May 29, 2009

Tell Me One More Time

by Barry Basden

We sit across from each other
at this smooth mahogany table,
our opposing counsels
assessing exit strategies.

Mine has questions: Do you smoke?
How many cartons a week?
Do you eat out? how often?
Pages of interrogatories

to wear you down. No windows
in this Bushwhacker Room,
not even traffic noises from
Colfax Avenue can penetrate these walls;

no escape from harsh fluorescence,
a buzzing place suited to
anguish and guilt,
a room where no one wants to be.

The questions pound at you and
I wonder how it has come to this.
What finally led me to trick you here
when I once needed you so?

My young Turk beats you with the
terrible secrets of our past and I see
you flinch. Finally you sit quietly, wan and
still beside your lawyer in his rumpled blue suit.

I despise this aftermath of our failures,
this end to the disaster of our lives.
I would rather see something familiar,
your exhilarating rage, for instance.

If I had that butcher knife again,
I would slide it across the table and
you could come swishing it at me again,
making your low animal noises to startle this room.

I could once more reach for that blade,
and again see the fury
in your green eyes soften and fade
when blood begins to flow,

and I could hear
you tell me
one more time
that you love me.

*first published in The Legendary

Barry Basden is the editor of Camroc Press Review (


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