May 9, 2005

Gay HaikuAvailable Now!

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This book happened because of a bad breakup.

I suspect most books happen because of a bad breakup; one could make a case, I suppose, against The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but secretly I think Gibbon had heartbreak on the brain when he started writing.

It was winter of 2002. My ex had moved out, taking with him the hideous couch (thank God) but leaving the dog (thank God) and a four-hundred-dollar bill for phone calls to his new boyfriend in Canada (because he couldn’t have the decency to wait until he’d left to start seeing somebody else, oh, no), and I was alone—well, I had the dog—in our vast three-bedroom apartment in the middle of nowhere in Washington Heights. Having learned just how spectacularly disastrous relationships could be from my old boyfriend, I set out instantly to find a new one.

I went on date after date after date, each one worse than the last.

Take, for example, the guy I’ll call James (mostly because that’s his name). We had a great lunch at which we flirted delightfully for two hours; then we decided we wanted dessert. He got up to look at the dessert display and came back and said, “I know what I want. It’s this hexagonal torte that’s part raspberry mousse and part chocolate.” So he ordered that, and it came, and it was a regular, triangular piece of dessert.

And my immediate thought was, That’s not hexagonal. I can never love you.

Then a second thought occurred to me and, pretending that I had to go to the bathroom, I got up and snuck over to the dessert cake. Indeed, his dessert was only a slice of an originally hexagonal torte. So I went back to the table, realizing that I could love him after all.

Then he told me he was a heroin addict.

These haiku started as an attempt to prevent all these miserable afternoons and evenings from being a total waste. If I wasn’t going to get a soul mate out of them, at the very least I could get some seventeen-syllable poems.

Joel Derfner

P.S.: If I’ve dated or slept with you and any of these haiku seem to be referring to you, they’re not. They’re about somebody else. You were divine.

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