The Look of Love

Climbing bolt eyes tightened so tight the threads
strip, and the tongue, a dirty oiled belaying bolt,
slips and slaps, and the whole edifice collapses,
as if a plumber has grabbed the head by the ears
and sucked on the nose with his plunger.

The smith smites a bass anvil,
          the hot steamed milk face
          the steel bridge nose,
          terrible white teeth,
     drawing and cooling
          the pendant tongue,
          eyes opaque blue,
          thick creamy hair
around the handle of his hammer.

This hyperbolic happy acid oozing 
cold blue face bowl of plum pits,
bonbon pate of goose liver. 
“Don’t look at me!” cry the eye bolts expanding, 
lips stressed taut, ears hung like life rings. 
Far back on the tongue, a bitter spot to nap. 

The old couple lives now in a window box. 
The sash opens and a hand appears. 
A palm with a long curved neck 
pours water clear and concise. 

An electrician comes to replace the eyes. 
He breaks both sockets unscrewing the cold bulbs. 
Memory starts to flicker, the call of a far-off bird. 
In brackish blue eyes the tiller tongue feels spaces, 
loosed from its mooring, and on the sail of the nose, 
beating upwind for a kiss, ripples of sound,
the soupy surf ringing in his ears, 
snores an old surfer paddling about
on a dinged, wax-worn, sun bleached board, 
wanting to swim with you.


  1. Didn’t read like a ‘fun’ poem to me. Much more thought-provoking that that. Old people, old love, subjects that most of us not old people have difficulty getting a handle on. Good poem.


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thanks for reading and comment, Jane. Yes, what happens when the look of love grows old? The features of a face become worn out tools, broken instruments, old technology, like old kitchen utensils? Reminded of the 70’s film, “Logan’s Run.” No one lives past the age of 30 in a future dome city. A disaffected couple escapes, and on the outside they meet an old man, the first old person they’ve ever seen. And Jessica reaches out with her hand to touch the old man’s face and asks him if the wrinkles hurt. But Gertrude Stein once said inside we are always the same age. Which might be why we sometimes don’t recognize or are surprised by current pictures of ourselves, or pictures others have of us. Scary thought: maybe I didn’t recognize myself in this poem! A plant in a window box can’t travel far. But the window box so accentuates the flower that otherwise might be lost in a field of flowers. Anyway, a poem might be like a window box. Anyway, thanks for “good poem,” and for taking the time to comment.


  2. Babs says:

    After reading some of your poems I would say, you need a trip to the beach and get some surfing in. And this wasn’t mush…you just have to read it – several times! I remember the “look of love”. Perhaps I will write something on how I see “the look of love” in the everyday.


    1. Joe Linker says:

      OK, Barb, and send it my wave!


  3. Joe Linker says:

    Thanks for reading, Ashen. This was supposed to be more fun than maybe it turned out. Sort of fragmented, too. Was going for a bit of satire starting out. Not sure what ended up happening. Some sort of narrative going on behind the face. Who is the old couple? And why are they living now in a window box? Do you remember the song? But we never do get a description of the look in the song. So what does this “look of love” look like? Blake thought it was symmetrical, but a fearful symmetry, indeed. Not much symmetry here, where the whole thing collapses in on itself. Mush. A mushy poem. A mushroom face when the mush starts to shroom, which can happen overnight. Toadstool.


  4. Intriguing, with some great lines. I need to come back and read this aloud a few times.


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