Sunday Rumpus Fiction: Ten Reasons Not to Sleep with a Poet

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1. If he is Catholic he will feel guilty.  If he is Protestant he will feel guilty for not feeling guilty.  If he is Jewish he will call his mother from bed.

2. He will snore and you will not be able to get his snoring out of your head, even hours after he has left your apartment.

3. In bed he will say things decidedly unpoetic, like, Baby, my cock feels huge when it’s inside you, and feel rather impressed with himself.

4. He will really listen and this deep listening will make you say things you never knew you wanted to say.

5. He might make you believe that you are really the poet.  When he attempts to break up with you, his word patterns will form in your mind:  Only weeks ago, running your lips across my neck and trying to memorize the shape of my shoulder.  Just weeks ago, my shoulder.

6. You will not be able to let go of various maddening details.  (a) He will speak to your hands as if they are separate from the rest of you.  (b) He will move his fingertips across your stomach, not in a sexy way, but in a way that makes you think he is comparing it to another stomach.  (c)  He will describe you as delicate.

7. He might want to make poet babies.  He might cry before he makes you cry.  He might have women in his past who seem a little too present.

8. Like other kinds of men, he will never understand the anguish of carrying a phone that does not ring.  Unlike other kinds of men, he will seem to fall off the planet for weeks at a time, lost in a place—that goddamned place you know to be a space in his head and not an actual location.

9. Poets expect grand gestures.  To your own surprise, you will deliver such gestures.  You will forsake other friends and lovers, and consider wearing on a chain around your neck a small gold vial of poet blood.

10. In his car, in a rare moment where the world seems right, you will sing along with an old and overplayed Goo Goo Dolls song.  You will sing, Don’t you love her like a cure?  And instead of letting you have the line your way, letting the world seem right just a moment longer, he will inform you that the line is really, Don’t you love the life you killed?

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Here is a cartoon my seven-year-old daughter, Elliott, made after reading my table of contents. That's me, explaining to the barista at Starbucks not to sleep with poets...


Stacy Bierlein is the author of the story collection A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends. A founding editor of Other Voices Books, she is the editor of the award-winning anthology A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection as well as a coeditor of the vibrant new anthology Men Undressed: Women Writers and the Male Sexual Experience. She lives in Newport Coast, California. More from this author →