Just because a man pulls out your chair for you
and takes your coat at an elegant restaurant
is no guarantee that he really loves you. You know this,
and so whether he burps or farts over the dinner
like some sort of Chinese compliment
does not much matter to you, whether he subscribes
to the high sanctimony of the right thing
leaves you unmoved and lonely. Once,
like a Turkish princess, you were feted and dined
by all sorts of mannerly people, in a high castle
on the cliffs of Scotland. Now, so many thank-yous
and sincerelies later, it's the things unsaid,
the warm rudities of late night, that most move you
and you are wild for slurped sounds of the truly decent,
the I-chew-with-my-mouth-open look of the one
you will love forever. Whatever it is that might be said
for the predictable thing, the good manners
you were taught in childhood, it's more and more
the case of the auspicious oddity that excites you now,
the cool flippancy of the one who invents
his own decencies. Darling, I say to you,
fall to the floor all you want, I ain't pulling
chairs out for anyone. But what I'll whisper to you later,
in the orderly dark that comes every night like a good butler,
will be sweeter than all that, believe me,
something you can write home to mom about
as if I were the man who had sent you a, dozen roses
on Valentine's Day, or smiled in the pretty picture,
or paid you the most beautiful compliment in the world—
only more slovenly, baby, more kind.
 
From Against Romance by Michael Blumenthal, published by Viking Penguin, Inc. Copyright © 1987 by Michael Blumenthal. Used by permission of the author.

Poems by This Author

Be Kind by Michael Blumenthal
Not merely because Henry James said
Fish Fucking by Michael Blumenthal
Jew by Michael Blumenthal
The melancholy of Chopin and cruel breathing
Night Baseball by Michael Blumenthal
At night, when I go out to the field
Stones by Michael Blumenthal
We live in dread of something
Suburban by Michael Blumenthal
Conformity caught here, nobody catches it
The Difference between a Child and a Poem by Michael Blumenthal
If you are terrified of your own death
The Nurse by Michael Blumenthal
Now come the purple garments, now the white
United Jewish Appeal by Michael Blumenthal
My grandmother was eighty-nine and blind


Further Reading

Poems about Dinner
At Deep Midnight
by Minnie Bruce Pratt
Mexico City Blues [182nd Chorus]
by Jack Kerouac
Parties: A Hymn of Hate
by Dorothy Parker
Poems About Love
Monna Innominata [I loved you first]
by Christina Rossetti
Monna Innominata [I wish I could remember]
by Christina Rossetti
A Birthday
by Christina Rossetti
A Line-storm Song
by Robert Frost
A Negro Love Song
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Darling, You Are the World's Fresh Ornament
by Laura Cronk
Fons
by Pura López-Colomé
In a Boat
by D. H. Lawrence
Let Us Live and Love (5)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
Love
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Love
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Love in a Life
by Robert Browning
Love's Philosophy
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Lovers' Infiniteness
by John Donne
Meeting at Night
by Robert Browning
My love is as a fever, longing still
by Christopher Bursk
No, Love Is Not Dead
by Robert Desnos
San Antonio
by Naomi Shihab Nye
She Walks in Beauty
by George Gordon Byron
Slow Waltz Through Inflatable Landscape
by Christian Hawkey
The Buried Life
by Matthew Arnold
The Definition of Love
by Andrew Marvell
The Ecstasy
by Phillip Lopate
The Face of All the World (Sonnet 7)
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Forms of Love
by George Oppen
The Kiss
by Stephen Dunn
The Look
by Sara Teasdale
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
by Edward Lear
The Passionate Freudian to His Love
by Dorothy Parker
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
by Christopher Marlowe
The White Rose
by John Boyle O'Reilly
To Anthea Who May Command Him Any Thing
by Robert Herrick
When I Heard at the Close of Day
by Walt Whitman
Wooing Song
by Giles Fletcher