Tag Archives: Erotic Poetry

Poetry Crush Valentine 2016, vol 1

8 Feb

Part 1 of the 2016 Poetry Crush Valentine Issue with contributing sweetpeas: Bianca Stone, Timothy Liu, Jennifer L. Knox, Steven Leyva, Joe Hall, Loren Erdrich, Joanna Penn Cooper, Brynne Rebele-Henry, Lauren Gordon, Vanessa Gabb, Cheryl Quimba & J. Hope Stein (me, duh). ♥♥♥ 

 

Be Mine

Be Mine

♥♥♥ Bianca Stone

 

 

 

 

Summer Fling

Alone enough tonight
to settle for

a beer, crack

open whatever we
can get our

hands on—high

summer sizzle on
a wraparound porch

where voices

of our unborn children
are reciting Rumi

inside an oak.

♥♥♥ Timothy Liu

 

 

Shock Collars

“Where are we going?” Sandy asked Todd.

We’re not going anywhere. You’re getting shot into space,” Todd said and clicked Sandy’s belt into the buckle.

Suddenly, she understood. All the hours he’d spent with her, his slavish attention. How happy he was when she pushed the button and the pellets came out. Way, way, way too happy. Sandy had often wondered if Todd was actually retarded.

She didn’t bother saying anything as he flipped the final switches.

“You’re a good dog,” he told her, crawling backwards through the hatch.

“Go to hell,” she said.

***

“I don’t feel that you love me—I don’t even feel that you really like me,” Mishka said, on the verge of tears.

Sandy kept her eyes glued to a page in Where the Red Fern Grows.

Mishka waited, then lost her shit, “This is exactly what I’m talking about! You’re too—what?—busy?—to talk to the only other person alive on this planet? You’re nicer to the spidercats than you are to me!”

Sandy raised one eye to the window. Yep, the spidercats were still out there, waiting patiently for her in the light emanating from the window of the rocketship. Once the dust storms died down a little, she’d go out and toss the gravity ball to them. They loved that. And gazing at their own faces reflected in her mirrored helmet.

♥♥♥ Jennifer L. Knox

 

 

 

Dinnerware

Loren2

♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich

 

Aubade for Nuit #1 

Sunrise burst in like an angry lover
packed its things in a trunk of fog
And wasn’t heard of again for days

You said “fuck off” fogging the apartment window
your thigh pristine with sweat instead of sunlight
and I thought that curse was for the eye

of heaven not the swaying drunks
gawking on the cobblestone streets below.
What darkness filled the night’s yawn

did not wholly give way as we closed lips
around wizened mugs of coffee. All the x’s
had fallen off the calendar, and we sat

naked on the kitchen floor, two days married
laughing at obtuse angles of our fumbled sex,
under your breath you said “how do teenagers

do it,” and I had no answer, so we laughed
again, and watched men now free of vomit
walk unwittingly into the sky’s discarded nightshirt.

♥♥♥ Steven Leyva

 

 

 

 

from Easy Poem

3.

To be a poet and alive
is to be this river, to drink your piss.
That is, I want to drink your piss and eat your shit—
To watch you grow
a curious tail of feces
on the bank of the banks

of the bank of the banks—
divided by revulsion, to lick up
the hot
—scalding—and swallow
sin-eater for a funeral for something so large

—from Samir Naqqash, Mizrahi novelist, “My exquisite wine
has turned to vinegar. My blood
to excrement.” You blurt out: “What do you want?”
“Steal!…Steal!
…Steal!”

Taking care for awhile, that’s what property is.
Poor are God’s friends,
a thought could be worse.
Free sample,
expensive meal.
So long as there is the productive sun
how much does this life weigh
baked from crumbs?

So there’s that, Beloved.
Here’s another shot
at a song:

♥♥♥ Joe Hall

 

 

 

 

For the Purposes of Accuracy  

Toward the end of couples therapy that day, she looked down at the empty water bottle she was holding and had the urge to beat herself on the forehead with it.  As Mark Rothko once said, “Silence is accurate.”  Or, in this case, beating yourself on the forehead with a water bottle is accurate.

As she walked out the door of the therapist’s office, she shook his hand and chuckled, a shrugging kind of chuckle, by which she meant, “Whelp.”  In the car on the way there, she’d heard a song called “Sad Jukebox.”  On the way back, she listened to a song called “Strange Victory” and chuckled again, then muttered, “I’m not crazy.  You’re crazy.”

♥♥♥ Joanna Penn Cooper

 

 

 

 

Buckingham 

In the sad ocean the men say that two girls and
Four legs and a red gape is nothing new
I would purge/I would use my rib for a necklace
Go to the canal and let the sun burn us open
We spit out watermelon seeds like little organs
I crush grapes with my molars and grind until everything splits open & the juice
Runs into both of our mouths and we rinse it out with tepid water and citrus seeds
I say make my body a building and light it on fire and we
Walk to church with your wings stuck across your back with Elmer’s glue
Feathers sticking between my teeth and the glitter we doused ourselves in like gasoline Sloughing into my eyes and lips like a million small planets

♥♥♥ Brynne Rebele-Henry

 

 

 

 

That Old Chestnut 

everywhere and everywhere unfettered
in our bank rolls, and this looks normal

the dog snores in sleep, peanut butter
and bread-mouthed squirrels are porched

even the grubs in our loamy tomatoes
are dreaming of legs, muscular calves

to run on         this home an ocean
a cemetery of shitting sparrows

this bruised cheek an island, handy
figment of peace, the baby a white flag

everywhere and everywhere marriage
to batten, to seal the shutters

♥♥♥ Lauren Gordon

 

 

 

Before you leave

0db2dc33a210807931ab886ee25f0e38

♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich

 

The Lady of Civilization

Don’t get married. A great love does not exist without protest,
my mother told me, have a beautiful run without law, with protest!

Organdyed from birth, with a godless belief in the system of things,
in search of some twin belief, a diadem in your mouth, you were named protest.

I named you and you went, taking extremities into you for decryption,
opening into wheat fields, your hands passing along without protest.

Everything that passes for voyage is us awash in injustice, mortal,
mortal, being young we bleed, loving nothing more than protest.

What could be more legitimate than an idea between us,
fatal or not, here or not, time must pass and so we must protest.

A love poem begins with hazard somehow, the concept of time, a cloud
calling itself gas, only that, and I calling that protest.

♥♥♥ Vanessa Gab

 

 

 

 

A Stone Etching: Vows 

I, Edmund Dantes, do
solemnly swear to
burn the world
in effigy. Small flames.

What else is just? Here, name
revenge after me.

Next I plan to skin skin
as in a sack of wine
a time to flay and tell
all goats, “Get over it”
this cold sore on the lips
of every guard with a tray of food.

the lock up stole
more than my future
children, my great love
of sea, my ability to sleep

in a bed, I must be on,
at all times
the bare floor,

alone – I was
alone again – again
condemned to silence
and no trial, nothing like a trial.

To live is not payback
enough

some magistrates need hurt
and memory will kill.
The Reaper’s greatest gift
Is remembering

to show up. I keep
showing up

promising the only escape I
know; I am sewing
a sack of canvas
for god. The future is black,

Mercedes, as night in your hair.

♥♥♥ Steven Leyva

 

 

 

 

Into The Next Blue

We live
improbably

in this time with drinking
glasses

with green sprouting oh
how I wanted

savage like an undertow
break-necked
coarse

you only
that

loosely limping

mine

remember
remember

this entreaty: on and on is

improbable but still
sure

♥♥♥ Cheryl Quimba

 

 

 

 

The Violence 

It was so quiet you could hear
an envelope being slid

under the door. Even without

tearing it open, you knew
it was over. The same way

you found an orange rind

that still had a whiff of citrus
to it and knew it was his

though he hadn’t stepped

into your kitchen for years.
His hunger had been all

too casual, ear to your chest

late at night, the neighbor’s
TV coming through the walls

with much excitement even if

the voices stayed muffled.
Back then you knew his cock

was the best thing between

you as he peeled off the shell
from your hard-boiled egg

morning after morning

in one complete spiral without
saying a word—the salt

on the table left untouched.

♥♥♥ Timothy Liu

 

 

 

From: I Lob You

Sometimes two countries touching are too much for their people. Sometimes we talk about love like two professionals dismantling a bomb. The last time Millie saw Demetri, her neck was red from kissing & Demetri brought two mittens to her face & said – “Hey, try some snow.” —You can travel all the way to I-don’t-care-where but it’s not going to change the way you feel about this: When Demetri’s mother saw his body lobbed over the fence from the explosion, she said – “That’s not him—that’s just the body of a dead cat”— When we first met you crawled up my overalls & up my braids & sat on my shoulder for years.

♥♥♥ J. Hope Stein

 

 

 

The Small Self is Not So Real After All

The human being is dumb most of the time.
Raving on his phone on the street
like escaped gods. Raving like a plastic bag
caught in a tree for decades. Raving
like an electrical wire at the starlings.
The grocery stores are holding back
a great wave of perpetual sadness.
The famine is never coming. And panic lies
just under the little disturbances at the checkout
along with the frightening experience
of realizing the people who cared for you
are completely insane.

♥♥♥ Bianca Stone

 

 

 

 

Bye 

Loren3

♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich

 

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Poetry Crush: Everyday is Valentine’s (Vol II)

11 Feb

picnic-at-hanging-rock-still

From Picnic at Hanging Rock “To Saint Valentine!”
An honor to valentine with heartbreakers:  Joe Hall, Cheryl Quimba, Joanna Penn Cooper, Leah Umansky, Larry Sawyer, Peter Kline, Brittany Perham, Sara Lefsyk, Gregory Crosby, Kristy Bowen, Maria Teutsch, not_I (Ana Bozicevic & Sophia Le Fraga), Sasha Fletcher, Lauren Hunter, DJ Dolack, Stephanie Berger, Justin Petropoulos, Erika Anderson & J. Hope Stein (me).   

 

A WISH

Moving ever slower
just as square brackets
hug a sentence my
unfortunate nature is
to buckle as you bend.
Hailstorm our guardian so
expansive. Where to spend
all the soft paper. Just as
the only road leads
away from here, we
will not ever recover.

Joe Hall & Cheryl Quimba

 

 

VALENTINE FOR YOUR BOSS

Don’t hesitate to serve your boss.
Sit quietly and he will come to you.
The blessing of an employee
is in the corners of her mouth.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

When a great boss says “I kill you”
lay your head across his laptop.
Throw your documents in the river.
This is how we measure time.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Do not despise small documents.
Do good for your body, but
there is no one who does not die—
Do not delay in your office.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Be a cat in your boss’s presence.
Do not give a wary look
towards the elevator door—
You do not know the length of your life.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Do not hesitate to serve your boss.
Do let linger without enquiry.
Put myrrh on your head, dress in fine linen.
Sit quietly and he will come to you.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

J. Hope Stein

 

 

LOVE SONG OF FIONA AND AXEMAN

American Horror Story

The Axeman says, “never assume anything about me,”
but Fiona says, “I don’t believe in ghosts.”

He is still-at-heart man
with a do-not-forget-me tongue.

He is in tune and soulful
and she, she  is going by ear.

There is a cadence to their love
and a faith in their fear

*

He says, “I’ve been watching you
since you were eight years old
… and then I started to love you as a man.”

She is his pull of daylight
He is her remembered quiet,
and her fray.

When he says, “I love you more than jazz, babydoll”

She hears  more than
more than I needed.

For, Love has a delicate swash
and she, she swishes.

Even the dead want love,
but the dead at heart love nothing.

 Leah Umansky

 

 

A SMALL MAN LOOKED AT ME

A small man looked at me. He said “you are the Fritz Perls look alike
in the apartment complex of my life and I want to make a tincture
out of your saline eye drops and ride away with you into the desert
in a cadillac full of very small and miniature ponies.”

I told this small man ;oolong at me, if I had a mule, a parachute and long flowing locks
I would jump out of this plane, put you in my shopping cart and push you
clean to Brazil where we would change our names, cut our hair
and join the local militia. After that, we would lead a small army of chickens
to the sea and, after many days of floating, I would catch a small fish
and name it Pavlov. Then, we would all jump into the sea and swim
until we reached the large island of Europe, where we would start
a mariachi band with my birth family and yours and the sun would set
and we would all drink sugar water and go to sleep
beneath a large curtain of black air.

Sara Lefsyk

 

NEW YORK VALENTINE

Gently, let us sleep my love
our hearts entwined as one.
Forever you’ll be my Catherine Deneuve
uh, and I’m your Fifth Avenue John Donne.
Come, let us prove it, while we may
knowing ‘tis no sin love’s fruit to steal.
You’re hotter than anything off eBay.
Our banter’s straight off Key & Peele.
Use me for your street-side fashion show; take
refuge in these sculpted arms.
Sweet, I’ll get with child the mandrake,
even if this shit was a false alarm.
Look, I sought fit words, so now you know.
Forsooth, your boyfriend sold you oregano.

Larry Sawyer

 

 

FRAGMENTS (2)

1.
In January my grandmother says she is anxious for the little fellow to get here and join the troupe.

2.
In January a dapper man who looks like Buck Henry gives me a very kind look on 60th Street as I leave my third ultrasound that month.  “Advanced maternal age.”

3.
In February, after being in labor for 12 hours, I text my mom on the 13th that you will be a Valentine’s Day baby.

4.
In February the doula comes over on the 14th and tucks me into the attic bed to see if I can sleep, despite the two days of contractions.  C lies there with me.  The doula tucks him in, too.

5.
On the morning of the 15th, we head to the hospital.  The doula heats rice-filled socks in the microwave and ties them to me.  We call the car service.  I wear the rice socks to the hospital.

6.
In the early morning of the 16th, I am lying in a darkened room with a catheter in my back.  A nurse named Ashley comes in and out to make notations.  She is young and pleasant and doesn’t talk too much.  She is from a southern state.  I ask her which one, but I’ve forgotten what she said.

7.
In the early morning of the 16th, the doula says in a quiet voice, I think it’s snowing.  My thought is something like, I’ve been waiting for some beautiful thing.  A while after that they tell me it’s time for the pushing, which is less a beautiful thing than a necessity thing.  C holds one leg and a nurse named Eve holds the other.  Eve is my favorite, and I remember that she’s from Oklahoma, but I’m not thinking about that during the pushing.  At one point, the doctor lifts her hands back up, and they are bright red.

8.
On the morning of the 16th, you join the troupe.

9.
I study your hands for a month.  Their esoteric gestures.

10.
I skipped some parts.

11.
We are mammals with the fluid world within and between us.

12.
I sing you the hymn “Farther Along,” which I heard in a movie years ago.  I know very few of the words. You are listening then and interested.  When I look up the lyrics online, the sidebar says, Main subject: Encouragement.

Joanna Penn Cooper

*originally published in South Dakota Review

 

 

DON’T_PROMISE

not_I  (Ana Bozicevic and Sophia Le Fraga)

 

 

NOCTURNE

So what if one day you will need to be named,

need to have signal laid upon you.

So what.

The instruments polish themselves.

Some gods already laud you
with cheap satins

plastic jewels that click
when they collide

but do not chime.

And you don’t chime.
You bow

and your hair reaches great lengths to the earth.

Evening when you bow
your hair climbs across itself
and reaches great

lengths to the earth.

The moon almost fellates its own magic,

tosses back
a little yellow number and

look

I only want
a bit of trouble.

I only want to be codified,

the signal laid upon me.

So what if the instruments are named;

so what if they are only here to polish.

DJ Dolack

 

 

MIRRORFORM PSALM

For You, I’d strip down bare,
but won’t You lay me cover?
Dallying with forever
is a high-risk affair.

I’ve tried new underwear
to tempt a tempted lover,
made my whole wardrobe over.
For You I’d strip down bare.

Peter Kline

 

 

THE YEAR OF THE WATER

The bed we shared is kelp is kelp is kelp
anchored
on a foot of rock.

Your stomach
against
my spine in the year of water.

At night we rippled beneath the year of a tide
pulling us apart.

All the clarity
a marine layer gives you. Clarity

is your stomach
against
my spine in the bed of salt.

Maria Teutsch

 

 

A QUIVER FULL OF EROS

A quiver full of arrows for the river,
it wants to fall in love—
pulling itself from the spring, mirrors
the small boy in rouge. Memory sent him
to the water, far below
the python’s spewing apartment
meublé. When he left, he spat,
on the wall, basalt, down the hole,
venom, impressed
upon the wax tablet of my head.
In bed by eleven. In the morning,
applied my visage with a desert
palette. There wasn’t
ever any muse or music for makeup,
but Clio would remedy that
remedy for pallor, if she could, rewrite
with a rattle of thunder from
her father. I bared my face to him.

Stephanie Berger

 

 

house made of ghosts and small animals

For every love song, there is a broken dove skeleton
rotting in the eaves. A leaving, that requires
nothing but the door opening and closing just once.
A heaviness of suitcases and floor lamps and
record albums piled awkwardly in the trunk.
You see, my motives are mud dark, made of larkspur
and longing.   Soon you will find me replacing each dish
and hairbrush in someone else’s house,  replacing
p with q and mucking up the quick exit.  Will find me
ravenous and bleeding beneath the weedy undergrowth.
For every broken promise, I give you a ring of roses.
A prolific number of tiny mice inhabiting the baseboards.
Animal, vegetable, mineral.
The terrible goblin heart of my goodbye.

Kristy Bowen

 

 

DOUBLE PORTRAIT

Today my heart said you 
I want to be with you above all others
though not very long
ago my heart said her
I want to be with her more 
than I’ll ever want to be with anyone else
& because I couldn’t
go on living without her
not for another minute
I began living with her & all this
time I was happy I was happy
to be happy I believed
things would continue
this way every day always
but today all day 
& on & on through
the night & all night my head
on her chest my heart said
though I said no no my heart
said & would not stop saying
you yes you yes you 

Brittany Perham

 

 

the gospel according to tough love

i thought the world would revolve without us

flinging your hands into a darkness you can grab hold of, hold on little baby, how’d you get so goddamn strong? shall i speak to the spit flinging from my lips, the spark from your fingertip, (y’all seen that before), the corners rounded without guidance, watch her go zero to 180 without blinking, leather and spare skin cells underneath chipped nails

“hey, putting my DNA on things IS art”

the devil on your earlobe baby. the devil in my eardrum, demanding nothings. even during my first burglary, i wanted to touch things i had no business. i’m gonna leave some of myself here. i’m the absolute pinkest thing in this dark room. like a newborn before its first breath, let’s inspire empathy. hold it in; i’m asking you to not breathe with me, and we’ll keep them on those toes until we’re sure my superpower applies.

(i infuse myself, whole and unworried, into each and every cell i carry.  i’m a factory of my smallest selves, tags perfect and unaware. these i leave casually anywhere.)

that darkness is always getting velvet, soft on my skin and eyes. those times a seatbelt is a hug. those times you don’t regret a too-long embrace. you exhale yourself to the edge of this room, then inhale until the walls split on your precious face. the world collapses. i thought i could be the wildness, but find myself in every room i’m in. why i like to see my breath like smoke. why i like to be the last body in a room. i’m gonna touch everything, someday.

but nothing i know could slow us down

Lauren Hunter

 

dreamboats

Today the air conditioner exploded
in a scene of silent and totally imaginable futility.
Here I go again, starting to talk about the sunset
as though you couldn’t imagine it yourself.
A tree grew in the yard last night and we hung lanterns from it
like it was any other night
or any other dream. Dear Eloise
you are the albino alligator lurking in my heart
at unknown intervals and I
I am the top 40 station you conveniently forgot
and together we are a documentary that will be spoken of for years to come.
In the yard were the neighbors calling out
ANOTHER NIGHT ANOTHER DREAM
BUT ALWAYS YOU as though we weren’t all thinking this
every day of our lives. The lanterns from earlier
hung low and beat with every sharp breath
as we pulled each other closer and loosed the fabric
of our lives slicked with sweat and piled
in the corner. Someone got excited
and set off some fireworks
and the neighborhood committee got together
and shot them in the head. They said no one
is to celebrate on a school night but me
I could not disagree more. What better thing to celebrate
than a school night? Dear Eloise
I hear tonight it is supposed to storm
like nobodies business and the heat will finally break
open as wide as the sky.
Dear Eloise you can find me on the roof,
building a boat from the chairs,
waiting for something larger than everything
to sweep me away and pull me under and fill my lungs
with something heavier and more potent than air
and I can see that alligator surfacing again,
I can feel myself choking up as its red right eye rolls over me
and blinks once for yes, twice for no, three times
for I forget what. Dear dreamboat goes the alligator
If this is you trying to say I am a wild animal
good job. You did it. Tonight I will take you by the hand
and lead you adrift. If you make it back to shore
we can get married and I’ll let you put a baby in me
and we can eat spaghetti in the tub and give her three or four names
and teach her to grow up into a boat that will sail
in all kinds of weather and then I’ll let you put another in me
and another and another and their names will be like mountains
because they will be magnificent to behold
and one day one of them will fall down a well and you’ll dive in after him
and break every bone in your body
and use those bones to build a ladder
and our son will climb to safety
and in the morning there you’ll be, naked, in bed,
preparing to construct for us a porch, and just in time for summer!
and every night you’ll realize
that there is not enough money to take care of things
or to put away for the future because the future
died years ago and all we have is this, right here, and it’s terrifying,
and you’ll stand there watching the children sleep
and I’ll sneak up beside you like a knife in the dark
with my hand in your pocket stealing the last bits of love
you secreted away, because they’re mine now, because you’re mine now,
and as we stand there, waiting for our children to grow old enough
to resent the burden we’ve become to them, it strikes us
that it is a real mystery to us all how we’ve made it this far.
Then we turn slightly, and speak our vows to each other,
and they go something like this:
I will put up with you until we kill each other
because I will love you from now until we kill each other
and I will build you a home inside of me
and we will cook each other dinner when we’re hungry
and knife each other in a soft place when we’re angry
and I will hold your hand until it breaks
because I will never let go of your hand
and I won’t mind your problems because they’re a part of you and I love you
I love you even though that is a decision I deeply regret
and if you ever need a presence to keep things from getting too quiet
give me a call. I will be there with you when the lights are out.
If you want to know if that is a knife at your throat
the answer is that I will love you for as long as we both shall live.

Sasha Fletcher

 

[selections from because we go to the same places to hide]

//these maps because so casual fill the gaps reasoned for flowers
she eats stems
he paces
bed systems       holds her here

associative bearings
of bodies               all that disorder

fled through a rind of eclipse

contractual motion         she pears
instances             heels the limits of
to have held

curious
tympana or this hemisphere
rests on nothing but cause
and effect

ants distanced
in proportion to intervals
between musical notes

combed with sun

she is all
cataracts and shifting clouds

Justin Petropoulos

 

SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE 

Impermanence from permanence,
sound from plastic. A scarf, a shawl,
a shroud of static.

A sundial in the dark of a school night
told me this about love:

that there would be dancing
in the dark, walking in the park,
& reminiscing;

that piña coladas were the key
to all mythologies;

that even in the depths
of a so damned depression
you could set your sights
on Monday

& get yourself undressed…

A voice from the future
said sad songs say so much less

than you will come to know.

Turning, turning, AM amidst a.m.,
round & round… the child’s hand

is farther than the man’s. The Seventies
are over, man. The Seventies

are eternal. The voice said,

Everything that’s lost 
will be restored,
& then lost again.

The radar understands
what the grid cannot imagine.

The shadows cast themselves, while
tomorrow daydreams tonight.

Everything that’s lost
will be restored,
& then lost again.

Someone found a letter you wrote me.

They read it on the radio,
in the voice of the Future,

& I heard it just today.

The DJ translated it as
entanglement.

Separated by a million songs,
but not the speed of light…

& you gazed up at me,
& the answer was plainly seen,

felt

before it could be understood.

Every measurement agrees
that we
spin counterclockwise.

You & I, observed, by… …

Mystery, static. It does,
& does not, matter. Everything

restored last chance
will be lost last dance

& restored tonight

Gregory Crosby

 

ARMY OF LOVERS ROBOT VALENTINE

The army of lovers movement will give out handmade valentines to strangers this Friday.

Robot valentine

Erika Anderson

Poetry Crush: Everyday is Valentine’s (Vol.I)

9 Feb

cake

Scene from Picnic at Hanging Rock:  “To Saint Valentine!”
An honor to valentine with first-rate hearts-of-cake:  Shane McCrae, Hannah Gamble, Paige Taggart, Amy Lawless, Todd Colby, Joanna Penn Cooper, Douglas Piccinnini, Jared White, Melissa Broder, Rauan Klassnik, Rena Mosteirin, Lee Ann Roripaugh & J. Hope Stein (me, duh).
MOST OFTEN NEIGHBOR

Most often neighbor as you       most if neighbor means you only

Most often you most often spring pink      suns the trees the cherry now

Most often neighbor to the blue immediate blue sky

And none of the rain in the sky although rain

strips the pink light from the branches

As neighbors do although rain claims the branches into blossom

As neighbors do as you

have claimed me into life most often neighbor // The pink trees neighbor

to the blue sky not for      being pink / For being

from red the same distance      the sky is from the blue it is

As I with you from any man as you from any woman

Shane McCrae

 

THE LITERARY MAN

At the end of his life he still had many
devotees, and for that, he was grateful.

Several devotees lined the window seats
of his bedroom, many of them
with his books in hand.

Most important to him, however,
was that he still was an erotic fixture
in the lives of women,

so several of them sat facing his bed,
vaginas glistening atop literal cushions.

Hannah Gamble

 

NEGLECT EMOTIONALLY

The next morning I noticed that he had this weird foreign object in his chest—but he wasn’t bleeding. It was almost like a tattoo. Babe what the….is that? We stood in the mirror of his bathroom not noticing. Big like a car part, I couldn’t believe it didn’t make him double over in pain as it moved its way up to his forehead. We weren’t on acid. I looked into his eyes and he looked into my eyes and we smiled a lot and ate takeout in bed. Did the delivery guy see your forehead? He just laughed, slapped my ass, and we ate chorizo burritos. I then felt immediately embarrassed. I keep soy milk in my fridge for when he comes over despite its disgusting aftertaste. I learned to really look at the people. Now if he isn’t in front of me or touching me, I ache throughout my whole body and the physical pain only increases over course of the day. So our bodies in their primitive states moved into a single body absent of worldly pain.

Amy Lawless

LEGENDS IN SEXPLOITATION

I’ve half-a-heart to kneel in the centerfold of every love magazine
To be in a billowing ball gown, would be, to dust the pony off and retire for fair-trade My spirit can’t be outsourced; it is inspiration from the centerfolds of every love issue! It is high and mighty like the spirit-clause you just signed
I’ve prospered from affairs on the high-angle with legendary jewels and redingotes
I horse backed along the boardwalk and later performed oral sex
I was accomplished, so shoot me!
I was skilled, so kill me!
I was adorned, so need me!
Properly keel over afterwards
I’ll dispose of your body into the trifecta of human duality
How we provoke and onward shift amicably
I’ve got pains for the hype, it sucker punches me into corners so unpleasant
Here we are, just the two of us, forever shunned to a hard earned maintenance
So kill me why don’tchya

Paige Taggart

OCCASIONALLY, I REMOVE YOUR BRAIN THROUGH YOUR NOSE

Sure, I’ve thought about fucking you in my desk chair, silently not to disturb the neatness of your yellow summer shorts. Silently not to disturb our colleagues in surrounding cubicles. You putting small paperclips in my hair, your hands suggesting the rocking of my skull. Me straddling your lap, your bare ass in my desk chair shapes, suctioning into each other— We would continue to make the sounds of good business. A conference call with Coca-Cola, an email to Citibank, a spreadsheet of year-over-year gross profits. Me elevated in your lap, my face clearing just over the cubicle partition just visible enough across the office, my expression dismembered like a poet who’s fallen out of favor with her king.

J. Hope Stein

 

TONIGHT

Tonight I’m going to shake your hand into butter,
curve around you until you’re gel,
climb the soft pieces of you with spikes,
insert a vibrating dial, and conjure you
into living goop. I will slip my hand
under your belt; and lose a wisdom tooth,
make a necklace of it, and hang it around
your neck. My gift of light will shimmer
on your smooth throat, and all the institutes of longing
will permeate the landscape with medicinal
cloud formations that disperse calming
solutions of tingle water and kink spray.
I will secrete a secret mud that enhances
your ability to thrust your hips into mine
on a bed that is damp and purple.
You are so smooth that when you get up,
you leave behind an impression
of our Lord and Savior.

Todd Colby

“LITTLE” “BEAR” for R.E.H.P.

I’ve said so cover’d and un
“the fruit is real”
the something as much

retain me

who is there
that I shake out a name

a system like the sun
is as arable

so I grow incurably so

entre amigos

woods? si, woods
spring the lock
in that I so nilled
semi-anonymous
like wilted mint
in public revived
I will

Douglas Piccinnini

THE GIANTS

In the light that should be out already, Lulu is making
You forget what it means to be a girl
And when she puts her bobbing face close to yours
And when she kisses you it is a poet’s kiss
That puts things into you I have put already
As Peer flosses his teeth for hours until they sparkle
With the knowledge of growing up amongst poets
And the precision fucking that is demanded by hotel life
About which all I want to convey is the smell
I never really learned the language another language uses
To describe this I want to tell you about my childhood
Which was many missed opportunities for me to help carry
The bag so big and the flesh so slack and thin
The normals ate who were enormous, ponderous and beautiful
And I was staring straight through to the ass bone and the ribs
And remarkably they had ceased for a moment to rot
And in the cloud cover glow of that luminescence
You could see all of the stains on my teeth with black light
You could see what I would look like when I get old
And it was not so bad really only a lot older looking
And more courageous and less fuckable but still in the same hotel
Because there never was an explosion the terrorists failed
To outwit the geologists after all that underneath the sand
The rock is porous and gravel will always be useful

Jared White

DO YOU SMELL SMOKE?

Apply this soothing gel made from roots and branches
to your forearms when you jump up warrior style
and run fist-first to the kitchen in your sleep.
I’ll buy you almond croissants.  I’ll hum to you
with my pretty good pitch.  You are falling asleep
and chuckling sweetly to yourself when you think of me;
I am taking photos of you sleeping and posting them online.
I know you don’t mind, so I break into your house
while you’re out and teach myself the bass.  Don’t worry
about that smoke smell, it’s my gentleness you’re loving.

Joanna Penn Cooper

DAZE BONES

Notgod set me on fire and was like good luck
I think the shirt you wear is ultimate
When it turns red nothing can walk soft
Maybe birth me up on your fingers
You taste like notsober alcoholics
Various breeds of errors and the way I feel you
No human power no human power
I cannot go there with you and I cried
The other life I was so nauseous
You didn’t know I almost threw up
What if I threw up on your tongue?
When I put you in my mouth I got better
Forgive every body its mouth
I talk like I am sister heaven
I am really sister darkness
I am both at once and you are also
You didn’t know you were an echo
In the dust I’ll kill you up
I think you learn by unbeing
Like first you die and then go oh

Melissa Broder

& I CAN HEAR YOU PURR

An old fat nymphomaniac who just can’t cum no matter how much she gasps, & wheezes, and rattles, & drips, filthy & black, all over yr fingers, neck & face, till finally you lift her, like a bird in yr fist. [ I wake up and a Meth-Head’s trying to sneak off with my Ipod, my house and my words. It’s Ron Silliman & his face’s ruined. “Kill the rat!” my wife explodes. Like a mushroom ] & twist her head off. Her eyes (so sweet & so tender) in yr left hand, ask so innocently—O, how did this all go so wrong?—while her body, in yr fist, continues to beat.

Rauan Klassnik

IF YOU HURT THE ONE YOU LOVE

make sure it is on their birthday
so they can follow the story
of the awful thing you did or said
with “…and on my birthday???”

You’ll be giving them
the gift of others’ supercharged
sympathies which is also,
unfortunately, high-voltage hatred

directed at you.
But you probably already
had that coming, didn’t you,
you self-hating, off-putting poet?

Hannah Gamble

tsunami in love: kintsukuroi / golden joinery

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful. – Barbara Bloom

safe is just another empty signifier
when she is water and the clay
that cupped her was a shattered bowl

triggering tsunami a sparkly blue shooter
pinging the splintered mib
of the fractured nuclear reactor core

this is what playing for keeps means
this broken imperfection / these cracked
masks / this crazed helplessness

this is what no going back means
no taking back the feral chipped singing
gouging open her fault lines and wounds

aggrandizing them with molten gold
blood veins of cinnabar alchemizing
to mercury like smelt silvering the shore

safe is just another empty signifier
because she is water and the clay
that cupped her was a shattered bowl

until after months in pieces she lets you
hold and rock her in these postures of repair
(and when she spills you do not drown

and when she rages in her radioactive
expansion cloud chamber you become
that slim umbilical tethering the astronaut

seaweed that fetters rafts of sea otters)
buttery lamp light by the side of the bed
gilding together what’s broken no more

Lee Ann Roripaugh

MY DEAR ISHMAEL

As most young pains
whaling their voyage
a fine, boisterous something about everything

her great original—the Tyre of this Carthage;—the place where the first dead American
whale was stranded. Those aboriginal whalemen
give chase to the Leviathan?

imported cobble-stones
risk a harpoon
a night, a day
my destined port, a very dark and dismal night
cheerless with anxious grapnels
pieces of silver—myself

gloom towards the north
darkness towards the south—
my dear Ishmael

My Dear Ish

Rena Mosteirin

Poetry Crush: Valentine Issue

5 Feb

I asked the authors from Hyacinth Girl Press to share their favorite erotic poems and here is the result.  I must say that the list is more than I hoped for and incredibly diverse and that I learned a lot.    (Above Image from “Picnic at Hanging Rock”)


Silk of a Soul By Zbigniew Herbert

Initially, I chose Galway Kinnell’s “Rapture,” as my favorite erotic poem – and it is a headily, beautifully erotic work – but then I began to think about other poets whose work I find very sensual, if not blatantly erotic. I’ve been reading Zbigniew Herbert’s The Collected Poems on and off for over a year now, and he came to mind right away . . . but when I searched through the book, nothing jumped out at me and said “erotic” like Kinnell’s poems will say “erotic.” I was a little stumped – what made me think Herbert wrote erotic poems? – and then I found “Silk of a Soul,” and I remembered why. In this poem, Herbert reveals the sexual charge that comes from intimacy, but not the intimacy of flesh: the intimate act of witness, of seeing the intangible part of another person. His spare, charged lines (“I must/peek inside her/to see what she wears/at her centre”) are charged with sexual energy because they ring true: the human brain is most excited by complete knowledge of another person, a knowledge that includes the physical and carnal and visceral, but also the airy, rarified parts of a person that are seldom revealed, and seldom revealed willingly. Herbert’s furtive look into this woman – both voyeuristic and tender – is charged, too, because of its fleeting quality. He recognizes that the cost of intimacy is change. And isn’t that a large part of what makes sexual love, and other acts of intimacy, so compelling and so alluring – the inherent risk?  — Sarah Kain Gutowski

—-

Silk of a Soul

Never
did I speak – with her
either about love
or about death

only blind taste
and mute touch
used to run between us
when absorbed in ourselves
we lay close

I must
peek inside her
to see what she wears
at her centre

when she slept
with her lips open
I peeked

and what
and what
would you think
I caught sight of

I was expecting
branches
I was expecting
a bird
I was expecting
a house
by a lake great and silent

but there
on a glass counter
I caught sight of a pair
of silk stockings
my God
I’ll buy her those stockings
I’ll buy them

but – what will appear then
on the glass counter
of the little soul

will it be something
which cannot be touched
even with one finger of a dream

—-

Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker

I’m one of those girls who gets wet reading Kathy Acker. It isn’t something I think about; it just happens. Discovering her work gave me the freedom to say  words like ‘cunt’ (it rhymes fantastically with my last name) and mean it every way possible—with shame, anger, courage and abuse. I get hot because I’ve been there—humiliated—and experience freedom within her writing. This excerpt is from the novel, Blood and Guts in High School. I cannot think of it as anything but poetry.  — Susan Yount

—-

I didn’t want anyone to notice me ‘cause I was blind so I crawled under the splinters

of the bar. The music stopped. A lot of feet passed by. Some of them by accident kicked me.

One kicked me too hard.

“Do you want to fuck me, scumbag?” President Carter said to me.

“I can’t fuck.”

“You’ve got syphilis?”

“I’ve got cancer.”

“Gee.” He put his arms around me and kissed me.

I USED TO BE UNHAPPY

OH YES

I LIVED IN THE CORNER OF A ROOM

THEN YOU CAME ALONG AND FUCKED THE SHIT

OUT OF ME

I WON’T BE UNHAPPY AGAIN

SPRING IS A COCK THAT’S HARD

OH YES

I KNOW YOU’RE A SECRET TERRORIST

‘CAUSE LOVE LEADS TO DEATH

I WON’T EVER BE UNHAPPY AGAIN

THOUGH IT’S BEEN A WEEK SO YOUR LOVE’S

ALMOST OVER

THE WORLD’S ABOUT TO EXPLODE

TERRORISTS NEED NO MORE COVER

OH YES LOVE LEADS TO DEATH

OH YES

I couldn’t hear any of that political music shit I just wanted to kiss

the guy again and again. The music made it so you couldn’t hear the words

and the music itself was so loud music couldn’t be heard

you weren’t hearing

this is beyond hearing

you is just vibrations so there’s no difference between self and music.

—-

Gacela of Love Unforeseen by Federico Garcia Lorca

The erotic is deeply rooted in the body: to be erotic, the poem’s words must live in the physiological. This one of Lorca’s “Gacelas” is one of the only poems that makes me shudder every time I read it. One of the ways it gets to the body is the repetition of such a hopelessly large word as forever – you don’t know what it means but you know it is urgent. Then follow that with “Garden of my agony” and I am slain. The meter of the Spanish-language original gets so gorgeous here – one stressed syllable, two unstressed, like waltz. The poem ends in death; the erotic is also fundamentally dark and full of surrender. I read through many translations before deciding to do my own (with debts to the many versions I have read beforehand). – Niina Pollari
—-
Gacela del Amor Imprevisto

Nadie comprendía el perfume
de la oscura magnolia de tu vientre.
Nadie sabía que martirizabas
un colibrí de amor entre los dientes.

Mil caballitos persas se dormían
en la plaza con luna de tu frente,
mientras que yo enlazaba cuatro noches
tu cintura, enemiga de la nieve.

Entre yeso y jazmines, tu mirada
era un pálido ramo de simientes.
Yo busqué, para darte, por mi pecho
las letras de marfil que dicen siempre,

siempre, siempre: jardin de mi agonia,
tu cuerpo fugitivo para siempre,
la sangre de tus venas en mi boca,
tu boca ya sin luz para mi muerte.

—-

Gacela of Love Unforeseen

Nobody understood the perfume
of the dark magnolia of your belly.
Nobody knew how you martyred
the hummingbird of love between your teeth.

A thousand tiny Persian horses slept
in the plaza in the light of your forehead’s moon
while I for four nights laced myself
to your waist, the enemy of snow.

Between plaster and jasmine, your gaze
is a pale and seeding branch.
I searched through my chest to give to you
the ivory letters that say forever,

forever, forever: Garden of my agony,
your body fleeing from me forever,
the blood of your veins now in my mouth,
your mouth already lightless for my death.

—-

All my seasick sailors by Lynn Crosbie

For me, in-depth intensity is far more erotic than semi-casual flinging. In recent years, my desire for powerful intensity is borderline brimming with uncertainty and unknowing related to ebbing and flowing, but that doesn’t make it dissipate. I desire a new beginning, filled with a large scale, all kinds of strange tales and talismans, and strong sails. I crave a strange power to affix me, lift me up, and wet me into creatively drenched, passionate, powerful, deliciously visceral terrain.  — Juliet Cook

—-

all my seasick sailors

Sly and second-sighted, my friends have abandoned ship. Rats,
escaping in small grey
lifeboats, their annular tails turn the tide, their lambent eyes, like the
moon, dictate its flow.
The violinist plays Autumn as the masts unfold, water lilies in the
pitch of the sea.

A message in semaphore, what I have always longed to know — to stand
by the stern, and
with courage, let go. Nostalgia’s poison

love spreads out like a sheaf of photographs, memory without blood,
a fluked anchor,
undone. The line that breaks when the storm comes, the truth that
sailors know:
red skies without delight,

a bad sign. To navigate you must know where you are going, with an
exact chart,
pin-stuck with ellipses. Accidents, typhoon, the fibrous stakes of sea
monsters, the diamond ice caps,

miracles that have changed course, carved passages into the new
worlds, where sailors
arise. In white militia,

letters come like gulls flat on the crest of waves, infatuation coursing,
like a science of chaos,

they appear in envelopes of ice, intermittent ghosts — to remind me
that love is spectral,
unforeseen.

The rapids were turbulent toward the Asian corridor, sailing into
     Lachine. It is China, after all.
Rare and fragile, esteemed from a great distance,

protected in shelf-ice.

I touch this china from rim to stem, and feel its raised flowers,
brought to me from the ocean’s
floor.  In spite of the danger, the mariners have garlanded the stingray
—as the lashings narrowed,

they retrieved me from the wreck.

—-

The Wreck of the Deutschland by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Perhaps it seems surprising that Gerard Manley Hopkins is the author of the most erotic poem I can think of, but The Wreck of the Deutschland moves me beyond belief & never fails to provide. What I find erotic in poetry (& elsewhere) is possession, is a mix of restriction & danger & raw honesty & being known. & it is everywhere in this poem. That it involves God or shipwrecks has always seemed incidental to me—this poem, at its heart, is about the terror & glory of submission. — Lisa Ciccarello
—-

I did say yes
O at lightning and lashed rod;
Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
Thou knowest the walls, altar and hour and night:
The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod
Hard down with a horror of height:
And the midriff astrain with leaning of, laced with fire of stress.

—-

First Poem for You by Kim Addonizio

One of my favorite erotic poems is “First Poem for You,” by Kim Addonizio, from The Philosopher’s Club(BOA Editions, 1994).  It is a gorgeous, subtle sonnet that begins, “I like to touch your tattoos in complete / darkness, when I can’t see them.”  I love to read this poem, to imagine the tattoos in the dark, and to teach it to college students and watch their eyes and mouths open in awe!  A poem can do that?!  I admire how this poem explores the sensuality, vulnerability, fear, and complicatedness of love, and the excitement of the beginnings of love. I don’t have any tattoos, but our local butcher at the Jewel does, and she’s a tattoo artist on the side and plays volleyball with my husband.  One of these days, maybe Valentine’s Day, I will hand her a copy of this poem when I ask for a salmon fillet.  Hmm, maybe I will get a Beatles tattoo when I’m 64. — Kathleen Kirk

—-

First Poem for You

I like to touch your tattoos in complete
darkness, when I can’t see them. I’m sure of
where they are, know by heart the neat
lines of lightning pulsing just above
your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
twists, facing a dragon. When I pull you
to me, taking you until we’re spent
and quiet on the sheets, I love to kiss
the pictures in your skin. They’ll last until
you’re seared to ashes; whatever persists
or turns to pain between us, they will still
be there. Such permanence is terrifying.
So I touch them in the dark; but touch them, trying.
—-

Vanilla by Bill Luoma

A few years ago I picked up this anthology secondhand: An Anthology of New (American) Poets (Talisman House. Jarnot, Schwartz, Stroffolino, eds). It’s a strange and wonderful book- there are, like, eight hundred different styles represented, mostly by poets I hadn’t known about before but kept reading after I saw them here. Bill Luoma is one such poet, and his “Vanilla” has always been in the back of my head as a lighthearted and sly “erotic” poem: if you do any amount of confectionary baking (and I do), you know that the scent (and, eventually, the taste) of pure vanilla extract is borderline pornographic. …Also: “Verily  / your delicates flavor a teaspoonful in combination.” – My boyfriend has no idea what that means, but I promised him it’s totally sexy.  —Brooklyn Copeland

—-

Vanilla

The beautiful bird talk is certainly a form
of your tastebuds and fleshy lips. Verily
your delicates flavor a teaspoonful in combination.
The fan shape adds an extra boost. Coloring
also enters into it. At this point I am unfocused
by all the melting. Your ice cream face
and numerous aerial hairs make my heart
beat against the spikes of lucky stars.
This to me is pure vanilla extract.

—-

Body of a Woman by Yusef Komunyakaa

Talking Dirty to the Gods was my first foray into contemporary poetry when I came across it in a book store in high school, and yes, the man carrying a giant phallus on the cover drew me in at 15. The entire collection is full of alternately erotic and unsettling imagery, but Body of a Woman is a poem that, in addition to eroticism, has a beautiful wistfulness that has brought me back to the poem over and over. It could also be said that Yusef Komunyakaa himself is my long-standing poetry crush. I’ve been reading his work for the past 12 years, and have managed to attend readings he’s done in 4 separate cities. I’m hoping to make it 5 at the AWP in Chicago this year. So maybe “poetry stalkee” is more accurate? Hopefully he doesn’t Google himself too often…  —Margaret Bashaar

—-

Body of a Woman

Here you are, still
Reposed behind glass
Like a work of art. Yes,
Body of precious aloneness,

There are times I desire you
In a lover’s arms. Sometimes
I want you making fierce love,
With moans like thought bubbles

Of pleasure forever in Pompeii’s
Lava & ash. Yet, other nights,
As Miles Davis plays ballads
In the background, like tonight,

There’s only irony: I see
You’re gazing out toward
The House of the Faun,
Waiting for someone.

—-

i’ll tell you a dream i had once by e. e. cummings

e.e. cummings is famous for his once-daring formats and syntax, but his themes were traditional, and much of his poetry is love poetry. He wrote scads of amorous poems, often exalted, sometimes sexy.

Poking around for a poem for this piece, I discovered Norton has put out a volume of cummings poems called ‘Erotic Poems.’ It made me want to shout – one, because it’s a marketing ploy for Valentine’s Day, and two, because many of his non-sexual poems have something dotingly erotic about them, because cummings seemed to experience everything sensually – the rain, the ocean, trees, light, anything beautiful he set eyes on.

Some of his erotic poems don’t start out erotic at all – the poet simply ends up in the territory. It happens in the poem “let’s live suddenly without thinking,” for example, and it happens in the following poem, “i’ll tell you a dream i had once,” too. In the first line, it seems the poem could go anywhere, but it ends up with a pair of lovers (truly) becoming one. As erotica goes it may be on the tame side, but I love it for its naked, playful embrace. — Sarah Sloat

—-

i’ll tell you a dream i had once…

i’ll tell you a dream i had once i was away up in the sky Blue,everything:

a bar the bar was made of brass hangIng from strings (or)someThing i was

lying on the bar it was cOOl i didn’t have anything on and I was all hot all

Hot and bar was

COOl

O My lover,

there’s just room for me in You

my stomach goes into your Little Stomach My legs are in your legs Your

arms

under me around; my head fits(my head)in your Brain-my,head’s

big

she(said laughing

)with your head.all big

—-

It by Sharon Olds

When asked to choose an erotic poem for Poetry Crush, I selected “It,” by Sharon Olds, which appears in her collection The Gold Cell. It is easy to do erotic poetry in a way that is easy, but it is hard to do erotic poetry the way Olds does. She fully inhabits each of her erotic poems. She does not hold back. She writes erotic work that is as tender, and as dirty, as it gets. She often overlaps the tender and dirty in one poem, as well as taking the reader places they don’t expect to go. — Dana Guthrie Martin
—-

It

Sometimes we fit together like the creamy
speckled three-section body of the banana, that
joke fruit, as sex was a joke when we were kids,
and sometimes it is like a jagged blue comb of glass across
my skin,
and sometimes you have me bent over as thick paper can be
folded, on the rug in the center of the room
far from the soft bed, my knuckles pressed against the grit in the grain of the rug’s
braiding where they
laid the rags tight and sewed them together,
my ass in the air like a lily with a wound on it
and I feel you going down into me as
if my own tongue is your cock sticking
out of my mouth like a stamen, the making and
breaking of the world at the same moment,
and sometimes it is sweet as the children we had
thought were dead being brought to shore in the
narrow boats, boatload after boatload.
Always I am stunned to remember it,
as if I have been to Saturn or the bottom of a trench in the
sea floor, I
sit on my bed the next day with my mouth open and think of it.

—-

The Hummingbird:  A Seduction by Pattiann Rogers

Pattiann Rogers masters the art of the single-sentence poem in this gorgeous, sensual ode. Her longing tone makes the imagery crackle even more, in the way we are often more vivid in our expression of wants, in our aching overtures of what I would do if I could. . . . than when our desires are gratified.  – Lauren Eggert-Crowe

—-

If I were a female hummingbird perched still
And quiet on an upper myrtle branch
In the spring afternoon and if you were a male
Alone in the whole heavens before me, having parted
Yourself, for me, from cedar top and honeysuckle stem
And earth down, your body hovering in midair
Far away from jewelweed, thistle, and bee balm;

And if I watched how you fell, plummeting before me,
And how you rose again and fell, with such mastery
That I believed for a moment you were the sky
And the red-marked bird diving inside your circumference
Was just the physical revelation of the light’s
Most perfect desire;

And if I saw your sweeping and sucking
Performance of swirling egg and semen in the air,
The weaving, twisting vision of red petal
And nectar and soaring rump, the rush of your wing
In its grand confusion of arcing and splitting
Created completely out of nothing just for me,

Then when you came down to me, I would call you
My own spinning bloom of ruby sage, my funnelling
Storm of sunlit sperm and pollen, my only breathless
Piece of scarlet sky, and I would bless the base
Of each of your feathers and touch the tine
Of string muscles binding your wings and taste
The odor of your glistening oils and hunt
The honey in your crimson flare
And I would take you and take you and take you
Deep into any kind of nest you ever wanted.

—-

Poet to Tiger by May Swenson

May Swenson melts me with craft and a deep commitment to play.– J. Hope Stein

—-

Poet to Tiger

THE HAIR
You went downstairs
saw a hair in the sink
and squeezed my toothpaste by the neck.
You roared. My ribs are sore.
This morning even my pencil’s got your toothmarks.
Big Cat Eye cocked on me you see bird bones.
Snuggled in the rug of your belly
your breath so warm
I smell delicious fur.
Come breathe on me rough pard
put soft paws here.

THE SALT
You don’t put salt on anything
so I’m eating without.
Honey on the eggs is all right
mustard on the toast.
I’m not complaining I”m saying I’m
living with you.
You like your meat raw
don’t care if it’s cold.
Your stomach must have tastebuds
you swallow so fast.
Night falls early. It’s foggy. Just now
I found another of your bite marks in the cheese.
I’m hungry. Please
come bounding home
I’ll hand you the wine to open
with your teeth.
Scorched me a steak unsalted
boil my coffee twice
say the blessing to a jingle on the blue TV.
Under the lap robe on our chilly couch
look behind my ears “for welps”
and hug me.

THE SAND
You’re right I brought a grain
or two of sand
into bed I guess in my socks.
But it was you pushed them off
along with everything else.
Asleep you flip
over roll
everything under
you and off
me. I’m always grabbing
for my share of the sheets.
Or else you wake me every hour with sudden
growled I-love-yous
trapping my face between those plushy
shoulders. All my float-dreams turn spins
and never finish. I’m thinner
now. My watch keeps running fast.
But best is when we’re riding pillion
my hips within your lap. You let me steer.
Your hand and arm go clear
around my ribs your moist
dream teeth fastened on my nape.
A grain of sand in the bed upsets you or
a hair on the floor.
But you’ll get
in slick and wet from the shower if I let
you. Or with your wool cap
and skiing jacket on
if it’s cold.
Tiger don’t scold me
don’t make me comb my hair outdoors.
Cuff me careful. Lick don’t
crunch. Make last what’s yours.

THE DREAM
You get into the tub holding The Naked Ape
in your teeth. You wet the blond
three-cornered pelt lie back wide
chest afloat. You’re reading
in the rising steam and I’m
drinking coffee from your tiger cup.
You say you dreamed
I had your baby book
and it was pink and blue.
I pointed to a page and there
was your face with a cub grin.

You put your paws in your armpits
make a tiger-moo.
Then you say: “Come here
Poet and take
this hair
off me.” I do.
It’s one of mine. I carefully
kill it and carry
it outside. And stamp on it
and bury it.

In the begonia bed.
And then take off my shoes
anot to bring a grain
of sand in to get
into our bed.
I’m going to
do the cooking
now instead
of you.
And sneak some salt in
when you’re not looking.