The Love Poem I Can’t Seem to Write (Songs for My Tribe)

The Love Poem I Can’t Seem to Write (Songs for My Tribe)
06/29/2017, Deon Mumple

It’s still not good enough, I’ve written the same poem four times now.
I keep trying to say it just right, keep trying, but I don’t really know how.
How do you say this thing, this feeling? What are the right words?
I don’t want to say the same sounds I know you’ve already heard.

It didn’t turn out those times before, when your hope needed fulfilled
And those last two times, when you swore, no more, after the dream was killed
I don’t want to be that way,  I want to be different, and never see you hurt
But I know the times I’ve failed before, don’t trust me,  trust me, you’ll get burned

I’ve written this poem five times now, just trying to say it right
I want to make the promises and keep them, so we always win the fight
I want to be superhuman, and be heroic, but at the same time, be real,
But I don’t feel real; I’m up and down without flying, can’t even control how I feel.

I’ve written this poem six times now, and it’s never going to be perfect
The same as I know about you and me, but I’m not, and you’re not, and we’re not.
I’m afraid, you’re afraid, it’s not going to work, but I hope you’ll give it a shot.
Like this poem, I’m trying to write it right, and keep on writing it wrong,
Me versus verses that don’t have choruses, and a form that’s far from correct
Sometimes even the best composers build a bridge to write a decent love song.

I’ve written this poem seven times, this is the last time, then I’m through.
It may never be exactly right, about like trying on the wrong sized shoe,
But if a hope is just deferred but somehow I know it was meant to come true,
Maybe mixed up words will make the longing fulfilled, so I can win and keep you.


I met a girl with dreams in her eyes, sparkling like fiery stars above,
I met a girl with an imperfect past, how could I not fall in love?
We finally learned to trust enough I shared my dreams and desires,
I wanted her like a hanged man’s breath, like a shivering man wants fire.

And I wanted to be the dream-come-true she believed

When love is untested it always feels so strong,
When you really love each other, you can do no wrong,
When you’re trying hard to try hard, her eyes promise…
But you can’t relax, and every day does not end in a perfect kiss.

I only wish I could be enough, being the real me

We tried for a while to keep it right, but opposites sometimes attack,
Love’s train derails in mud and betrayals, we can’t take it all back,
She asked me why we’re separated by a widening undertow
I could only say “it’s complicated,” but we both know

There’s days it’s easy and days it’s hard, but as soon as love’s conditional
More days are hard than in the glow, the euphoria, of the original
Despite the test, and the conscious knowledge of mutual denial
If we could be honest, trust, and rest, we might survive this fiery trial

Time won’t wait, when love feels like hate, to me

When love is tested and we fail, the chance to trust is gone,
Though you want to love each other, something just feels wrong,
When you’re trying hard but know her promise was a lie
And you still wish she still loved you, and you want to die.


(So I already wrote one called Pretend, so this one will be “Pretending.”)

Pretending, 8/25/2016, Deon Mumple

I pretend so well to be so strong,
That you believe it, but it’s wrong.
I’m fractured, crushed, empty, and weak;
There is no Oz-wizard to seek.

I pretend so well to be so smart,
To cover up my broken heart,
To hide the real, small-minded me,
Untouchable, no one can see:

I have an act down pat: fearless,
With rage enough to fight the stress,
And compassion enough to care,
After I face my demons’ dares,

I pretend to be so spiritual,
My answers are so biblical,
But sometimes I feel my soul’s been trod
Under the sandaled feet of God.

I pretend so well that I’m not hurt-
Daggers don’t show under my shirt,
But my heart’s ripped, I trust no one,
It doesn’t heal, I want to run,

Pretending I can run away,
And want to come back again to play,
I can’t, but what I want to do
Is leave everyone and hide from you.


Last night my wife cleaned things out of the refrigerator.  One item was a pan of boring white rice. I had in mind to do something with it rather than throw it out.  I love re-purposing anything, and making something good out of something thought worthless.  The idea is not just for food, but for everything.  One makes art out of trash, one makes great food out of boring leftovers, one rebuilds a home and makes something beautiful from a place that was once thought unliveable, or uncomfortable, or not ideal, one finds the hope and determination to make something good out of one’s worthless-feeling self.  That last one, though.  I need to hear that one myself, frequently.

That pan of rice.  No one was eating that.  It was plain, white, boring rice, and no one made chicken-rice soup, or fried rice because we just had that, or whatever.  She said to throw it away while I was cleaning the kitchen and washing the dishes.

I looked around and realized I had:

Not quite 4C cold white rice
2 eggs
1 -ish C milk, give or take.  It may have been a cup and a half, I didn’t measure it but it barely covered the rice.
3/4 C Sugar, give or take.  I like it a bit sweet- if you make this, taste it while cooking to make sure it tastes good to you.
2tsp vanilla
3tsp cinnamon (I may have overdone that ingredient)
1/4tsp salt
a gentle sprinkling of nutmeg

I threw it all together, whisked, and cooked it until the custard boiled and started to set.  I confess I guessed at the milk.  I just poured it until it looked right.  That dull, white rice destined for the trash can?  It’s now rice pudding, and it’s delicious.  I had some last night.  Tonight if I have more I’ll steal some of my wife’s cream she uses for her coffee, to pour over it.

Sometimes, I’m completely fucked up.  I feel dry, cold, bland, stupid, useless, and I don’t know what to do with my life– that rice is going into the trash. But maybe I can do something with what I have.  I remember the story of the widow at Zarephath and I believe it’s true.  Elijah just asked what she had in the house, and God made it work because she was willing to share.

I want to be re-purposed, as a writer and encourager of discouraged souls.  I want to make the plain white rice of my life into the fragrant, sweet deliciousness of a warm, wonderful, refreshing dessert. I frequently feel discouraged and depressed because there is so much I want to do and don’t have the energy, or financial means, to fix what’s falling apart, or to carry off what I see needing to be done.  I frequently feel useless, or worse, just used.  I can’t do a lot of things, but maybe the limitations are supposed to help me focus and dream and figure out what I can do.

I want you to know that although you and I may feel discouraged, thinking we need something we don’t have, (hope, purpose, dreams, love,) with a little creativity, we might find whatever we need right there in the kitchen of our hearts.  It sounds like treacle, but if I can find an encouraging message from the mess of a pan of cold, leftover white rice, I bet you can accomplish something great with whatever you have in your heart, too.  Look around.  Let it out.  Write it down.  Dream a little instead of just being ready to throw the whole dish away.  Don’t throw it away.  Try something different.

Please try again.  And here, have a dash of love, straight from Deon’s Heart.  I hope you find it’s a little like the nutmeg, doesn’t take much (good thing, too, I don’t feel I have a lot of that to offer sometimes), but I hope it just tweaks the whole recipe and makes it a tiny bit better.

Blessings.  Holy cow, blessings, from ME.  I can hardly believe it myself.