“Love Is Not an Emergency”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Jan. 31 2012 12:47 PM

“Love Is Not an Emergency”

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Erin Belieu read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

    more like weather, that is
ubiquitous, true

     or false spring: the ambivalence
we have for any picnic—

flies ass-up in the Jell-O;
    the soft bulge of thunderheads.

Right now, the man in the booth
next to me
    at the Nautilus Diner,
        Madison, New Jersey,

is crying, but looks up
    to order the famous disco fries.

So the world’s saddest thing shakes you
    like a Magic 8 Ball;

and before him, the minstrel
    who smeared on love’s blackface, rattling

his damage like a tambourine.

I have been the deadest nag
    limping circles around

the paddock, have flown to beady pieces,

sick as the tongue of mercury
    at the thermometer’s tip.

But let’s admit there’s a pleasure, too,
in living as we do,

    like two-strike felons who smile
for the security cameras,

like love’s first responders,

stuffing our kits with enhancement
    pills, Zig Zags, and Power Ball cards.

I read: to greet is the cognate for

    regret, to weep, but welcome
        our weeping,

because “we grant the name of love
        to something less than love”;

    because we all have to eat.

                        —For A. C.

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here
. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 10:27 AM 3,000 French Scientists Are Marching to Demand More Research Funding
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.