Bad Taste from Issue 91/92
Once in Utah, after I asked everyone to think
of a secret, one of those
dark secrets we mistakenly believe
peculiar to ourselves, a Mormon woman
who had no secrets,
no shadow, no coffee, tea, or doubt,
said I was conducting the class
in bad taste,
and might I consider the others present
who didn’t share my views? I told her
that in this room adultery,
quiet evenings at home, bestiality, religion –
no subject matter was out of bounds.
She wouldn’t be appeased.
Other members of the class asked her
if she remembered any desires for revenge,
any unspoken ambitions,
or perhaps the lie she told her husband one night
when he wanted love and she just wanted
some honest sleep.
She didn’t have such thoughts, she said,
and the class proceeded to eat her alive,
which seemed only right
in a class with bad taste, first her thighs
and the flesh on her upper arms, then
the fine, often unnamed parts
tasteful poets would never mention.
It was a poor lesson, of course,
for the better students.
I had hoped to teach them humility,
gracefulness, and just enough arrogance
to get them through
the coming years of neglect.
The other Mormons were silent.
They didn’t want
to be eaten next. “The truth,”
I told them, “is always somewhat
in bad taste, if good taste is
what’s decided on by a group.”
But I’d failed by then.
One of their friends
had been eaten alive, and I’d forgotten
where I was. All of them clearly knew
the likes of me
who’d proven them, once again, correct.
Stone Seeking Warmth from Issue 81/82
Look, it’s usually not a good idea
to think seriously about me.
I’ve been known to give others
a hard time. I’ve had wives and lovers—
trust that I know a little about trying
to remain whole while living
a divided life. I don’t easily open up.
If you come to me, come to me
so warned. I am smooth and grayish.
It’s possible my soul is made of schist.
But if you are not dissuaded by now,
well, my door is ajar. I don’t care
if you’re in collusion with the wind.
I wouldn’t mind being diminished
one caress at a time. Come in,
there’s nothing here but solitude
and me. I like to keep the house clean
Ode To Illusion from Issue 81/82
When I’ve invited you into my life,
you’ve never refused.
No doubt you understand
how often I’ve wished to feel
out of this world,
become unlocatable, say, to those
who’d want to pin me down.
There are so many of us, though,
in need of your smoke and repertoire
of dreams. Sundays in town
it’s you, I fear, behind those fixed,
beatific smiles. Tell me,
do I look as foolish
when you’re with me?
I’ve tried not to wear you like green
eye-shadow, have always known
you don’t like to be known.
But my disguises are old;
they’ve begun to look like me.
Come back, slip into bed on my side.
I promise not to lift your veil.