Thursday, December 9, 2021

Perverse Pleasure

"Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair"
by Reginald Shepherd

In the painting by Guido Reni of Saint Sebastian
in the Palazzo Rosso, which reproduction makes available
to those who travel only on the page, the saint to be 
(he's not yet assumed by artifice, encumbered

with perfections) endures continual martyrdom 
with a visual sigh, gazing almost directly upward 
as if to ask What now my love, or hum a chorus of
Is that all there is, the body always some song

or another. The eye tramping the simulacrum 
of a surface hands have touched can't help but note
how lush the uncorrupted flesh appears: the curve, for one 
example, of the waist (narrowest circuit of the boy),

just beneath the instance of an arrow's entrance, or
the shadow just above the tangled loincloth that is surely
pubic hair. One grasps that sainthood is an attribute of youth,
the wondrous fair, as in old ballads; they always end.

The boy in the Eagle Discount Supermarket, 
for another, an apparition in a backwards baseball cap 
appraising cuts of meat in artificial light, 
deciding what he can afford

to buy, how much each cut costs. I love the ground
on where be stands. His face? Unverifiable.

Image from the Internet

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Perverse Pleasure

Bunny Slope
by Tadeusz Dąbrowski

When I'm writing a poem,
there's less and less of it.

As I approach the mountains,
they vanish behind a gentle hill,
behind the bunny slope.

And once I'm standing with them
face to face,
they take away my speech.

The very best poem 
finishes half way

Image from the Internet

Friday, December 3, 2021

Perverse Pleasure

On Being Coy
by Kimiko Hahn
Issue no. 186 (Fall 2008)

Many fish in those murky ocean caves
of Mexico, Brazil, Croatia, Oman

have no eyes.
Though in the streams outside—

clear as a frat bar in '75—

other males zip around and nip the females

to test chemical signals
and harass

with so much sex

that the females often cease to exist.
Better off

with a slower, blind suitor

I say—then think of Marvell's "rough strife"—
which I adore.

See—a little coyness can work
to cloud the current.

Those black lizard boots instead of mules—
that Manhattan tourist spot.

He's twenty-five. I'm forty.  
He demands one thing—well, two: my feet.

See what I mean?
Little has changed in the carpe diem—
or the simmering transparent stream.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Perverse Pleasure

Domestic Life — Gregory Orr

from: The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems

         1. TODAY 
Open yourself up: today 
that's no different than opening 
a refrigerator door: large chunks 
of meat, eggs 
scattered on the metal racks, 
and cowering in the back: 
a tiny, frightened woman. 
You are huge and clumsy; 
you fumble for her, breaking 
all the eggs, and she eludes you, 
and you don't feel a thing 
except cold inside.

         2. SOMETHING 
Something is burning inside you 
like a rose made from cellophane, 
like something white burning 
in a snowfield: no flames, 
all you can see is the shadow 
of smoke on the snow.

         3. BEFORE DAWN 
Your wife left before you woke. 
She scratched a note on your back; 
you try to read it with mirrors. 
You decide to talk to the cat, 
but when you open your mouth 
honey-colored wasps fly out.

The blood in the lightbulbs 
burns less brightly.

         4. THE WATERFALL 
Failing to hold on to things, 
a man can become 
a waterfall. 
His friends stare, 
silent and aghast, 
as he disappears 
over the cliff, carrying 
off his books, his wife, 
all his furniture.

         5. FALL CLEANING 
This morning, the almost weightless bodies 
of insects drift down 
from the ceiling. It's seasonal; 
you have to expect that sort of thing 
when you live in a burrow under the earth. 
Yesterday a package arrived 
in the mail; it contained bird beaks 
in assorted colors and sizes. 
Some are small like yellow thorns, 
but others are larger; 
I slip those over my fingers, 
clack them together and dance 
around the room in my gray bathrobe. 
The insects revive. I am their god. 
They dance after me up the tunnel 
and out into the autumn woods.

Perverse Pleasure

From Life
by Shane McCrae

I came from life from living I arrived

Nowhere     in the midst of God     in the midst of God

God is a city      in which no one has ever lived

We live      in houses like the houses we once had

Some in their first      some in their last

I live in the house I lived in with my wife

The first year we were married     a small white

House at the edge of campus it's as if

We never graduated     never left

Except she isn't here     and none of our

Friends but the friends who died so long ago

They aren't our friends anymore

I do what old friends do

And love them anyway    we eat together at the Waf-

fle House on Saturdays and wait all week to die

How many weeks now I don't know

Except it can't be more than three

Thousand I guess about three thousand    sixty years or so

Or how long do young people live

Seems like it's longer every day    three thousand or

She would be here with me I have

Thought hard about it and I'm sure

But sometimes     I feel like I've thought about

Her life for longer than she could have lived it

And mean to ask an angel      why we can see

Everything but Earth     from Heaven

But I don't ask     I don't think I could stand to not

Be answered     but I don't think I could stand the answer

Perverse Pleasure

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