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

Lovers

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

Plotting for Kisses

November 12, 2019

The girl from up the stairs is plotting for kisses.
While making her lips taste of tea leaves before painting them,
she collects the stormy weather to darken her light eyes with.
The girl leans back and turns her hand into a piece of art,
or a photograph of two lovers.

She slips inside of stained glass and roams through dusk
in shades of purple, blue, and milky white angel wings.
She casts aside her identity for just a few hours
and pretends that she is anyone you want her to be,
while never changing her smile.

You can hold onto her, around the slender waist,
but only with a grip as weak as autumn light,
before she passes back out into the night,
swooning into the pages of history books,
like all good stereotypes.

James Cramphorn

Memories

October 17, 2019

As a young man I was little more than a piece of flotsam on the sea of life. There were girls, women, some passionate, some not. I remember waking beside one naked young woman after a Friday night party in London. I had the vaguest recollection of leaving the party with her inside a cab. But now I didn’t know where the hell I was. I slipped quickly from her bed, gathered up my clothes and escaped to the bathroom without disturbing her.

Memories are built like this: a simple atlas containing maps of the past. The world that touches you is fact and fiction; a strange mix of truth and lies. Because I had lied to the woman, and she had lied to me: it was the way of the world.

That morning, still half-dark, I walked freezing cold streets completely lost. Eventually I came on a milkman and asked him, Where am I? I’m lost.

And he, smiling, said, Finchely Road. Following his directions, I located the Underground station and passage home. God bless the Tube. But milkmen are no more.

I often became lost in Venice. At night I left the wooden shutters open, and night noises would enter my bedroom uninvited: music, passing voices, the wholeness of the city that shimmered on water like a dream.

Then, an earlier time, in Paris. A girl running, her breasts swinging as she ran, her hips swaying. Like the wine in my glass when a tremor runs through it. Memories are nothing more than recordings of laughter, of tears, of momentary passion: they’re like holiday photographs, or footprints in damp sand. They are like bite marks on my body in a rumpled bed.

Desire

September 24, 2019

in my dreams
I hold my lovers
next to me all at once
and ask them

what was it I desired?

my hands are full
of their heads
like bunches of cut roses
blond hair, brown hair, red, black,
their eyes are pools of bewilderment
staring up at me
from the bouquet

what was it I desired?
I ask again

was it your bodies?
did I hope by draping
your flesh over me
I could escape
boredom
loneliness
gray hairs shooting
towards me
from the future
like thin arrows?
did I think I could escape,
by taking your breath
into my mouth,
did I think I could escape
the responsibility
of breathing?

what did I desire in you?

sex
knowledge?
power?
love?

did I expect the clouds to
crack
and blue moths to fly out of the stars?
did I expect a voice
to call to me
saying
“Here at last is the answer.”

what
I yell at them
shaking my lovers
what did I desire in you?

their ears fall off like petals
they shed their faces
in a pile at my feet
their bewildered eyes
pucker and close
centres of fallen flowers

the last face
floats down
circling in the darkness
at my feet

what did I desire in you? I whisper

the stems of their bodies
dry in my hands

Mary Mackey

it tends toward a climax

August 11, 2019

Lovers’ reading of each other’s bodies (of that concentration of mind and body which lovers use to go to bed together) differs from the reading of written pages in that it is not linear. It starts at any point, skips, repeats itself, goes backward, insists, ramifies in simultaneous and divergent messages, converges again, has moments of irritation, turns the page, finds its place, gets lost. A direction can be recognized in it, a route to an end, since it tends toward a climax, and with this end in view it arranges rhythmic phases, metrical scansions, recurrence of motives. But is the climax really the end? Or is the race toward that end opposed by another drive which works in the opposite direction, swimming against moments, recovering time?

Italo Calvino
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

Kusama has said, “I don’t like sex. I had an obsession with sex. When I was a child, my father had lovers and I saw him with them. My mother sent me to spy on him. I didn’t want to have sex with anyone for years.” In a not unusual move, she coped with this dread of sex through her work. Even in an oeuvre pitted with repetition,  her obsession with sexuality and phallic objects stands out. During the years she spent in New York, from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, she covered furniture with fake penises, protested violence with public nudity, opened a boutique to sell see-through clothing, briefly published a magazine called Kusama Orgy, and offered herself to Nixon in exchange for him pulling out of Vietnam. She had photos taken of herself in the nude, dots superimposed on her flesh, but when she staged performance pieces in which others were naked, she was usually clothed.

While she is little known for her literary efforts outside of Japan, Kusama also writes books. They usually center on luminous lunatics, prostitutes, and drug addicts and include scenes like this one, in which a hustler cuts off his john’s cock:

“In his accursed hand he notices something that glitters a bright sports-car silver. The semen dogging him through the night continues to flow incessantly, entwining itself around the jackknife in his hand and dripping down on the carpet.”

Cynthia Gralla
Kusama Yayoi: pop goes the disease
BODY 22nd March 2019

It is only thanks to your good looks
I can take part
in the rites of love.

Mystical ecstasies,
treasons delightful
as a crimson lipstick,
a perverse rococo
of psychological involutions,
sweetness of carnal longings
that take your breath,
pits of despair
sinking to the very bottom of the world:
all this I owe to you.

How tenderly every day I should
lash you with a whip of cold water,
if you alone allow me to possess
beauty and wisdom irreplaceable.

The souls of my lovers
open to me in a moment of love
and I have them in my dominion.
I look as does a sculptor
on his work
at their faces snapped shut with eyelids,
martyred by ecstasy,
made dense by happiness.
I read as does an angel
thoughts in their skulls
I feel in my hand
a beating human heart,
I listen to the words
which are whispered by one human to another
in the frankest moments of one’s life.

I enter their souls,
I wander
by a road of delight or of horror
to lands as inconceivable
as the bottoms of the oceans.
Later on, heavy with treasures
I come slowly
to myself.

O, many riches,
many precious truths
growing immense in a metaphysical echo,
many initiations
delicate and startling
I owe to you, my thigh.

The most exquisite refinement of my soul
would not give me any of those treasures
if not for the clear, smooth charm
of an amoral little animal.

Anna Swir
translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

Well of course I’ve tried lavender. And pulling my memory out, ribbonlike and dripping. And shrieking into my pillow. And writing the poems. And making more friends. And baking warm brown cookies. And therapy. And intimacy. And pictures of rainbows. And all of the movies about lovers and the terrible things they do to each other. And watching the ones in other languages. And leaving the subtitles off. And listening to the language. And forgetting my name.  And feeling the dirt on my skin.  And screaming in the shower.  And changing my shampoo. And living alone. And cutting my hair. And buying a turtle. And petting the cat. And travelling. And writing more poems. And touching a different body. And digging a grave. And digging a grave. Of course, I’ve tried it. Of course I have.

yasmin belkhyr
September is a weary month