Grateful thanks to my partner Troubleshooter and my friends Miss Ellie, Bear and Sugarboi for their comments on various drafts of this poem, and to Steph and all at the Academy for asking me to contribute. I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day. Feedback on this piece is eagerly sought, and can be sent to me at


To my valentine on her wedding day

by Emily Duncan 2004

Remember how strong you were, back then -
self-sufficiently stiff, never offered a hand;
but now, without asking, you turn to him.
I knew you resolved on a life alone, sat spinning
a future of conquest in solitude. I brought you flowers,
but his puppy-jaws snapped, as if catching a spider,
and you were gone.
Your purpose expired like those roses, my dear,
love's shoots pushing out of crushed blossoms' last breath;
so timorous, but nourished
by a past of spurned advances.

I covet the Western geisha you were, all
promise of painted lip and incessant smile,
devoid of meaning now. He cracked my china doll,
then had the sense to love you. While you wept
like Picasso's Dora, he stayed dependable
as Monday; I found him just as dull.

Don white as if it's the first time today,
stop clocks with your symbols, keep counting the ways.
Remember, make ready for what's to come;
I'll sit at home in hunger.
Search each other's attraction, over the years,
this world of empty rhetoric and grasping violence
provides no comfort. Know this,
before the end -

Complete, not completed,
grounded, not buried;
stay private, darling, but leave
the door ajar.

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