Over Wine

January 13, 2019

He glanced, gave me extra charm
and I took it as my own.
Happily I gulped a star.

I let myself be invented,
modelled on my own reflection
in his eyes. I dance, dance, dance
in the stir of sudden wings.

The chair’s a chair, the wine is wine,
in a wineglass that’s the wineglass
standing there by standing there.
Only I’m imaginary,
make-believe beyond belief,
so fictitious that it hurts.

And I tell him tales about
ants that die of love beneath
a dandelion’s constellation.
I swear a white rose will sing
if you sprinkle it with wine.

I laugh and I tilt my head
cautiously, as if to check
whether the invention works.
I dance, dance inside my stunned
skin, in his arms that create me.

Eve from the rib, Venus from foam,
Minerva from Jupiter’s head –
all three were more real than me.

When he isn’t looking at me,
I try to catch my reflection
on the wall. And I see the nail
where a picture used to be.

Wisława Szymborska

No new ideas

January 13, 2019

Poet

January 13, 2019

I think of the poet in the twenty-first century as a woman standing in a dark doorway.

She is a homemaker, but an odd one.

She hovers in a dark doorway. She needs to be there at the threshold to find a balance, to maintain a home at the edge of the world.

She puts out both her hands. They will help her hold on, help her find her way.

She has to invent a language marked by many tongues.

As for the script in which she writes, it binds her into visibility, fronting public space, marking danger, marking desire.

Behind her in the darkness of her home and through her pour languages no one she knows will ever read or write.

They etch a corps perdu.* Subtle, vital, un-sizable body.
Source of all translations.

Meena Alexander
What use is poetry

This wood is, of course, nowhere near Athens; the script is a positive maze of false leads. The wood is really located somewhere in the English midlands, possibly near Bletchley, where the great decoding machine was sited. Correction: this wood was located in the English midlands until oak, ash and thorn were chopped down to make room for a motorway a few years ago. However, since the wood existed only as a structure of the imagination, in the first place, it will remain, in the second place, as a green, decorative margin to the eternity the poet promised for himself. The English poet; his is, essentially, an English wood. It is the English wood.

The English wood is nothing like the dark, necromantic forest in which the Northern European imagination begins and ends, where its dead and the witches live, and Baba-yaga stalks about in her house with chicken’s feet looking for children in order to eat them. No. There is a qualitative, not a quantitative, difference between this wood and that forest.

The difference does not exist just because a wood contains fewer trees than a forest and covers less ground. That is just one of the causes of the difference and does not explain the effects of the difference.

For example, an English wood, however marvellous, however metamorphic, cannot, by definition, be trackless, although it might well be formidably labyrinthine. Yet there is always a way out of a maze, and, even if you cannot find it for a while, you know that it is there. A maze is a construct of the human mind, and not unlike it; lost in the wood, this analogy will always console. But to be lost in the forest is to be lost to this world, to be abandoned by the light, to lose yourself utterly with no guarantee you will either find yourself or else be found, to be committed against your will – or, worse, of your own desire – to a perpetual absence; from humanity, an existential catastrophe, for the forest is as infinitely boundless as the human heart.

But the wood is finite, a closure; you purposely mislay your way in the wood, for the sake of the pleasure of roving, the temporary confusion of direction is in the nature of a holiday from which you will come home refreshed, with your pockets full of nuts, your hands full of wildflowers and the cast feather of a bird in your cap. That forest is haunted; this wood is enchanted.[…]

The English wood offers us a glimpse of a green, unfallen world a little closer to Paradise than we are.

Such is the English wood in which we see the familiar fairies, the blundering fiancés, the rude mechanicals. This is the true Shakespearian wood – but it is not the wood of Shakespeare’s time, which did not know itself to be Shakespearian, and therefore felt no need to keep up appearances. No. The wood we have just described is that of nineteenth-century nostalgia, which disinfected the wood, cleansing it of the grave, hideous and elemental beings with which the superstition of an earlier age had filled it. Or, rather, denaturing, castrating these beings until they came to look just as they do in those photographs of fairy folk that so enraptured Conan Doyle. It is Mendelssohn’s wood.

“Enter these enchanted woods…” who could resist such a magical invitation?

However, as it turns out, the Victorians did not leave the woods in quite the state they might have wished to find them.

Angela Carter
Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The poet warns us from his prison of appearances – trees and thoughts, stones and emotions, days and nights and twilights are all simply metaphors, mere coloured ribbons – that the breath which informs matter, shaping it and giving it form, is the same breath that corrodes and withers and defeats it. It is a drama without personae, since all are merely reflections, the various disguises of a suicide who talks to himself in a language of mirrors and echoes, and the mind also is nothing more than a reflection of death, of death in love with itself.

Octavio Paz
Labyrinth of Solitude

The Sanskrit word for the male sexual organ is Lingam and is loosely translated as “Wand of Light.” In Tantra or Sacred Sexuality, the Lingam is respectfully viewed and honored, as a “Wand of Light” that channels creative energy and pleasure.

Orgasm is not the goal of the Lingam massage although it can be a pleasant and welcome side effect. The goal is to massage the Lingam, also including testicles, perineum and Sacred Spot (prostate) externally, allowing the man to surrender to a form of pleasure he may not be accustomed to. From this perspective both receiver and giver relax into the massage.

Men need to learn to relax and receive. Traditional sexual conditioning has the man in a doing and goal oriented mode. The Lingam Massage allows the man to experience his softer, more receptive side and experience pleasure from a non-traditional perspective.

Beginning the Massage

Have the receiver lie on his back with pillows under his head so he can look up at his partner (giver). Place a pillow, covered with a towel, under his hips. His legs are to be spread apart with the knees slightly bent (pillows or cushions under the knees will also help) and his genitals clearly exposed for the massage. Before contacting the body, begin with deep, relaxed breathing. Gently massage the legs, abdomen, thighs, chest, nipples, etc., to get the receiver to relax. Remind the receiver to breathe deeply and to sink deeper into relaxation.

Pour a small quantity of oil on the shaft of the Lingam and testicles. Begin gently massaging the testicles, taking care to not cause pain in this sensitive area. Massage the scrotum gently, causing it to relax. Massage the area above the Lingam, on the pubic bone. Massage the perineum, the area between the testicles and anus. Take time when massaging the shaft of the Lingam. Vary the speed and pressure. Gently squeeze the Lingam at the base with your right hand, pull up and slide off, then alternate with your left hand. Take your time doing this, right, left, right, left, etc. Then, change the direction by starting the squeeze at the head of the Lingam and then sliding down and off. Again, alternate with right and left hands.

Massage the head of the Lingam as if you are using an orange juicer. Massage all around the head and shaft. In Tantra there are many nerve endings on the Lingam that correspond to other parts of the body. It is believed that many ailments may be cured by a good Lingam massage. The Lingam may or may not go soft as you perform this technique. Do not worry if it doesn’t get hard again. You will probably find that it will get hard, then go soft, get hard again, etc., which is a highly desirable Tantric experience, like riding a wave, bobbing up and down. Hardness and softness are two ends of the pleasure spectrum.

If it appears that the receiver is going to ejaculate, back off, allowing the Lingam to soften a little before resuming the massage. Do this several times, coming close to ejaculation, and then backing off. It is important to remember that the goal is not orgasm in and of itself. Men can learn the art of ejaculatory mastery and control by coming close to ejaculation and then backing off on the stimulation. Deep breathing is key here and will soften the urge to ejaculate. Eventually ejaculatory mastery will allow you to make love as long as you want and you can become multi-orgasmic without losing a drop of semen. Orgasm and ejaculation are two different responses that you can learn to separate. The result is a very expanded sex life.

The Sacred Spot

Find and massage the male Sacred Spot. There is a small indentation about the size of a pea or maybe larger midway between the testicles and anus. Be gentle and push inward. He will feel the pressure deep inside and it may be uncomfortable at first. Eventually, as this area is worked on and softened, he will be able to expand his orgasms and master ejaculatory control. You can massage his Lingam with your right hand and massage his Sacred Spot with your left hand.

Try pushing in on this spot when he nears ejaculation. The man may have strong emotions come up during access to the Sacred Spot. Be the best friend and healer he could have in that moment. You, the giver, are creating a place of trust and intimacy.

Ending the Massage

When he feels complete (with the massage), gently remove your hands cover him and keep him warm. Most importantly, allow him to rest quietly for at least five to ten minutes.

White Lotus East

The crescendo of shocks which awaited me [on leaving convent life] began abruptly with my first introduction to up-to-date underwear.

Frankly, I was appalled.

The garments to which I was accustomed had been contrived by thoroughgoing ascetics in the fourteenth century, who considered that a nice, thick, long-sleeved ‘shift’ of rough, scratchy serge was the right thing to wear next to your skin. My shifts, when new, had reached almost to my ankles. However, hard washing and much indiscriminate patching soon stiffened and shrank them until they all but stood up by themselves. Stays, shoulder-strapped and severely boned, concealed one’s outline; over them, two long serge petticoats were lashed securely round one’s waist. Last came the ample habit-coat of heavy cloth, topped by a linen rochet and a stiffly starched barbette of cambric, folded into a score of tiny tucks and pleats at the neck.

So, when my sister handed me a wisp of gossamer, about the size and substance of a spider’s web, I was startled.

She said, ‘Here’s your foundation garment. Actually, most people only wear pants and a brassiere, but it’s cold to-day so I thought we’d better start you with a vest.’

I examined the object, remembering 1914. In those days, a ‘nice’ girl ‘started’ with long, woolly combinations, neckhigh and elbow-sleeved, decorated with a row of neat pearl buttons down the front…
Next came the modern version of the corset. It was the merest strip of elastic brocade from which suspenders, in a surprising number, dangled. I thought it a great improvement on the fourteenthcentury idea. The only drawback was that you had to insert your person into it serpent-fashion, as it had no fastenings.

What bothered me most were the stockings. The kind I was used to were enormous things, far thicker than those men wear for tramping

the moors and shrunk by repeated boiling to the shape and consistency of a Wellington boot. The pair with which Freda had provided me were of silk, skin-coloured and so transparent that I wondered why anyone bothered to wear the things at all.

I said firmly, ‘Freda, I can’t possibly go out in these. They make my legs look naked.’

She smiled patiently.

‘Nonsense,’ she said. ‘Everyone wears them. If you went about in anything else you’d collect a crowd.’

Monica Baldwin
I leap over the wall: Contrasts and Impressions After Twenty-eight years in a Convent