Reading: Love Poem for an Enemy by Richard Katrovas

Richard Katrovas (b. 1953) is a poet born in Norfolk, Virginia, who writes formalist poetry to compensate for the chaos of his childhood. He has been widely anthologized; I read a fun poem that I found today (I usually prepare these posts about 1-2 months in advance, so ‘ today’ in this case means March 7th) about the love of one’s enemy:
Love Poem for an Enemy
I, as sinned against as sinning,
take small pleasure from the winning
of our decades-long guerrilla war.
For from my job I’ve wanted more
than victory over one who’d tried
to punish me before he died,
and now, neither of us dead,
we haunt these halls in constant dread
of drifting past the other’s life
while long-term memory is rife
with slights that sting like paper cuts.
We’ve occupied our separate ruts
yet simmered in a single rage.
We’ve grown absurd in middle age
together, and should seek wisdom now
together, by ending this row.
I therefore decommission you
as constant flagship of my rue.
Below the threshold of my hate
you now my good regard may rate.
For I have let my anger pass.
But, while you’re down there, kiss my ass.
Good fun. I imagine an office (in what other ‘halls’ can you conduct a decades long guerilla war?) with old employees considering each other as nemesis. Paper cuts and the metaphors of decommissioning and flagship hint at an office realm as well.
I like the ring of “We’ve occupied our separate ruts / yet simmered in a single rage.” (Other rhymes like  now/row, you/rue and especially hate/rate are not that brilliant, says I). I am also a little bit confused about the above-below. The enemy is below the threshold of my hate, where he can rate my good regard because I’ve let my anger pass. Why the sneer in the end?
Anyway, it was entirely unimaginable for me to not include a poem that ends with “kiss my ass”.

Reading: Love Poem for an Enemy by Richard Katrovas was originally published on Meandering home


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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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