When I put my lips against your ear
and sweet praise
preys from my tongue
tracing the ticklish helix
as it swirls deep toward ego:
your beauty brightens my life,
your strength is my bedrock,
your loving kindness gives me joy –
Do you tire of the buttery coatings
on every word
or do you slurp them up,
feasting on the adoration,
a child addicted to pixy sticks?
Or maybe you’re embarrassed
but let me ramble on
because I need to say –
no, to believe – that you are
my foundation
else I sink into the quicksand
of my own hubris.

When I drop to my knees
sobbing and incoherent,
to repent for doubting you,
for blackening your eye when it wandered,
for revenge screwing the young Johnny Depp
look-alike that lives downstairs –
Are you disgusted
by my pathetic humbling
or because we both know
you’ll take me back anyway?
Do you chastise yourself
knowing you will trust me again
when my faith flees at first doubt?
Or is it simply love
no matter what kind of ass I am?

When I beg you to help
with my latest lost cause,
plying you with equal shots
of guilt and compliments
until you’re willing
to open your wallet
and make a few calls
so Aunt Sarah gets the best care
for the tumor that terrified everyone,
so the homeless man in tattered trench coat
gets a warm bed before the next vortex,
so the timid, wasting refugee girl
finds safe haven lest she be iced –
Do you scoff at my heart
that bleeds at slightest maudlin plea?
Do you sense my fear
already moving on
to the next shiny supplication?
Will you indulge to act
on these pet projects
or withhold
until I too am willing to give?

When you’re relaxed on the sofa
and I coyly ease into your embrace,
kissing your cheek,
massaging your shoulders,
bat a warning wink
that favors are sought:
honey, I saw the sleekest
little sports car downtown,
but that’s too much,
can we go on that Hawaii trip,
well, I need a new suit,
job interviews coming up –
Are you angry you’re nothing
but my sugar daddy?
Do you sigh with resignation
when I can’t care for myself?
Or are you just bewildered
I crave mere baubles
and not the wellspring of love
I steadfastly sidestep?

©2019 Kenneth W. Arthur