Back when I used to write poetry, people who should have known better would ask, “Why don’t you write anything happy?” The mere thought gives me hives. The only question that makes me twitchier than that is, “Don’t you ever write love poems?” Instead I wrote this. Careful what you ask for.



A man gives his heart to the woman he loves. First, he extracts it. The trickiest part, aside from using the rib spreader, is not scratching the heart against the rib cage. He wrings out the blood left in the ventricles, washes off the clotted gore, pats the organ dry with a clean dish towel, trims the veins and small filaments—a very practical offering. The man chuckles as he slips this valentine into a red velvet pouch, the pouch into a silver gift bag. Pink tissue paper sticks out from the top—overall a fine presentation. And why not? This is, after all, the big night. He waits, almost smug, not minding the blood seeping into his shoes as the woman he loves rips the tissue away. She reaches into the red pouch. Against her palm, smooth and cool, his pulsing heart. Her fingers tighten. “How heartless,” she says, and, of course, she’s right.

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