Dear Kim, were you a vision
that kept me going through
the sleepless nights of tears
and waiting?...
Or maybe, Kim, you were
a flower whose delicate
fragrance kept my spirit
alive and free...
I do not know, darling,
but somehow I felt
I knew you...
I was a tired "math tutor"--
an excuse that I gave
to justify being a poet,
being without a home
in that world
of jocks and business
majors and those drunken
frat parties...
Were you my angel, Kim?
I do not know but I kept
your image in a secret corner
of my mind...
I heard the ocean waves
as I passed the dull corridors
of that state university
where every student
is but a number...
That's what I was, Kim.
And you were a sorority girl
on the women's rugby team...
O to be a poet!
To burn with the incessant
longing to merge with the
starry sky and howl like
a madman at the moon!...
No, Kim, they could never
understand me, and my world
was too different and too scary
for all the sociology
and psychology majors
who searched for a case
like mine in a textbook...
But all they would find
there was their own loneliness
and estrangement...
I walked those corridors
without purpose but with a smile
of a dreamer, searching for a
familiar face in a crowd of
They were all too scared
to say they weren't sure
of anything,
they were all too scared
to admit that they didn't
know a damn thing!...
was the ad for the school
of those lost and confused souls
that I often encountered
at the cafeteria.
They were all there--
a madman who walked around
tables with a cigarette,
who knew several languages and
claimed that Amy Carter was
his daughter,
a guy in a wheelchair
who liked to get drunk
and shout obscenities,
lonely professors who sought
refuge in Marxism and feminism
and slept with their students,
the overweight girls who
would do it with any guy
who might find them
at all attractive,
the airheads who
would check their make-up
at least every hour in the bathroom
and who put on a coy front
when it came to sex,
the "muscleheads" with their
visored caps who claimed
to fuck them all--
it was all a lie, Kim,
it was all fake--
and the "artists" too--
the ones who pretended to be
different, to be unique,
with dyed or shaved hair and
colorful T-shirts and leather...
and the snotty pseudo-
intellectuals who would say
that they should have gone
to a better school--they all
were fake, Kim!
O how much I loved you then!
You told me that you were
"just" a secretary,
and I pictured you in the moonlight,
writing memos in the mist of stars...
No, Kim, I think
it was not a dream--
it was much too real
and it was much too scary
to reveal your true self--
as fragile as a flower--
amidst the men's room graffiti
which described "hard cocks,"
"wet pussies," and "blow jobs"...
Yes, Kim, I was a virgin
and I was aware of it all,
all the stupid games,
all the lies, all the facades.
How could I have said:
"I love you" without sounding
like a romantic idiot?
No, Kim, I cannot
and will not forget you--
I will always remember you
drawing hearts in your textbook,
dreaming of some new lover,
throwing logic to the winds...
Maybe you were too young,
maybe I came on too strong,
maybe I was out of line...
I do not know, Kim.
The campus policewoman
can't possibly know or understand.
You said that I was your
"math tutor."
Perhaps it's not all that
I was to you and perhaps
I taught you a little more
than just logic.
There was no logic to how I felt.
Maybe it was a dream and it's time
for me to wake up once more
and face the nightmarish reality
of the "living dead."
Maybe what I wrote is not even a poem.
What is a poem?
What is love?
What is truth?
Maybe it's George Bush's
rhetoric condemning Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait...
I don't know any more.
I love you, Kim, regardless of
the gasoline prices, regardless of what
the English teachers or the police
think of my poetry, regardless of
being arrested for crying on your lawn,
regardless of all the university regulations,
regardless of everything that we've been taught by
our parents and teachers, regardless of the writings
on the bathroom walls, regardless of the opinions of
my friends and my enemies, regardless of whether or
not it's a poem, regardless of the critics,
regardless of religion and politics
which make absolutely no sense to me...
Regardless of it all,
I love you!

                                        August 16, 1990
                                     --Alexander Shaumyan