Friday, July 10, 2015

Poetry Jam #20

Good Lord, there's twenty of them now.  And what do I have to show for it?

Well, I have a body of poems, some of which I can be really proud of on a technical level, and all of which form a sort of emotional autobiography for me.  The story of my adult life is in my poems, and if they're not quite good enough to light the world on fire (or if I'm just too timid to promote them), then at least they'll always be mine.

This entry contains some of my most brazenly erotic poems, which were written while I tried to come to terms with the end of my relationship.   I've exercised some editorial discretion in including which of the many heart-sick yearnings I've included here, as not everything I scribbled down when I was feeling desperately lonely was either aesthetically sound or in good taste.  But there is definitely lust, double entendre, and other erotic trappings aplenty. 

The poems in this post all date from January to March of 2015.  I'm rather fond of them, even though the subject matter tends to make my heart hurt.  But that's just how it goes.  As usual, I will comment them to death at the end.

False Choice

Will you be my Cinderella,
wear these shoes I’ve made for her?
Crystal glass, so I can see you
head to toe as I prefer,
stunning heels to keep you standing
in the spot I'd have you stay –
and sparkling shards to slice your toes off
should you try to slip away.

No more sitting in a pumpkin
coach in hiding from your peers,
and certainly no midnight rushing
out, to waste advancing years
by serving thankless relatives, your
feet in filthy rags and thongs.
Try the slipper, Cinderella,
see if I have pegged you wrong.

Dorothy's Text

A telegraph, they used to call this page;
why use a single syllable when three
evoke the present era's empty rage?
An instant text by Western Union, free
of inconvenient waiting, less of pain -
a last resort, perhaps a feeble choice
to make, a refuge from this awful strain
when I can't bear to look you in the voice.
But how to tell you anything of worth,
when seeing you across the telephone
would strike me dead and stick me in the Earth,
where I would bear this open wound alone?
I owe this much, to you I give my vow:
I cannot speak, but you must hear me now.

Memories of Touch

Now my heart is beating on your breasts,
and I can feel it shaking them, the way
they shudder softly, and my heart requests
another vision of your lingerie
(the skin it shows and what it can’t conceal),
another taste of spirits on my tongue
(with all the trouble spirits may reveal).
There is no secret whence my joy is sprung:
we came together, and I’ll never leave
to chase another, never leave your bed
if you would give me such a sweet reprieve
from life, from quiet death, from lonely dread.
The touch of you rejuvenates my heart
with loyal beats, so steady from the start.

one two three four

One is getting started right,
beginning with a gentle glow
that spreads like warm desire through
the vessels of a sacred bough.

Two is how I missed you so:
at stunning speeds we flew
together, as we were endowed
with passions fierce and light.

Three is a surprise for you,
a marathon for me: allow
your breath to catch, I think we might
have unexpected miles to go.

Four is setting records now,
and I cannot explain tonight’s
explosive love, but it may flow
like holy water, blessed dew.

Wedding Guests

If you'd wear green again,
I know I'd smile.
Green on you is like a furnace,
nothing could resist your sex appeal
when you are wearing green,
and nothing green could burn
like I could burn
when you are wearing green.

Even naked
and locked together in the water,
my shoulders sting in the summer sun,
and the sky is blue, the sun is white
and you'll be wearing green tomorrow,
I can see it.
I have seen it,
I can see you, inches
from my face, against the wall
and weightless,

I can see you wearing green
without an effort,
an enveloping light.
I can see you wear it
like it's nothing,
feel the water boil with the fire
when you're wearing green again,
feel the warmth
inside you, in the swimming pool:
I swim in this embrace.

A Chronicle of the Origins of the Great Quake

With a decade,
I could chronicle an hour
of this joy,
the sweet association
of our bodies
and our quaking hearts.

Would anybody read this book?
And could it shake them from their seats
with every wave
that rippled through the city?

Just a page,
a fraction of a second -
I swear if I have done my job,
the shock will move them all to tears.

I swear to you,
I swear I'll make them weep
like I have wept,
in memory of what
had stood before the fault line slipped,
a love that sank beneath the sand dunes.

You Were So Good to Me

It glowed like an aurora,
and you wore it well.
You walked, and you would shimmer:
every footstep fell
so slyly, like a secret
you would burst to tell.

And when you told!  I tumbled
off the balcony,
I flailed, but you wouldn't
let me fall.  To be
so blessed is like an endless
kiss of agony.

My Star, My Sky

Perhaps it's just the sky -
I got too used to seeing it in black,
and black became a comfort to me.
Even with the stars
to dress the night in ancient dignity,
the night would overpower all
displays of glinting beauty.
It came to me when I was out today:
how could I forget the sky
was such a vital blue?
It almost stings, the way this daylight rain
is sprinkled dryly in my eyes.
The sun may burn my face
the way the stars may heat their distant worlds -
my hair could simply burst in flames
beneath the parting clouds,
and I will always love the constellations,
but I remember life again.
Perhaps it's just the sky,
but I remember pain and joy together
paint the colors of the dawn.

I Know It When I See It

If every time were like tonight,
the two of us so damned attracted
we'd be crashing through the dark,
[the present line has been redacted].

Breathing in your scented hair,
the gliding motion reenacted
with the rhythm in our hips
[the present line has been redacted].

We'd need to get the details right,
so careful not to be distracted
by the way my fingers tease
[the present line has been redacted].

When you're purring, so content
your vicious claws have been retracted,
I will put you on your toes
with sweet surprises in [redacted].

Panic at the Grocery Store

I would know those shoulders anywhere,
they have a certain shape and color;
but maybe this is better,
if you never turn your head around.

You go about your shopping, casual,
and glance to check your list for purchase,
while I make the decision
not to call attention to my face.

Maybe, in a better circumstance,
I might have raised my voice to call you,
to capture your attention
for three minutes of awkward catching up.

Another wasted opportunity
I reckon, either way it goes:
if I come across too friendly,
or miss any chance to make my point.

Anyway, I had to chicken out,
for you were coming, I was going;
but maybe, if I'd turned
a second sooner, I wouldn't have regrets.

Tea Fancy

I will not assume a smile means
you want my number, or you long to feel
my hands around your waist, or that your jeans
were picked with me in mind, my heart to steal -
I know you're on the clock, you'd like to go,
and in the end I'm only passing through
your tea shop for a moment.  If I may throw
this out, I'm glad to share this smile with you:
it isn't every day you'll find such pleasure
from a glow across a radiant face
at perfect points, and I like the way you measure
tea with such affection, natural grace.
On days like these it isn't hard to slip,
so I believe you've earned an extra tip.


We’ve wasted all this wheat,
                and now one of us is burdened
with a sterile list of stanzas
                as stiff as an old loaf.
And right now, I would rather
                be writing fresh croissants,
or perhaps another helping
                of high-end cakes,
than try so hard to turn
                this tasteless mound of dough
into something more savory,
                soft enough for reading.
You’ve left me here with less
                to lead with than before,
barely enough to bring
                a baker to his feet,
and melancholy should make
                 for more than a broken
cradle of crumbs
                across the oven.
But sweets are for the satisfied,
                and sweethearts keep them:
frankly, if I had found
                a favored recipe
I think I would have thrown it out,
                thankless and unpublished.

Shark Eyes

"Shark Eyes,"
you used to call me that
when I was hungry,
and yes, I took it well.

Brown eyes
rimmed around the black:
I never noticed,
I was too distracted by

your eyes
(and all the rest of you),
warm and wet
like the world ocean's curve.

"Shark Eyes"
sounded predatory -
but depredation
wasn't my intention.

Brown eyes
reflected in my own
arouse a sweet,
primeval appetite, my

"Shark Eyes"
slicing through the water,
always circling,
desperate not to drown.


She was Goddess,
and no one could agree
how big around her thighs were,
how wide apart her teeth
or visible her stretch marks,
whether she'd had work done
or whether she could shave her upper lip
if she wanted,
or even if in all
the generations
anyone had ever
even seen her
with their waking eyes -
but everyone agreed
that she was perfect.


If I could sing, I wouldn't stop
for anybody -

at least as long as I was singing,
I could breathe.

To hit the notes I need, I wouldn't
have a choice -

my chest would have to open wide
enough to hold

that precious air between my lungs,
enrich my blood.

I wouldn't mind the burning throat
or sleepless nights,

if I were sure I wouldn't choke
from lack of effort,

staring at the ceiling, counting
silent steps.

All that drama about my loneliness aside, False Choice actually has nothing to do with my situation.  It came about from a feminist article I was reading on Tumblr, though I can't say I remember exactly what it was about.  It's very much about the patriarchy, and the twisted deal it offers women for a place in society.  The "prince" of the poem is, naturally, an enormous creep.

Dorothy's Text is more about my feelings, but it was also inspired heavily by something I saw on Tumblr: an old telegram from the forties.  The language in that telegram was very affecting to me.  It's a sonnet, a form I went to surprisingly often at this time.

Memories of Touch, one two three four, and Wedding Guests are all sexual poems, and these ones specifically commemorate specific erotic memories from my relationship.  At the time I felt it was important to hold onto those moments by writing them down.  Memories is another sonnet, and perhaps they all should have been, given their nature.  But on the other hand, I think their actual forms are suitable, Wedding Guests being one of my favorite free-verse attempts.  There's no need to describe the memories they stand for in full, I think they speak for themselves.

A Chronicle of the Origins of the Great Quake is about loss and defiance in the face of despair.  It was originally a "catalog" instead, but "chronicle" is a much better sounding word for this sort of thing.

You Were So Good to Me is another favorite, with some kind of weird rhyme thing going on.  I suppose it's also erotic, in its way, though it's not about sex but rather beauty.  I really like the visual element of this one.

I wrote My Star, My Sky in a moment of clarity, sort of.  I was trying to deal with my burgeoning depression in my own way, put an optimistic spin on things.  Believe me, "putting an optimistic spin on things" is not a cure for depression.  But in its own way, it helps.

Working in a law office, I saw a lot of redaction.  And since I was still preoccupied with sex, it was probably inevitable that I'd write something as silly as I Know It When I See It.  This one is not based on any particular memory of mine, just generic sexy actions with an implied naughty part concealed by obnoxious censorship.  I don't know why, but I get a kick out of the fact that the stanzas only rhyme because of the "censorship".  I am easily amused.

I visited Eugene at the end of February, mainly to see my friends and celebrate my birthday.  The next two poems came out of that trip.  Panic at the Grocery Store was written in response to a sighting of one of my ex's friends.  Going up to her and saying hello seemed like a bad idea, so I decided to leave instead.  Tea Fancy was written sort of as a response to a friend of mine, who was teasing me after I happened to mention seeing a cute girl behind the counter at a tea shop.  It's another sonnet in a kind of conversational tone, and it turned out cuter than I expected.

A Pâtissier makes pastries, you see.  And pastries, they are a metaphor  This poem is in alliterative meter, as I am occasionally tempted to try, and I think this one works out well.  Maybe the whole thing is a little misbegotten, though.

My ex used to call me Shark Eyes when I used to look at her in that certain way.  I always got a thrill out of that, and I wanted to write something pretty about the phrase.  I think this is kind of pretty.

Eidolon is a body-positivity poem, basically.  Not really related to my situation: I think I just read something about the shaming women go through regarding their bodies, and I wanted to write something nice for them.  Apparently, I wrote this one and Shark Eyes on the same day.

Lastly, Gasp is related to an idea from a poem in my last poetry post, Iron.  In form it's a little interesting, but not particularly so.  Still, I find this to be among the most heartbreaking in this whole set.  There were times when I really had to force myself to breathe.

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