MOJAVE DESERT
(Rodrigo Peñaloza, III-12–2016)

Pretend I owe you nothing
and I’ll charge you everything.
Take your clothes off as usual
and I won’t lay down with you.
Make love to me with your eyes shut
so I can hate you without guilt.
Fix me a common dinner Friday night
so I refuse to eat, then offer me a spirit
for me to spit it off on you.
Whisper my name at the designated time
and I’ll back myself off from you so shamelessly.
Walk me out to the door every morning
and I won’t kiss you good day, darling.
Save me from the perils of the Mojave desert
and I’ll hurt you without remorse.
Pretend, just pretend, it is all I ask,
so I can fake my understanding.
I’ll make pillows out of the rocks
on which I rest my tired head,
even if you won’t let me so.
I don’t fear the scorpions and the vicious snakes
that surround my body while I sleep
in the vast nothingness of the valley.
They’ll feed on me if I let myself die,
don’t you know?
I warm my hands at bonfires,
I bath in the rain,
I quench the thirst in creeks,
I satiate my hunger with salt,
I baptize myself in rivers that don’t exist
and from despair I come out purified.
Hold on, hold on, hold on!
I won’t hold your hand if you won’t hold mine.
I’ll sleep in motels when you turn around,
I’ll hit roads to nowhere and when the waitress
I’ve just met in the bar wishes to share the bed, I’ll say “no”,
for me not to cure her loneliness with my solitude,
but I’ll love her when she laughs at my jokes.

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