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The Cinnamon Peeler

If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
and leave the yellow bark dust
on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek
you could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers
floating over you. The blind would
stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe
under rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbor to your hair
or the crease
that cuts your back. This ankle.
You will be known among strangers
as the cinnamon peeler's wife.

I could hardly glance at you
before marriage
never touch you
-- your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.
I buried my hands
in saffron, disguised them
over smoking tar,
helped the honey gatherers...

When we swam once
I touched you in water
and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.
You climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women
the grasscutter's wife, the lime burner's daughter.
And you searched your arms
for the missing perfume.
and knew
what good is it
to be the lime burner's daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in an act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of scar.

You touched
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler's wife. Smell me.

~ Michael Ondaatje

You Can Ring My Bell

Do you like making spoons in bed?
Or do you do it on all fours like beasts
Perhaps in the style of the missionaries
Or does she straddle you like a monkey on a stick?
Is she animated when you’re at it?
Thrashing about a lot
Or motionless like a resuscitation doll
Maybe you have her with trembling knees against a wall?
Mounting her roughly from behind
What about the wheelbarrow?
Have you tried that position?
Maybe bondage or spanking is your thing?
Do you play two way family favorites?
Kissing the inside of her milky white thigh
Before drinking from the velvet cup
Does she enjoy performing orally?
Is her behavior quite low, morally
Base and sluttish
Or is she prim and proper
Prudish about being rude-ish

Maybe it’s not what you do but who you do it with
Vampish or tarty, dumb or smarty
Clear complexioned or spotty
Level headed or dotty
Intelligently spectacled
Scantily clad in edibles
What about role playing and dressing up
Does she wear uniforms of cotton or serge?
And do you dress as a centurion
Or a gladiator
Do you play doctors and nurses?
Or vicars and tarts Master and slave
Butler and parlor maid
Teacher and pupil
Acting out fantasies of filth
Do you do it wearing a hat?
In German helmet and jack boots
Cross dressing perhaps
In a pencil skirt or floral dress
Leather goods or latex or pace
What about toys or sexual aids
No let’s not go there
What about swinging do you fancy that?
Arriving in a Porsche and going home in a Passat
Does she need to be of a certain physical type?
To be of the right dimensions?
Or proportions
Tall and pencil thin
Or perhaps pear shaped or round
An hour glass figure
Or a stick thin anorexic
A particular color eyes
Hair, long, short or none at all
Blonde, brunette or red
Body piercing?
A turn on? Or turn off?
Tattoo’s like wise
Do you like your beaver wild or tamed?
Does a Brazilian look too much like you need a swipe card?
And if it looks like Adolph Hitler’s moustache do you care
When her breasts are released are they like airbags deploying
Or are they small and pert just enough for toying
Are you fussy about her appearance?
Or is a pulse all she needs
Perhaps you’re not even that fussy

Is she noisy when you’re on the nest?
Perhaps that’s what you like the best
Once she’s warmed up do you make her bellow?
So you have to turn her over and make her bite the pillow?
What about location does it matter where it’s done
Do you like it to be a public place?
When she’s sitting on your face
Do you like it al fresco in the woods or maybe the park
Or does a dog sniffing your bum put you off your stroke
At someone’s party under a pile of coats
At the cinema or theatre
Out back in a dark alley way
In the car? We’ve all done it there
All around the house in the bathroom and on the stair
Well you can do it in the hall or on the kitchen table
Even on the toilet if she doesn’t care
It doesn’t matter what you do to ring each others bell
Or where you ring it bloody hell
Just as long as all party’s are willing and able
That’s the best thing of all and the most important
And the most exiting when she tells you yes

You Can Ring My Bell
In the deep dark of the night
my heart dreams still of you,
my body writhing, missing your touch.
I avoid the light, yet cannot
escape the power of your love
as it pierces the darkness inside.
You walk in the sun, I by the moon,
but we came together once
and I cannot forget.
I knew my fate when your eyes
flicked back to mine, and I gazed
down at you. I felt the power
you would wield over me
and I did not resist.
Now you are my life and my death.
I love you, cannot have you.
I need you, cannot leave you.
Existing between you and death,
between eternal love and damnation,
I dream of you and find no peace
in the stillness of the dark.

Chemistry 101

In a room stripped clean of furnishings
And the two of us stripped clean
Of clothes and caution
Pour cool drinks and mix in good music
Then like Gerbils in a wheel
Let us power the world
With the lemon sharp electricity
Crackling in the heavy air -
Sparking between us like
Fireflies in flight.

A single kiss and I’ll fall into you
My head dizzy with desire
In this solitary room built for two
Blood surges through our veins,
Throbbing in a shared rhythm.
Your eyes that paralyze
Set my heavenly body in motion.
In an instant, like the flip of a switch
The hunger ignites us
And then reunites us
Once again in its fiery dance.

A searching glance recalls this memory
Of your lingering touch not yet felt,
So lightly landed, with shivers afire
Exploding and exploring the raw voltage of our dance.
And, we have danced this volcanic tango
Many times before, haven’t we, love?
Yet time after time, all is newly familiar.

Cool air on our skin and the sweat of
Cool cocktails on our palms
Cooling our fingers and cooling our tongues
Cool music floating through the air,
Adding melodic punctuation to our freefall ballet.

In this world with electricity enough
For the many worlds beyond us
There are no glaciers near or large enough
To quench or quell the intensity of this inferno.
Face it my pet, there is just simply no way
To cool the heat
That lives in this world
Between us.

Bobbi Baker

For I Have Lived Like a Dusty Angel
by Michael Blumenthal

And the muddy waters have washed over me,
coating my large wings with soot, clouding my eyes,
and the raging blood has coursed through my veins,
flooding the flatlands of virtue and decency,
ravaging the structures, inundating the houses,
shattering the windows, and I have grown heavy
with my deeds, and light with desire,
been betrayer and betrayed, wounder and wounded,
taken my turn at whatever was possible,
bad father good father infidel satyr,
been decent, forgiving, tender, wounding,
whoremonger exile patriot rake.
I have shaken the birches, made love 
under the sycamore, wept beneath the willow, 
I have trembled with desire
beside the mock orange (What good am I
to anyone, I ask, if I’m not good
to myself? Why pray to an invisible God
if I can’t please the beckoning flesh?)
And what more can a man ask of his body
but that it confess to everything? Sad bird, 
this human one, but happy in exile: a confusion 
of tongues, a mottle of trembling needs,
the dust still gathering on these broken wings—
the darkness, the hunger, the flickering soot.

Kuroda Saburo

I am completely different.
Though I am wearing the same tie as yesterday,
am as poor as yesterday,
as good for nothing as yesterday,
I am completely different.
Though I am wearing the same clothes,
am as drunk as yesterday,
living as clumsily as yesterday, nevertheless
I am completely different.
Ah …
I patiently close my eyes
on all the grins and smirks
on all the twisted smiles and horse laughs—-
and glimpse then, inside me
one beautiful white butterfly
fluttering towards tomorrow.
Kuroda Saburo, (translated by James Kirkup, Burning Girraffes: Modern and Contemporary Japanese Poetry


Nina Casian


Call yourself alive? Look, I promise you
that for the first time you’ll feel your pores opening
like fish mouths, and you’ll actually be able to hear
your blood surging though all those lanes,
and you’ll feel light gliding across the cornea
like the train of a dress. For the first time
you’ll be aware of gravity
like a thorn in your heel,
and your shoulder blades will ache for want of wings.
Call yourself alive? I promise you
you’ll be deafened by dust falling on the furniture,
you’ll feel your eyebrows turning into two gashes,
and every memory you have – will begin
a Genesis.

©Ardis, 1983; Oxford Univ. Press, 1993
translated from the Romanian by Brenda Walker & Andrea Deletant

listen to me,
i can only say this once.
are you listening?
see these empty hands,
know that it was all for you.

{chrissie white, seattle}

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love
And let us count the comments of censuring old men as one copper
Suns are able to set and rise again
For us, when the brief light sets once and for all
There is an endless night which must be slept through.
Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred,
Then another thousand, then a second hundred,
Then, constantly, another thousand, then a hundred,
Then, when we will have done that many thousands of times,
We will confuse the count, so that we (ourselves) don't know....

Gaius Valerius Catallus

Your tongue, a snake's tongue, creeps into my mouth, my dreams..
it does something to me, hypnotic, it entrances and waylays me..
I feel it in my sleep, in my skin and in the beating of my heart.
Your heart, it is an ocean for me to cross on a broken raft.
It pulls me under, deeper and deeper.
Lying in me, as though it were a white 
Stone in the depths of a well, is one 
Memory that I cannot, will not, fight: 
It is happiness, and it is pain. 
Anyone looking straight into my eyes 
Could not help seeing it, and could not fail 
To become thoughtful, more sad and quiet 
Than if he were listening to some tragic tale. 

I know the gods changed people into things, 
Leaving their consciousness alive and free. 
To keep alive the wonder of suffering, 
You have been metamorphosed into me.
The simple steps are best.
The left and pause, then right again.
Just intention. Just attention
To details in our breathing,
To the texture of your shirt,
And perfume in the room.

Simplest is best.
Back, front, front, back
In perfect symmetry perfectly In
Each step, this very step.

I don't know you well at all
But I'm sure I will recall
Your touch, your steps, your breath
When I am alone again;
When we are each alone again.

Gibson Batch
I am going to the market
Please wait till I come back
You can wash your clothes if you get bored
And if the door disturbs you
Take it off
And put anything in its place
Please don't leave your face inside the mirror
And then quit by the window
Don't commit suicide as is your habit

For me
I come back

Ahmed Barakat
Suddenly one day
the meaning of

diamonds pearls
turmeric onions
Kabir Nirala
Heaven Hell
crickets mist

will become

just as
passing over
thatched roof
suddenly sparkles.

Kedarnath Singh
For Octavio Paz

The poem spins over the head of a man 
in circles close now now far

The man discovers it tries to possess it 
but the poem disappears

The man makes his poem
from whatever he can grasp 

That which escapes
will belong to future men

Homero Aridjis
4370 ac20
So many stones have been thrown at me,
That I'm not frightened of them anymore,
And the pit has become a solid tower,
Tall among tall towers.
I thank the builders,
May care and sadness pass them by.
From here I'll see the sunrise earlier,
Here the sun's last ray rejoices.
And into the windows of my room
The northern breezes often fly.
And from my hand a dove eats grains of wheat...
As for my unfinished page,
The Muse's tawny hand, divinely calm
And delicate, will finish it.

-- Anna Akhmatova 
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