Love Letters, Part One

In the dream I am swimming toward you, absorbed in the body's rhythms. As I approach your rock, I wake. I wait. I think about moving toward you. I hear the pulses in my body beat.

Writing to a lover, real or imagined, requited or hopeless, is obsession, pastime, gesture across miles, hours, years. It is fingers on a keyboard, gel ink on a postcard, pencil on a legal pad. It is impetuous, considered, hysterical, calm—electronic, or a note slipped under a door. It is now or decades later. Here, a collection from our writers, for you, for Valentine's Day. —Elizabeth Zimmer


December 7, 2004

Dear Kitty and Eddie Joe,

I'm writing to thank you for seducing me the other night, while I was back home. I know, because you told me, that you do it every time you go out, but I don't. The list of things I did that night that I've never done before is long: sniffing a stranger's cocaine in a men's room; driving off in a stranger's truck; standing outside a seedy bar waiting for someone's drug connection; making out with a girl; making out with a girl in the front row of a small porn theater; making out with a girl high half out of her mind, who is biting me with crooked pearl teeth and murmuring incessantly, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

You know I did it for you, Kitty. I liked you two together, the intelligence, the calculated seduction through stories—how you fucked everyone in your little town in Tennessee: the 17-year-old girls, waitresses and bartenders, Eddie Joe's army comrades. How you were married to other people until you seduced each other with poetry and formed an insatiable alliance, an unstoppable juggernaut of pleasure both illegal and unimaginable. You told me a story, then gave me a role to play, even though I felt the staginess as together you undressed me on your half-clothed mattress on the floor, pulled off my black silk dress, and rolled down my fishnets as your transvestite friend watched Gone With the Windin the next room. I don't think you really learned my name. It's true I did it for the story too, to be out of time for a night, somewhere with no connection to my real life and real love; but most of all I did it for you, Kitty, and the image that you gave me, arched astride your husband, auburn curls flying, writhing like a demon had possessed your creamy skin.

Lula Belle


June 15, 2004

Dear Michael,

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Ten years ago this summer, we rode together standing in the back of a jeep from Lee Wah's Chinese restaurant to Lake Winnipesaukee, and as Liz Phair's "Supernova" played, you casually lip-synched the payoff line right to my face: "And you fuck like a volcano." I've always regretted that I never got to prove it. I'm still a music fanatic, still think of you when I hear that song. And a few other songs as well, even though I could never be to you all that you were to me. Here's the mix tape (or mix EP) I haven't the courage to make for you:

1. Dave Matthews Band, "Dancing Nancies": What I heard when I got to know you, midnight skinny-dipping at the lake with you and about 30 of your closest friends, and knew you could not be ignored. "Sing and dance/I'll play for you tonight./The thrill of it all."

2. Alex Dolan, "Smoking Gun": You were a pop culture vulture of equal stature. "The spectacular Scott Bakula!"

3. The Supremes, "I Hear a Symphony": "A thousand violins fill the air." Particularly when you dry off and change clothes in front of me, with cocksure confidence.

4. Norman Connors, "You Are My Starship": "I just can't say it's here that you want to be." Indeed, I knew it wasn't. But when has that ever tapered desire?

5. The Samples, "Nothing Lasts For Long": The song that made you bleary-eyed, and made me wish I could be the one you said nothing to all night. "Take my hand and walk with me,/And tell me who you love."

6. Wilco, "How to Fight Loneliness": They opened with this at the Orpheum—a perfect night, except that you weren't in the seat next to mine. "Just smile all the time."

7. Sweet Sensation, "Sad Sweet Dreamer": Lying on the dock of that same lake, this time solo, imagining your leg brushing against mine. "It's just one of those things/You put down to experience."

8. Stevie Wonder, "Another Star": I tipsily sang this, the day after your cousin's wedding. Everyone else was still bunked up with dates and spouses, and I had a water-glistened dock for a partner and a robust morning sun for an audience. "For you, love might bring a toast of wine;/But with each sparkle know the best for you I pray./For you, love might be for you to find,/But I will celebrate a love of yesterday."

9. Robbie Williams, "Angels": That was what I sang after you left, the last time I sang with you, at a karaoke party two years ago. I've never held anyone so tightly as when you said goodbye, never put on so brave a face as when I rejoined the party. "I'm loving angels instead."

Love, Joe


2/1/05

dear you:

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photo: Elinor Carucci
(you should read this letter alone, sitting down, with a glass of water.) (you should read this when nobody is home, sitting on your bed, in a bedroom I've never been in, but have just glimpsed, with your drawings on the walls.) (dear you, you should read this with me next to you on the bed in your bedroom, you should read this with me just barely touching you, with all of our winter clothes still on, sweater to sweater—my orange one to your blue. dear you. I hope you will read this with me beside you, my tension contained and diffused through my body, so that I take off my sweater to prove an unconscious point to you, look up at you, as I have before, for a signal from your hand. dear. it is my great wish that you will read this as I try to cross my legs for you, and you, still reading, steady my thigh with your hand, hold it as if I'd made you a present of it. I hope you will read this letter. turning towards me. you should read it just before your glasses are off. you should read it just before. you should read it just before i am trying to make as much skin touch you as i can, because i want and need you finally, yes. you should read this right before every time i've ever looked at you and loved you and not said it, and held it in and bit my lip, gets concentrated in these hips of mine, who are dying to say it:) now, now, now, now, now, now and i do, yes, love you. —a.e.b.s.


DEFINITIVE
(LD Beghtol/Nice Boys Music/Mother West Music/ASCAP)

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You never wanted much—
Just poetry and a place by the sea
You never wanted much—
Just Morrissey, Tea and Sympathy
But you never wanted life superlative
You never wanted much, that's true

Matthew, where will you go when it's over?
Matthew, what will you do?

You never asked for much—
Just books and a fire, and a tire swing
You never asked for much—
Just a ball of sring and a promise ring
But you never wanted it definitive
You never wanted endless skies of blue

Oh, Matthew, where will you go when it's over?
Matthew, what will you do when it's through?

You never wanted what I had to give
You never knew I wanted you

Oh, Matthew, where will you go when it's over?
Matthew, what will you do when it's through?
Matthew, where will you go when it's over?
Matthew, oh, what will you do—
When she leaves you?

Listen to "Definitive" by Flare online at villagevoice.com/definitive


After eight months of brutal Canadian winter it was no surprise that 29-year-old writer Notho was miserable. Romance was impossible in his suburban town, Waterloo, with the arctic chill making the idea of a "spring fling" sound ridiculous. Inspired by Catullus's poems of love and rejection, Notho got through the winter writing about affairs with lesbians. When summer finally came, he realized lesbians were just not that into him, but that in spite of frostbite, domestic love is attainable . . .

August 19, 2004

Dear Jeen:

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photo: Elinor Carucci
Writing my novel for the 24th time has shown me that domestic love with bliss is rare and hard to find. We are so very lucky. Now that I am two days from fully exorcising my Catullan curse, I sense great freedom from self on the horizon, and want to develop a serious and vested interest in the corporeal body of your organic development and art.

We will eat mussels, and become the movie Blue Lagoon: You will be Brooke Shields's burnt-toast thighs and I, suburbia's Slurpee heart. On hot picnics I will watch butter clarify down your lengthy carrot limbs, and your cherub mouth quiver beneath apple cheeks. You will replace my lust for sapphic vixens, your lips as sensuous as dewy produce.

Home can be a healthy thing. We'll leave 7-Elevens behind. I love you endlessly, and am happy your sexual orientation allows you to love me too.

Notho

Love Letters, Part Two

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