Want

September 17, 2019

She wants a house full of cups and the ghosts
of last century’s lesbians; I want a spotless
apartment, a fast computer. She wants a woodstove,
three cords of ash, an axe; I want
a clean gas flame. She wants a row of jars:
oats, coriander, thick green oil;
I want nothing to store. She wants pomanders,
linens, baby quilts, scrapbooks. She wants Wellesley
reunions. I want gleaming floorboards, the river’s
reflection. She wants shrimp and sweat and salt;
she wants chocolate. I want a raku bowl,
steam rising from rice. She wants goats,
chickens, children. Feeding and weeping. I want
wind from the river freshening cleared rooms.
She wants birthdays, theatres, flags, peonies.
I want words like lasers. She wants a mother’s
tenderness. Touch ancient as the river.
I want a woman’s wit swift as a fox.
She’s in her city, meeting
her deadline; I’m in my mill village out late
with the dog, listening to the pinging wind bells, thinking
of the twelve years of wanting, apart and together.
We’ve kissed all weekend; we want
to drive the hundred miles and try it again.

Joan Larkin

Musk

June 29, 2019

 

Even longing has its dusky scent,
a musk of faded yellows, blossoms

once tight bright buds, sun and summer leaning
nonchalant on window sills

or seated at a small round table, a porcelain demitasse
casting blue shadows on white linen,

you walking towards me across, perhaps,
an ancient piazza, stones worn by the hurried feet

of lovers who also dreamed of rushing
into waiting arms.

Janet Lee Butler

Three Months Later

January 30, 2019

cheeks flushed a burning pink,
wondering what it would take
for you to call,
for me to call,
for me to stop wanting to
in some sick little
game of hope,
enough to make
the chest ache something pathetic

i want you out –
not a request
but an eviction notice –
i want my body back
i want my brain purged
i want my body to stop trembling
out of some awful need
to be touched

i want to stop
looking at the other side
of the bed and wondering
what it would be like
to meet you there.

Emily Palermo

Death itself

January 26, 2019

And it was Death itself who stood behind me, with his arms wrapped around me as tight as iron bands, and his lipless mouth kissing my neck as if in love. But as well as the horror, I felt a strange longing.

Margaret Atwood
Alias Grace

the world goes asunder

December 9, 2018

On a sunny day. The reality of fine-grained buttocks. The father’s death, a precarious event. I run my hand over your sex. The scent of stripped hazel. Keening comes to an end. Light turns red and runs over our bodies. We’re covered in red silt. We swim like two tadpoles as we touch the unravelling walls. My dress on the floor, like a giant dead bird.

It’s winter. The evening reeks of damp feathers. Icicles drop with a crash, the odd passerby rolls on the asphalt. I tune in my idleness to that of the cat. I read a few lines and then watch as the light wanes on your face, as your eyes change their colour. Beauty belongs to those idling their time away. Our life among poplars and snowfalls, among the conflagrations and parades. As I run my hand over your thigh, the world goes asunder. Somewhere on the outskirts of town, where desire ascends along with the carbon black, where heat no longer reaches, we vegetate superposed in a bed: your nipples on top of my nipples. Your eyes sunken into the dark lighten my skin. The fine-crystal mesh melting away with each breath.

When the heart shrivels up, shrinks to a raisin like grapes left to dry in the attic, when flesh ebbs away, when the body refuses to allow the world in any more, what’s the use of still trying, what’s the use of still smiling?

Leaves afloat in a jug. No old man is waiting.

Doina Ioanid
Chants for Taming the Hedgehog Sow

Longing is raw

November 26, 2018

Longing is not a mind game and that is why I’ve always trusted it. Longing is raw, longing is real; it makes one listen and be attentive to what’s inside. There is mad honesty in longing. So mad that it feels suitable. It is very suitable for me, I’m telling you – I don’t even want to write it or write about it, I want to be it.

Anne Sexton
A Self-Portrait In Letters

The Encounter

November 6, 2018

enchanted by this strange proximity

Longing, and mystery, and delight…
as if from the swaying blackness
of some slow-motion masquerade
onto the dim bridge you came.

And night flowed, and silent there floated
into its satin streams
that black mask’s wolf-like profile
and those tender lips of yours.

And under the chestnuts, along the canal
you passed, luring me askance.
What did my heart discern in you,
how did you move me so?

In your momentary tenderness,
or in the changing contour of your shoulders,
did I experience a dim sketch
of other — irrevocable — encounters?

Perhaps romantic pity
led you to understand
what had set trembling that arrow
now piercing through my verse?

I know nothing. Strangely
the verse vibrates, and in it, an arrow…
Perhaps you, still nameless, were
the genuine, the awaited one?

But sorrow not yet quite cried out
perturbed our starry hour.
Into the night returned the double fissure
of your eyes, eyes not yet illumed.

For long? For ever? Far off
I wander, and strain to hear
the movement of the stars above our encounter
and what if you are to be my fate…

Longing, and mystery, and delight,
and like a distant supplication…
My heart must travel on.
But if you are to be my fate…

Vladimir Nabokov

Venice, Unaccompanied

February 24, 2018

Waking

on the train, I thought

we were attacked

            by light:

chrome-winged birds

hatching from the lagoon.

            That first day

the buoys were all

that made the harbour

            bearable:

pennies sewn into a hemline.

Later I learned to live in it,

            to walk

through the alien city —

a beekeeper’s habit —

            with fierce light

clinging to my head and hands.

Treated as gently as every

            other guest —

each house’s barbed antennae

trawling for any kind

            of weather —

still I sobbed in a glass box

on an unswept street

            with the last

few lire ticking like fleas

off my phonecard I’m sorry

            I can’t

stand this, which

one of us do you love?

Monica Youn

11th August

The truth is she’s tired of men not treating her like the gift she believes she is. It’s a problem she wants to correct – starting now! She has dogs, a pair of Airedales raised from pups. Both are as neurotic as she; as vain as she, in my opinion. The dogs guard the only exit from this room.

Often her mind lays open like a drawer of lethal kitchen knives. She touches the blades one at a time. Her touch is that of a lover, lingering on cold steel. Who ever saw such grace? Such monstrous longing for blood? With such blades as these she could shrieve a soul from the pangs of hell.

‘I have something here,’ she says, smiling like one driven mad by desire. ‘Something I want to show you. Come look. You’ll never be the same again, I promise – ’

Eugène Berman - View in Perspective of a Perfect Sunset

Diary 2nd June

I might steal words from the mouth of Beckian Fritz Goldberg to describe last weekend: words seeming coy or used to shock! However, it’s her “extravagant, sensual fabulations of obsessive memory and the longing it inspires” that I most desire to plagiarise. Not the ice idly dropped “right where, right where” on her you know what – so, yes, something more than titillating erotica is required. Her poetry is suffused with longing – for an old lover, for the past, in particular a “cryptic” childhood partly idealised by wounded memory. Here there be both pleasure and pain. Unlike the plain catastrophe of my own childhood, Ms Goldberg evokes a lush musicality from out of her past…

“Furtively my father would slip a hand under the table and knock. I was three so I’d look around and look under the table wanting to know where it came from and how and that’s when father would drink my milk. I’d sit back up to a drained glass. What happened to my milk? My father would tell me it was the little girls who lived under the floor. They were hungry and wanted my milk. They might want my peas. I knew enough to sense it was a game, to half-believe there weren’t really girls living below us. But I had a vision of them anyway, all blonde with long straight hair, dressed in chambray smocks with frilled white aprons, reaching up, up toward my floor. Otherwise, they seemed to accept their world which must be dark and musty. They’d knock. A chicken wing would disappear.”
(From: My Descent by Beckian Fritz Goldberg)

Quite, quite beautiful, these milk and pea thieves – or, rather, the idea behind them! An “affirmation of the fantastical”. Imagination as damaged memory…

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Mark Rothko once said, “It is important to the human spirit to create art, to experience art, to be open to art. It allows the exultation of the heart and spirit.”

In visual art words are unimportant. The artwork is what it appears to be to the viewer and no more than that. The viewer, by definition, becomes an inherent part of the artwork and any meaning it possesses belongs to the viewer…
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So, last weekend?

A long weekend, yes, with the hours flowing over us like moth clouds. You in white. Me – seething within like a hungry wolf and running with the changing tides – organizing a BBQ for everyone, but wanting only to taste the endless salt flats of you…You who can teach me the sky once again…Ignoring the dead sound of champagne corks and the conversation like the sound of children talking to sunbeams…

Eventually night must fall and our guests depart. Then we will find ourselves hopelessly tangled in its wide-cast nets, in its oceanic depths. Lost in unfathomable majesty. In the delights of the flesh, entwined, a good dream at last.

Oh, to drown in this wine-dark sea of desire with you…

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Having to talk destroys the symphony of silence…