desire for desire

October 24, 2020

As you perceive the edge of yourself at the moment of desire, as you perceive the edges of words from moment to moment in reading (or writing), you are stirred to reach beyond perceptible edges — toward something else, something not yet grasped. The unplucked apple, the beloved just out of touch, the meaning not quite attained, are desirable objects of knowledge. It is the enterprise of eros to keep them so. The unknown must remain unknown or the novel ends. As all paradoxes are, in some way, paradoxes about paradox, so all eros is, to some degree, desire for desire. Hence, ruses. What is erotic about reading (or writing) is the play of imagination called forth in the space between you and your object of knowledge. Poets and novelists, like lovers, touch that space to life with their metaphors and subterfuges. The edges of the space are the edges of the things you love, whose inconcinnities make your mind move. And there is Eros, nervous realist in this sentimental domain, who acts out of a love of paradox, that is as he folds the beloved object out of sight into a mystery, into a blind point where it can float known and unknown, actual and possible, near and far, desired and drawing you on.

Anne Carson
Eros the Bittersweet

Why She Writes of Her Love

September 26, 2020

~ with submissive indrawn breath on nights that smell of freshcut red, she writes of a love to which her language denied even words ~

love, he squeeze-spliced into seven types
and threw the two crooked corners away.
lt.col.grammar mapped moods on zones —
meet and mate by mountains, wait within
forests, sulk in pastures, pine away close
to the coast, and desert in deserts. by order.

what came of the margins missing in action?
at first the colonel outlawed unrequited love.
labelled it defected, subnormal, unfit for men
who were men. then at last he crushed
the red-hot rebellion of the rainbow border,
never letting May mix with December, or,
the rich with the poor, or the high with the low.
every mismatch was malady.

it was no country for old men or old women.
sugar daddies and cougars were banished and
the hunchbacked and the handicapped found
themselves in this lacklustre blocklove list.
the rulebook forbade poets to patronize them.
no history — no hyperlinks — no tv — no twitter
no news of this love being refused redemption.
this love, for twisted souls; this love, the lost cause.

Meena Kandasamy

A Book of Music

September 18, 2020

Coming at an end, the lovers
Are exhausted like two swimmers. Where
Did it end? There is no telling. No love is
Like an ocean with the dizzy procession of the waves’ boundaries
From which two can emerge exhausted, nor long goodbye
Like death.
Coming at an end. Rather, I would say, like a length
Of coiled rope
Which does not disguise in the final twists of its lengths
Its endings.
But, you will say, we loved
And some parts of us loved
And the rest of us will remain
Two persons. Yes,
Poetry ends like a rope.

Jack Spicer

entwining bodies

September 11, 2020

And the night offers us
secret refuge,
stroking with shadow fingers,
sensitive and delicate,
our two entwining bodies…

Ancient Europe had no gods. The Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless, and omnipotent; and the concept of fatherhood had not been introduced into religious thought. She took lovers but for pleasure, not to provide her children with a father. Men feared, adored and obeyed the matriarch. . . . Once the relevance of coition to child-bearing had been officially admitted . . . man’s religious status gradually improved. . . The tribal Nymph, or Queen, chose an annual lover from her entourage of young men, for sacrifice at mid-winter when the year ended; making him a symbol of fertility rather than the object of her erotic pleasure. His sprinkled blood served to fructify trees, crops, and flocks, and his flesh was, it seems, eaten raw by the Queen’s fellow-nymphs priestesses wearing the masks of bitches, mares, or sows.

Robert Graves
The Greek Myths vol. one


August 4, 2020

your bed slopes in the
middle where you sleep like a
hotdog in a bun

I perch on one edge
into you like mustard

Josie Mills


June 20, 2020

Send out the singers – let the room be still;
They have not eased my pain nor brought me sleep.
Close out the sun, for I would have it dark
That I may feel how black the grave will be.
The sun is setting, for the light is red,
And you are outlined in a golden fire,
Like Ursula upon an altar-screen.
Come, leave the light and sit beside my bed,
For I have had enough of saints and prayers.
Strange broken thoughts are beating in my brain,
They come and vanish and again they come.
It is the fever driving out my soul,
And Death stands waiting by the arras there.

Ornella, I will speak, for soon my lips
Shall keep a silence till the end of time.
You have a mouth for loving – listen then:
Keep tryst with Love before Death comes to tryst;
For I, who die, could wish that I had lived
A little closer to the world of men,
Not watching always thro’ the blazoned panes
That show the world in chilly greens and blues
And grudge the sunshine that would enter in.
I was no part of all the troubled crowd
That moved beneath the palace windows here,
And yet sometimes a knight in shining steel
Would pass and catch the gleaming of my hair,
And wave a mailed hand and smile at me,
Whereat I made no sign and turned away,
Affrighted and yet glad and full of dreams.
Ah, dreams and dreams that asked no answering!
I should have wrought to make my dreams come true,
But all my life was like an autumn day,
Full of gray quiet and a hazy peace.

What was I saying? All is gone again.
It seemed but now I was the little child
Who played within a garden long ago.
Beyond the walls the festal trumpets blared.
Perhaps they carried some Madonna by
With tossing ensigns in a sea of flowers,
A painted Virgin with a painted Child,
Who saw for once the sweetness of the sun
Before they shut her in an altar-niche
Where tapers smoke against the windy gloom.
I gathered roses redder than my gown
And played that I was Saint Elizabeth,
Whose wine had turned to roses in her hands.
And as I played, a child came thro’ the gate,
A boy who looked at me without a word,
As tho’ he saw stretch far behind my head
Long lines of radiant angels, row on row.
That day we spoke a little, timidly,
And after that I never heard the voice
That sang so many songs for love of me.
He was content to stand and watch me pass,
To seek for me at matins every day,
Where I could feel his eyes the while I prayed.
I think if he had stretched his hands to me,
Or moved his lips to say a single word,
I might have loved him – he had wondrous eyes.

Ornella, are you there? I cannot see –
Is every one so lonely when he dies?,
The room is filled with lights – with waving lights –
Who are the men and women ’round the bed?
What have I said, Ornella? Have they heard?
There was no evil hidden in my life,
And yet, and yet, I would not have them know –

Am I not floating in a mist of light?
O lift me up and I shall reach the sun!

Sara Teasdale

A silent transvestite leaning against a post
is less sad than São João Avenue at dawn,
when the venereal north-easterly fog reclines against
the empty alien walls, and women
wait, and the drunk waits for his shadow
fallen on the road. The hour when the cats
sink on their question-mark tails with no answers
and sailors have sung and now wait and look at each other
waiting for their song, waiting to listen to it
and all languages are incomprehensible
like the wind waiting for itself
listening to its old wail of broken windows.

In the anonymous room barely lit up
by the outside neon, the lovers
are puppets of time: they listen to
night’s violent caresses, put their arms
round each other’s back soft as a dishevelled bed.
The wind gets trapped in the Avenue of acrid smells.
and the lovers fall asleep to the neon’s rhythm, untethered,
bottled-up, night among the posts.

Alfredo Fressia

the names of lovers

May 10, 2020

There was a time when mapmakers named the places they travelled through with the names of lovers rather than their own. Someone seen bathing in a desert caravan, holding up muslin with one arm in front of her. Some old Arab poet’s woman, whose white-dove shoulders made him describe an oasis with her name. The skin bucket spreads water over her, she wraps herself in the cloth, and the old scribe turns from her to describe Zerzura.”

Michael Ondaatje
The English Patient


March 30, 2020

Lovers are always waiting. They hate to wait; they love to wait. Wedged between these two feelings, lovers come to think a great deal about time, and to understand it very well, in their perverse way.

Anne Carson
Eros the Bittersweet; Now Then