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This poem was submitted for the "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" project and is reproduced here with permission from the author. All rights reserved. Poetry for the Mind's Joy is Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's project that includes a community college poetry contest administered by the Community College Humanities Association and a lively videoconference.

I cannot write you
Not like I’d like to.

I only have Saturdays.
I only have songs written out of someone else’s love.

You must take my words with you.
I think you keep them when I cannot stay
Because you know I will come back to find them
Written on your chest
Pouring out of your palms
Stroke my hips again and there will be the first stanza.

The words are imploding my back into an arch above you.
I’ve only had one Sunday morning of you.
My words need more to deliver. 

The poetry of distance is deceiving.
Words don’t tease the tongue.
          They play the page.

          The in-between pawns us out to the night
                    And we fold into our beds as if the pillows will suffice.
          The air around is strangled into longing.
                              I just want the right words to say it
                                                  But they are insufficient
                                                  The alphabet is too incomplete.

I can’t write me
Half as beautifully as you see me.
There aren’t words swollen enough with passion
                    To pucker into a kiss worthy of the moment.

We leave too many messages.
Walk too many streets without a hand to hold.

I cannot write this poem.
It has already written me.
It is slowly writing us into a story of one summer when . . .
                                        The words began to change—
the hand that writes them
the page that receives them
the eye that reads them.

The poetry has claimed us.
We belong to her now.

San Joaquin Delta College, Stockton, CA
Faculty Contact: Pedro Ramirez, Instructor of English