beginning that constricts.
So I decided to take the experience of how I feel about a manuscript and write it into a poem without being, hopefully, too meta.
The way to his bed is down
an elevator not quite antique
maybe broken enough to be vintage
It is caution enough
to take the stairs
He is waiting with the lights
out You do not fear witness
All he has given you
is fake but his address His name
You are the only thing real about him
He does not kiss
well But he can
apply a condom
using only his mouth
As you push the neutral
gear of his body up
a hill The kindest stranger
alternative to aaa He tells you
about how unlike the town where he was
raised this city is
You were raised in the same
town You were two years apart in
the same high school
If you'd started at the beginning you'd have known
you both started at the same beginning
are currently at the same physical now and
but he moles his sexuality
you don't know how to metaphor
yours but you are not ashamed of it
You will leave and never return
his e-mails Say the sex was forgettable
(it was) But really you are ashamed
of his shame And do not care enough to
explain it to him
If we've all been there
what of us says why?
How do we not know
how to start anything?
How to end anything?
How to be satisfied with the middle?
An ongoing conversation between writers and the text that they're reading.