Matthew Roth


Paralipsis, or Epistle to Jim

Dear Jim,
I was, I admit, a bit taken aback,
not by your request, per se, but by your tact.
It was a touch old-fashioned, you’ll agree,
and anyway you know such courtesy
could not augment, and may indeed belie,
our cordial friendship. Why, after all, should I
object? Go right ahead! It’s true Lenore
is an old flame of mine. What was it, four
years we lived together? But I don’t know
why you—you old devil, old so-and-so—
should feel obliged to ask me for my blessing.
Lenore’s a great girl! You’ll have fun, I’m guessing.

Good taste, of course, forbids me to recall
for you her foibles—the lies, the alcohol,
etc. I would never think to say
even a word about the sad display
she conceived to conceal her wandering eye,
which for most of our time together I
did not suspect, though I’m told some others knew
about the priest and the architect (did you?),
to say nothing of the time she stole my PIN
and bet a grand on a horse that didn’t win.
I’m sure it would be best to leave aside
how she made fun of your “condition,” and pride
will not permit my giving you advice
concerning how to calm her when she cries
(she cries a lot) or what kind of underwear
she’ll insist you buy and why you should take care
to avoid at all costs a certain amorous ploy
which, while designed to please, will only annoy.

Oh, I suppose it’s superfluous of me
to dwell too much on her insanity anatomy—
I’m sure the little “love bites” on her thigh
have healed by now—although it’s true that I—
Enough! Far be it from me to stake my claim.
She’s all yours, Jimbo. Allow me to be plain:
God bless you both. I hope you get along
just swell. I hope the birds burst into song
when you pass by together, holding hands.
And if, after a while, she makes demands
of you (she will) that cause a bit of tension,
remember all these things I didn’t mention.

Matthew Roth‘s first book of poems, Bird Silence, was published by The Woodley Press in 2009. His poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Verse, American Literary Review, Antioch Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Grantham, PA.