One Woman Turns Her Lips Away

This time, she will not go away so simply.
She, this woman, into whose mouth, whose breathings,
He can see: he closes his eyes: she gives him
Tourniquet kisses,
Saving things, her absolute lips the moment
Holding tightly: everything here is hardened.
And he needs them.  Loosening means a dying
Suddenly.  Laughter
Too this way is furious, holding something
By its edge, like groping a carp still living
By its stomach, loving to see it struggle,
Wildishly flipping.
He has held the legs of his women carp-like,
Watched them turn so easily on the fingers,
At his hand and mouth, at his legs: at this minute
Each of his fingers
Knows a different woman, knowing the tinge
Incense gives to rooms, a perfume that travel
Gives to things.  But she at his laughter laughs louder.
Quick the exotic
Carp, she turns her animal lips all sticky,
Strong like fingers, stronger than his, not letting
Go: she smells him watching her tight skin, hears him
Curiously flipping.
One man cannot have her, no husband craving
Her, his wife: for each of his fingers she is giving
Gifts of softer skin to the men she's wanted,
All of them handsome.

The Lime Orchard Woman (New York: Sheep           Meadow, 1988).  Originally in Blue Buildings.

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Prayers to the Dangerous

Pretty girls go walking away to prayers.
What they pray for, C-shaped, is not so different:
homemade waffles, omelettes all filled with mushrooms.
But in the omelettes
one girl thinks of fire: in his hands, and eyelids
as they drooped, that halfway excruciation
coming from a moment without a name yet,
pressing and pressing.

Boy.  You never told me about the burning
fires you'd leave inside, how an inside's burning
makes a blackness there, and the black is empty,
charred like a night's sky,
sky the sun has burnt and then left, with embers
there instead of stars, like the Elks club picnic
finished, charcoal stars as the only warm things
drunk men can talk to.
Danger boy, you could have remembered my skin.
I remember you, how I swallowed tender
words you had inside, on your tongue, all water.
Hands, how they touched me. . .

C-shaped on her pew, in that lean of children praying,
one girl only dreams of the ripest berries,
undersides of mushrooms, that color, pepper.
These are her prayers:
how, as food, she wishes for him, his touching.
That his fire leaves a black in her mouth, her eyes, her
fisted hands, means a place for his returning.
These are her prayers.

Five Indiscretions (Sheep Meadow: New York,

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