heave half a brick than say
I love you, though I do
crawl in a hole than call you
darling, though you are
wrench off an arm than hug you though
it's what I long to do
gather a posy of poison ivy than
ask if you love me
so if my
hair doesn't stand on end it's because
I never tease it
and if my
heart isn't in my mouth it's because
it knows its place
and if I
don't take a bite of your ear it's because
gristle gripes my guts
and if you
miss the message better get new
glasses and read it twice -- Phyllis Gotlieb
I, too, love this poem! It's totally a give and take, a yes and no, an "I want to but I can't" one-way conversation about whether or not to take the leap into love. It's delightful imagery is, as mentioned above, reminiscent of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130," a fact which is pretty surprising because it's such a modern work. The question is, "should I or shouldn't I?" The answer seems to be "I shouldn't--and don't be mad about it." Thanks for sharing.
The theme or life lesson in this poem is that despite the pleasure and longing we have in pursuing love, it is easier or preferable to suffer the indignities of life than the pain of love and rejection.
At first I hated this poem, but reading it a few more times I think it has a certain power. I'm not sure if there's a "moral" but it seems to be saying that love takes many forms, and don't expect this particular person to conform to others' ideas about how someone in love should behave.
This is an nontraditional love poem like Shakespeare's Sonnet 130. It's the reality of love...not the idealistic "perfection" of it. It's the "if he hits you, it means he likes you" stage. The speaker will do what he needs to in order to get her attention, but he will not do or say anything that will cause him embarrassment. On second thought, I think the speaker of this poem is female...she doesn't tease her hair or talk about how much she loves him. She just wants him to get it.
It's a love poem! Can't you just picture an eleven-year-old boy (well, maybe younger these days) who is becoming interested in girls but is still in that "yuck" stage? It would just kill him to tell a girl he likes her.
Or it could be a grown up who has a crush on someone but is afraid of being rejected if he or she tells that person.
Or it could also be a person in a long-term relationship who is trying to say, "Even though I don't show it or say it every day, I love you very much." And that could be the moral.