Argument Waltz with Pessimistic Drowning

After I try to give you happiness
    what you unwrap is box
    of yellowjackets, stinging

nettles, and jellyjars filled with broken glass.
    This is not for the cottonhearted.
    This is for the man who holds fire

between his fingers and calls it love.
  We are burnt
  toast and prism jam.

We are rubbing ourselves
    with the underside of a fern
    trying to make the stinging stop.

There are remedies everywhere—
    from beekeeper’s honey to handmade
    soap—we are told what to hold

near our skin. We are the stained
    towels and the sainted
    bohemian monarch that can’t fly.

Or doesn’t want to.
    I place a constellation in my hand,
    then complain about the burning.

Life weighs me down when I am tired.
    Let’s not pretend we have rocks
    in our pockets. Though I always pretend

I am the novelist and you are the river.