Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Love You Sweatheart: Overpass Love Poetry

If you've lived in the area long enough you might have seen it. A piece of graffiti that said this:


Sometime in the early 90s or thereabouts, this phrase was famously spray-painted "SURRENDER DOROTHY"-style on an overpass on the way from Black Mountain to Asheville.

And if you remember it, did you know about this poem? I heard Garrison Keillor read it on the Writer's Almanac one morning a few years ago.

"I Love You Sweatheart" by Thomas Lux

A man risked his life to write the words.
A man hung upside down (an idiot friend
holding his legs?) with spray paint
to write the words on a girder fifty feet above
a highway. And his beloved,
the next morning driving to work...?
His words are not (meant to be) so unique.
Does she recognize his handwriting?
Did he hint to her at her doorstep the night before
of "something special, darling, tomorrow"?
And did he call her at work
expecting her to faint with delight
at his celebration of her, his passion, his risk?
She will know I love her now,
the world will know my love for her!
A man risked his life to write the world.
Love is like this at the bone, we hope, love
is like this, Sweatheart, all sore and dumb
and dangerous, ignited, blessed--always,
regardless, no exceptions,
always in blazing matters like these: blessed.

"I Love You Sweatheart" appears in Lux's "New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995" (Houghton Mifflin Co).

According to Wikipedia, Lux is a "core faculty member" at the Warren Wilson M.F.A. program for writers, which explains how he encountered this lost piece of overpass poetry.

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