When I was fifteen I fell obsessively, passionately in love with a girl named Kay. She was the kind of girl that my mother would hate. I’m sure that added great luster to my blonde goddess, this Schicksa (that’s a girl who isn’t Jewish). I did insane things in the pursuit of my goddess. I invaded a Bible Camp in Green Lake Wisconsin, just to be able to see her. That didn’t work out very well. Kay’s mother was there. She was on the camp’s administrative board. Kay was mortified and her mother was filled with wrath. Anyway, the greatest thing Kay gave to me was poetry. She was that tweedy sort of intellectual teen who read e.e.cummings and T.S.Eliot. Thus it happened that my career as a writer began.
I don’t have any of the poems I wrote for Kay, or any of the poems I wrote at that time, none at all. It’s no great loss. I’ve written thousands of poems and most of them are lost. Some of them were stolen or destroyed. A complete stranger stole three of my notebooks from a stage while I was performing. A pissed-off dope connection burned two of my manuscripts. Still, I have a big fat book of poetry bound at Kinko’s. And I have eight backups on eight hard drives, at the very least.
There are all kinds of love poetry because there are so many ways to love. When love poetry appears, we all know it.
Here’s Pablo Neruda. I’m sure it’s better in Spanish
I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it’s you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.
In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.
Here’s Arthur Rosch. I’m sure it would be worse in Spanish.
Last night I counted your breaths while you slept.
Towards morning, I lost count, but you soon awoke
so I rounded the number and privately recorded
your many thousands of sleeping breaths
in the journal of love I am making for you.
the night I counted your breaths while you slept.
I wanted to have a secret way of loving you,
a place where love is always new and mysterious.
I know that you count my breaths while I am awake.
Somewhere, inside the busy pain of your mind,
you find a peaceful grotto, and there
you count my breaths, unaware of what you do.
Your love is so constant, it is a place where my fears vanish.
I must practice harder than you, to love.
I must lie awake and keep vigil
so that while you dream, I am doing something important,
being the clock of your breath,
helping you sleep.
I can do nothing more loving for you
than to help you sleep.
You always wanted someone to watch over you.
You felt abandoned and alone. With this secret, I heal you.
I count the long slow breaths, I catch at the sudden twitches,
I invent words to accompany your dream-mumbles.
I wanted this poem to be a secret but I know I’ll read it for you.
Tomorrow night, or the next,
I will do it again, or find another way to love you,
something only I could think of doing,
and only you could know why it was done.
A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good. His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv.