I'm Not Romantic

/ Chayla Jaye Venzon (Writer), Kevin Phan (Illustrator)

Poetry2 min reading time

No. 4

Text saying 'I'm Not Romantic' is overlaid on top of a series of red, pink, and white paint strokes. 'I'm Not' is colored in red while 'Romantic' is colored in green.

“I’m not sentimental—I’m as romantic as you are. The idea, you know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will last—the romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won’t.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

I'm not romantic
The borrowed kisses, familiar touches
Sweet words before sleep—
The goodbye to an empty bed—
Become a faint nostalgia
A whisper I’ll always never want to hear

Forced laughter, old trophies
Late nights in the passenger seat
After home games, after store runs
Cheap answers from school days,
Nine to five weariness that tightens our every breath.

When did we get comfortable clutching the heirloom jewelry
That stretches between us,
Waiting for the wrong sigh
To snap what is always restrung?

I look away for one second and the thin strand pulls apart,
Bringing the fight we were no strangers to.
I watch the sharpied glass on the windows through my self
Broken over, repaired
With cheap apathy and apology to apology to apology
That tried but never truly satisfied us.
The cycle of jitters overcomes us at every wrong word

When your fire comes and throwing sand doesn’t work
I must walk into it
So the flames don’t lash on another face—
Embrace another pile of flesh.
A fire that I once knew as warm, nurturing in its light
Has somehow stripped away every sliver of my skin

I know that your promises to change
Will be realized when Sisyphus finally makes it to the top.
You’ll tinder underneath the brush,
Letting the wind take advantage of your docility
Until I breathe into a spot of flame,
Recreate the suffocation—
A fire to remake me as you’ve said
To burn off the dead skin, to reveal the fresh pink
It’s what’s best for me what’s best for me
What is best for me?

I bear every echo and unwanted memory
Carrying a box filled with school notebooks,
Old pictures, chewed gum
As you ask me how my day was
Or look at me as I am a silver glass to you
And for a second your pride destroys
Every notion that our love is normal
And will forever bury itself deep into my skin
Your skin