Love’s Bluff

For Miller Williams

A husband is what is left of a lover,
after the nerve has been extracted.

Helen Rowland (1875–1950), A Guide to Men, (1922)


She doesn’t kiss him like she used to
anymore, what’s worse, he’ll bet,
he knows why.  There’s no excuse to,
there’s hardly even any reason left.

They don’t dance, they never did he realizes
now not nearly enough, and can’t
remember when they stopped, or why,
or what they thought it might have meant.

The city below him sighs itself to sleep
the stars above appear to disappear,
each house a heart if not a heartbeat,
no moment the edge it seems from here

this high where they used to come together
when all they ever wanted was each other.


When every day dawned its perfect weather
when things were good and getting better

she called him “Darling,” he called her “Dear”
they’d  never lie they swore they’d never cheat
so they kept each other  close, but not near,
one of them would die if the other would leave.

Then the kids, the house, he was content
got fat and happy, he won’t apologize
if that’s a sin he refuses to repent;
she didn’t either,  he saw it in her eyes.

All is memory now, little but regret
with nothing to do but what he chooses to.
How does he go on when he can’t forget
she doesn’t kiss him like she used to.

—Bruce Taylor, Eau Claire, WI