I Want to Be the One You Think About at Night, Arun Jeetoo
Waterloo Press, 2020 £8.00
The title poem of this pamphlet appears at the end, as a two-parter: ‘3 AM (The Lover)’ and ‘3 AM (The Love Object)’. It reminds me of one particular Far Side cartoon — which shows a split screen and two people lying in bed thinking very different thoughts: the one fixated on the other; the other’s mind completely elsewhere. In the first case, here, in Arun Jeetoo’s poem, ‘in my mind / we glide together / through the stars.’ In the second, ‘I pop my feet out the sheets / as they are sticky and hot.’
This is the territory this pamphlet explores: the trickiness of romantic love. The ‘found poem’, ‘Alexa, Do You Love Me?’, reads:
Alexa, do you love me?
I can’t do that but I can find Lionel Richie songs if you like.
Or ‘70 Days’ charts the arc of a new relationship from ‘minds aligned; pleasure’ on ‘Day 11’, to (for instance, on ‘Day 49’): ‘Snogging the curly-haired bartender in the club toilets / while you’re waiting for me at the bar’. ‘I like / me better when I’m with you’, is one thing that poem discovers.
Some of this is challenging territory: romantic love is not an uncomplicated subject, especially when it strays into obsession, or lack of reciprocity. These poems work better, I think, for being collected together. There’s a sense of chaos held; that this is an exploration.
‘THEY’, a poem listed as ‘After A.L. Kennedy’, starts with the line:
THE DELIGHTS OF THEIR BODIES ARE A GIFT THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND.
As if to demonstrate this fact, the other lines are all a muddle — for instance, ‘A GIFT OF ARE DON’T THEIR THEY DELIGHTS, BODIES, UNDERSTAND THE.’
Overall, I was left remembering WH Auden’s poem ‘The More Loving One’:
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.