Punk Rock Love
Technically, this is not a poem, but a piece taken from Aaron Cometbus’ Despite Everything, an omnibus of work taken from his zines. I have loved this since the first time I read it over 15 years ago. As a prep school kid from Westchester, I have little in common with the narrator or his girlfriend, but I am still moved by the sentiment.
‘Punk rock love is fucking behind the dumpster down the street from the show. Fucking in the shower at the Hotel Carlton. Making out in the recycle bin. Looking at her tattoos while she’s asleep. Taking showers together. Playing checkers with cigarette butts. Watching her band play. Dumpstering veggies together and then going back to her place and cooking up a feast. Knowing the same parts of the same songs. Both of you having the same ex-girlfriend. Punk rock love is having to tie her shoes for her cuz she’s too drunk. Kissing under the overpass. Her sending you her whole diary to read. Her giving you ten rolls of duct tape for your birthday. Her beating up skinheads. Going to the prom on her motorcycle and checking in the helmets at the coatcheck. Getting astonished stares from all the jocks who thought you were gay, now they feel dumb cuz you’re with an older punk rock bombshell and they’re with their friend’s little sister. Punk rock love is meeting her outside the club and her saying come home with me or I’m gonna kick your fuckin ass. Going home with her and she almost kicks your ass anyway. Sharing hairdye. Riding double on a bike. Being loud and not caring. Sneaky eyes and sleeveless t-shirts. The sun coming up and you realizing that there’s other people on the beach. A good sleazy one week stand. Still being friends afterwards, most of the time. Punk rock love is her sneaking out in the middle of the night to meet you in the park. Running your fingers over her spikey hair. Her chewing on a flower and you having to call poison control when her tongue swells up. Bringing her to the laundromat for a date. Sharing a sleeping bag and waking up freezing in the middle of the night and her, bleary eyed, trying to heat it up with a blowdrier. Social Unrest playing “Ever Fallen in Love?” at the gig you’re both at the night after she dumps you hard. Starting smoking again after that night. Punk rock love is her drawing on you. Her sleeping on your back. Her being mad at you for being such a jerk. Her thinking it’s cool that you stink and your hair stands up by itself. Her having weird roommates who worship eggs. You waiting in the doorway for hours hoping she might pass by. Even in the snow. Her singing along with Descendents records over the air on her late night radio show. Her picture on the front page of the morning paper, getting arrested. Her borrowing your favorite black hat and never giving it back. Punk rock love is finding a girl who drinks as much coffee as you do. Going into the cafe where she works and she looks up and smiles and doesn’t notice as she trips over a pile of 50 dishes. They hit the floor one by one and when it’s all done everyone in the cafe applauds and you both turn beet red. Punk rock love is both of you doing fanzines. Years later her teaching English to college freshmen, you still doing fanzines. Her wearing glasses through her eyes are fine, using crutches though her legs are fine, and talking with a fake speech impediment. You just thinking it’s rad girl style, until later when someone brings up the concept of self-imposed handicaps. Punk rock love is getting your first kiss and almost losing your virginity at the same time, meanwhile you’re trying not to wake up the other person sleeping in the same bed. Groping in the bushes by the freeway and later you realize that all the passing cars could see you. Exploring the wasteland together. holding hands out on the fire escape. Lying in the grass in her backyard. Lying on the astroturf in her bedroom. Drinking tequila on her porch, on your birthday. Riding on her motorcylce early in the cold morning and you’re holding on tight and steam is rising off of the river and you’re thinking how she is maybe even better than the Ramones. Punk rock love is both being broke. Love letters. Finding out she sang “Stay Free” at her high school talent show. Finding out she’s a little crazier than you thought when you finally get her in bed. Her boyfriend getting mad. Walking around with her and her nephew and everyone giving you dirty looks cuz they think he’s your kid. Walking around with her and being happy and proud. Being sad together. Being sad by yourself. Missing her.’