The mirror haunts me and turns my words to air,
my love to grey light that starves, burns, screams beneath red-hot fluorescence.

Madonna; can I pretend to love and know
these love poems in my rotten pancreas?

Can I pretend that this sudden obsession has the merest trace of affection?
Can I really see you, freedom, trapping yourself, binding yourself, blinding yourself to me
and my faults?

Could you ever love the kind of man who shaves his personality,
and leaves it on the floor beside his bed and swears
that, one day, he will let it grow again?

Could you ever love the kind of man who spends his lunch hour on the street,
and scratches at the fat of his cheekbones?

Could you ever love the kind of man who has spent more time thinking about quitting than working,
than loving,
than trying to understand what love is?

Could you ever love the kind of man who tries to memorise lines by Ted Hughes and fails
and makes them up instead,
to sound like a poet in front of drunk women at 3.A.M?

Could you ever love the kind of man who doesn’t smoke but dreams of smoking and loves
the smell and the taste and hates himself?

Could you love the kind of man who falls asleep at his keyboard and looks up and all his notions are ash and missing teeth and the taste of denture fixatives in the dawn?

Could you ever love the kind of man who wears a leash and performs mad,
disenfranchised searches with ghost algorithms?

Could you ever love the kind of man who jerks off when he should be working,
when he says he’s working?

Could you ever love the kind of man who reserves his passion for women in the street;
women rescuing insects on the bus;
women who don’t dance but talk;
women who drink
and are human?

Could you ever love the kind of man who has walked home from Wigan, with bleeding feet;
who has thrown up in the canal with an arm around a black-iron miner;
who has vomited into the arm night shelter of a Pemberton bus stop outside a church that serves no parishioners;
who has clenched a key between white-knuckle fingers;
who has shivered and fallen asleep on a holy metal bench beneath the budget Jerusalem?

Could you ever love the kind of man who has listened to strangers
screaming in halls?

Could you ever love every moment that makes up a man,
or a woman,
or a thing with tear ducts?

Could you love the negro night that moulds us with coal-black molecules in the brain?

Could you ever learn to love?
Could I ever learn not to be?

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