Captive Verse


I wish I could talk to you in free verse

like I used to do when we were kids

who knew nothing about our bodies

but a hell of a lot about love

and how loose it made our tongues feel

after we lay sweating in each other’s arms

whispering like shadow lovers

under bed sheets

and darkness before dawn


Now, the only time I let words flow that freely

is when I’m drunk and you’re not there, ever

not in six years

so my tongue just flaps effortlessly

between the top and bottom

rows of my teeth

fanning whiskey clouds into the air

of my empty bedroom


I can’t even write in free verse anymore

it’s nothing but cautionary couplets

and iambic rhyme schemes about lost love

and cornerstone clichés

I’m the 21st century’s Andrew Marvell

only I’m too ugly to have a mistress

and thought that “Coy”

was a type of fish


I miss those days when I was too cocky to rhyme

and believed that censorship was like masturbation

without the climax

but now I can barely get a hard on

unless I look at the ladies in the nudie magazines

in single file, page by page, and scan all the articles

for typos and sentence fragments

like an editor who never gets laid


And this is turning out to be all about sex

when it should be anything but,

so I know that I’m still holding things back from you

and thinking too much

before I write each word

so I’ll call this poem

“captive verse”

and hope that you can teach yourself

to read between the bars



- Blair Trewartha