The Clever Dream of Man: Poems About Men by Lynn Marie Houston

front cover CDM

Four years ago, I reconnected on Facebook with a man I went to college with. He was two years ahead of me in school, but we’d sat near each other in jazz band. Knew many of the same people. Worked as counsellors in an alternative freshmen orientation experience at the environmental center.

When I reconnected with him after moving back to the East Coast, he and his wife were “estranged” because she’d had an affair. We fell in love via email. Made promises neither of us could keep. Hurt each other deeply.

Out of that grief, I wrote my first poetry book, The Clever Dream of Man, which is dedicated to him, and which was just released by Aldrich Press at the beginning of September. I meant the title to be a double-entendre: 1) a dream (noun) about men which is clever (adjective), and also a cynical warning 2) women who are truly clever (noun) dream (verb) of men rather than interacting with them.

Below is a found poem (not in my first collection) using words from emails he sent me over four years, heavy on material from the first year.

Timing Is Everything
For J.F.

He said
I feel closer to you all the time.
I’m lucky to have you in my life.
I hope someday I can give you something
That comes close to what you’ve given me.

He said
You are in my heart, and that isn’t going to change.
You are the brightest light in my life.
You are saving me.
You are so good, and offer so much.

He said
You are a caring, supportive, emotionally intelligent, and open person
Who is doing an amazing job
Of helping to patch up my shattered identity.
You are the most expressive, kindest, most courageous women I’ve ever known.
I am not letting you go.

He said
Just put both hands on my head and guide me.
Arch your back a little.
When you go to bed, put your arm across your ribs
Where mine would be if I were there.

For years, he said over and over to me
You are beautiful.
And whole.
And worthy.

And then, when he was finally divorced, he said
Your emotional state can change drastically
From relatively small external influences
The extremes of what you feel
Are so far outside of my realm of experience
That I can’t identify with them.¬†
I’d be lying to say there was any chance
A romance between us could work.

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