Public Sex Acts
I've been summoned enough to despise the occasion.
Roll call, the snapping to attention- I've loathed
the love that means attendance, that fills a schedule,
announcing dates and times like penal sentences. I've
worn the bright tie and smile of commitment,
the poofy outfit that fits like a clown costume; I look
a buffoon, and resent the song but love the dance
that shortly leads to bed, where laughs are welcome.
Invitations to functions loom like death by committee,
and cyanide-laced hors d'euvres get served to suitors
willing to choke down paradisical aphrodisiacs.
I'm pleased to be here long enough to leave, and need
not be shown the way to the door with its sentries and lineups.
In the gathering, there is no sex save perfunctory flesh,
no love offering: the willingness to be sedate and fetch,
to adopt model posture and believe in appearance,
to raise glasses and sip, sip. There is no love that bids
and wins, but in the bedspread, a timelessness exists.
In all my dealings with this, I've tried, then fled,
sometimes not alone.
There are no portals, and little wisdom.
Men jump from balconies with best wishes
for those below, hitting the sidewalk asleep
and dreaming of remote perches. They grip
metal rungs and arch backs in practice,
perfecting their pre-flight posture
in anticipation of the plummet. Trinkets
fall out of coat pockets, cell phones trill
on belts tightened against the leathered morning,
and handkerchiefs billow in the wind.
Wallets drained of bills strain against buttock-seams
and the cries of the birds sound quietly:
men stretch arms into grotesque wingspans,
thoughts of husbandry and fatherhood aloft
for a moment, then hitting earth with a thud,
cast off like dead plumage. Like crows who fly
from barren nests in search of gallows on which
to rest, or cardinals that shed vermilion atop
the corpses of brethren, men balance on railings
and teeter there, unsure of their flight paths through
this estuary of city skyline, this stasis precipice.
Love as High Romance
I remember Harlequin novels about such things,
steamy windows that fog out of decency's sake
and erogenous prose that exchanges love for need. Still,
I recall a need or love easily confused
with steam and effluent, bodily fluids
flowing into one true feeling, the pumped-out
byproduct of sentiment, an artifact of waste.
I have performed molasses embraces
with the solemnity of paperback models,
the gooey adhesiveness of their flapping, sweaty arms
pledging a slippery grip forever.
I've clutched the voluptuous forms of outlines.
I've fallen for passionate shadows.
All the bodies in the world align like dominoes,
they stack and collapse in an end to the fun.
I remember the grasp of fingers on fleshly axes,
the purple passages that meant sex, rough breaths,
and breathlessness afterward; the catch-up clutch
of claims against her and me spent, the romance
that people can love.