This is an excerpt from The Daughterliest Son by A. Loudermilk.

Daring Love

I am daring love to be anything else,
to be on its best behavior wicked, to be heartache
in its prime. Love, nod yes, the noggin
of a great disease. Make chain gangs by design,
love; be phantom brawling the nursery, be darkness.

Love, a cooing shadow when a stranger
takes me into his car. Love is my spiced breath,
love cuts teeth. Love unwinds iambic vines
down unrhymed alleyways, jeweled yet innocent weeds
casually blooming the balled tongues of children.
Love dedicates itself, all ruby-sucked thumbs,
to the stewing cradle at the foot of a stranger’s
gut. Tell me truth, love: why want his mouth
that toils like a bad taste after the mint
of the moon?

Just leave husk and gristle. I dare you—

be the reason that my mother hated to be touched.
Thirty years with a man who refused homecomings
and proms, married without mentioning love. My mother.
Every night she bleached the coaldust out of his clothes,
tasted in his mouth the coalmine, the scuttle, the coal.
You are that smoke winter, love, admit it. You waltzed
his black lung, her wallflower cancer. The ICU nurse
said my mother loved me. Love, are you an empty stare
as the heart, your celebrated domain,
latches its last door?

I am daring love to be anything else,
to be heathen in a red room, to be God’s love
for Job, to be kicked dog. Grind your spotlight
on the daughterliest sons. Leave a little despair,
love, be what the least of us can claim.