Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.
Robert Hass, “Meditation at Lagunitas”
JOHNNY TO FRANKIE
I curse you & you come back
for more, your proud lip trembling.
You deny nothing.
There are words that should never be said &
I say them one by one because they are delicious.
Every stunned look has its echo
in the pit of my stomach. It terrifies me
how much of you I have taken in
& how much more I still need.
When a hound feels sick he eats
a little snakeroot, cleans himself out.
I love you beyond reason.
If only you would pay me back in my own coin.
“Frankie and Johnny” lyrics: traditional version, as interpreted by Cisco Houston, Van Morrison and (appropriately, and my favorite) Johnny Cash; Elvis Presley’s first-person version (lyrics by Gottlieb, Karger, Weisman); a review of the soundtrack for the Elvis movie musical is here.