More than anything
I want to write
my final poem,
one whole and perfect poem,
The Ultimate Poem.

Subtle and forceful, expansive and calculated,
The Ultimate Poem spreads
reader to reader breaking hearts
in the swelling of my sorrow,
rebuilding the world in the infallible vision
of my love expressed completely
once and for all.
The Ultimate Poem seeks
like a proton torpedo
gliding into a small exhaust port, delivers
lasting inner peace
like a payload over Hiroshima.

I'd kill to get my hands on that poem—but
I haven't so far
and thank God
I never did manage
as a teenage evangelical
after so many firm
resolutions, so much hard
bargaining, to exorcise my manhood. Thank God
when I succeeded at burning
a brown paper bag of letters and photos
I failed to banish
the part of me that loves. Thank God
I can't find the secret formula
to fix other people
once and for all.

Every night I hatch elaborate schemes
to take over the world and every night
I'm foiled again and by now
I can't help but notice
all the damage
we've been spared
from Final Solutions—
nightly plots intended
to shut down arguments,
sever dangling desires,
slam half-open doors,
genocide foreign emotions,
and render our confounding free beloveds
into sycophantic minions.

Sitting in failure, looking back
at the wake of all these failures
to finish the job
once and for all
I find nothing but grace and relief
and unimagined delight.
Sitting in failure, looking forward
at all the hard work to be done
day after day
I can't help but imagine
somewhere in the ether of platonic forms
those flawless turns of phrase
still awaiting discovery:
The Ultimate Poem, the ultimate power
of expression of love
so close this time.

Maybe in the finale I'll finally understand
why so many villainous monologues end
with the word permanently,
why so many good days begin
with a kettle on the stove
and the kind of love letter comfortable
on a sticky note,
but not tonight.
Tonight I sit in my failure
and drink my tea, pondering
tomorrow night.
You haven't heard the last of me.
I'll write you, Ultimate Poem,
if it's the last thing I do.