First Story

(this is a series of poems, written as a variant on a ‘crown’ of poems.
In a crown, in each of seven related poems, the first line is the same as
the last line of the poem preceding it. I didn’t stick to that hard and
fast, but I still like the end result…)

First Story – I

He was a very lonely man.

That’s what drew me
at first –
it certainly wasn’t his looks –
I have this terrible desire
to help people.

My father always said
you trust too easily
you’re going to get hurt.

My father was right.

I never tried to listen
and this man
or boy
was aching with need
and while I didn’t yet need
I could certainly use.

So we met over calculus texts
and he leaned towards me
across the broad brown table
and I was young (for eighteen)
and flattered.

First Story – II

I was young and flattered
when we kissed across the table
kissing softly in the evening
as city lights began to glow.

He was only a year younger
and knew even less than I did
(it was I who really kissed him)
in the dim September light.

Looking back it seems like nothing
but then it was forever
from the time we first were kissing
till ending in his bed.

Four months can be a lifetime
when you’re young and falling softly
for dreams come swift and easy
when you need a lover’s hands.

First Story – III
Falling Apart

when I needed his hands
his touch
I was
too easy.

to cajole
with a whispered apology
in my ear
a promise
for tomorrow
a kiss

(and who can say what would have happened
if we hadn’t played our parts so well
if I were not so taught to give
and he so happy to take?)

First Story IV

He was not really happy to take
but indifferent.

How exhausting it can be to constantly say no
he said once.

To be saying no more affection,
No more love.
No more dreams he can’t fulfill
words to say he never will
No more.

Until finally
after taking tiredly what was offered
he took what wasn’t offered
and it was such a nasty word


First Story – V


Heavy-framed shades protect her eyes,
and the shadows that lie like bruises beneath them.

She doesn’t talk to her parents,
who see the world behind blinkers,
a narrow view that would marry them
with the traditional shotgun.

She doesn’t talk to her friends,
whose rose-tinted vision of her
would have them going after him with a hatchet
and wrapping her in layers of smothering wool.

She doesn’t even talk to him.
Because if he were to know,
his ego would make it his decision,
his choice…like everything else.

Result? A cold white room in a crowded clinic,
where the eyes never meet and the hands clasp furtively,
and every man’s face wears a look of guilt,
and every woman’s face the question of regret.

At least this is her own.
Soon she will forgive.

First Story VI

It is shocking how
ready the human heart is
to love and forgive.

It is heart-wrenching –
forgiveness isn’t always
enough to win love.

Only the brave young
have the energy to try
to break their own hearts.

First Story – VII

I had broken my own heart really. Looking back, it is all so clear,
so unnecessarily tragic, that I wonder how we both kept from laughing
through it all…at the melodrama of it all.

Of course, I didn’t know then how easy it is to break a heart over and
over…and how quickly the pieces are put back together.

I can’t really regret it now. He was such a very lonely man.

M.A. Mohanraj
October 6, 1993

(if you read the 92 poems, you’ll note that Bruises was actually written in 92,
and became the seed for this work).