Exquisite Corpse
HomeSearchSubmitArchivesCorpse Mall
issues 5 & 6 home | ec chair | broken news | celine | critical urgencies | burning bush | ficciones
secret agents
| stage and screen | letters | gallery
Five Poems
by Janet Mason

Sapphics for a lost longing

I am sated but still I yearn for the one
who came before; her life in fragments, her words
aflame; yet rising in her rose-fingered
dawn I am the dew.

To me she is the sacred well, the rivers, streams, and
oceans of the sphere that gave birth to the Gods;
In her presence the Titans must have trembled
and grown very small.

For her I would sail across the Aegean and
flirt with Charon on the River Styx and risk
drowning in my own sweet juices all in pur-
suit of one pure note.

My ear pressed to the wind, the distant strains
of her stringed desire, the quivering dill and chervil,
the light on the lip of a wave; I am sat-
ed yet still I burn.

Sapphics for the night sky

The shooting stars are razor blades brightly
slicing open the ribbons of her desire;
The flashing black sky echoes all of her:
a brilliant aching.

I take each shred of sky and wrap myself
in the colors layered into night:
saffron cerise crimson magenta flame
stellar amethyst.

Rainbow silk strains against my fingers, hips and
thighs, ankles tied tight, all of my flesh
bound in her aura of glory and longing
for moonlit beauty.

All of her loves are with me: Gongyla and
her lyre, Dicca with her slender hands, Micca,
Gorgo, Andromeda and, yes, Atthis too:
each betrayal burns.

I am the blaze beneath their cheeks, their nakedness
holds me to her rock hard cliffs as my hand slips from
smooth ribbons and I cleave to the night sky: Sappho, O
Sappho, possess me.

The three wives and I

sit on the deck eating breakfast
after a night of much teasing
and no action--
in the morning I crawled into bed
with two of them,
laughing as we scratched each other's backs,
naked and safe--
this couple with which
I have often made three--
now we sit licking mango juice
from our fingertips
and drop perfect pearls of translucent
green grapes into our mouths--

the thin clarity of morning sun
has not yet begun to heat what will become the day--
and we are still sheltered from the blistering inferno
until a yellow jacket tumbles into a glass
of orange juice and sugar
put out just for the bees--

and I say, that's what happens when you
give yourself up to desire...it kills you...

as I say this I look at the third wife--
who has sought refuge in her friends' home
and sits silent and composed
around her shattered and mending heart--
and she looks back at me,
no, into me--
and though I have hidden them well
she sees the demons
peeking from the corner of my eye--

it is like this, life,
the fire raging below, even here
sitting with friends in the trembling blue air;
it scorches the blond planks of the deck
and burns in the soles of my feet--

as two of the wives sit transfixed,
watching with fascination
as the yellow jacket engorges itself toward death

and I am trapped in thoughts of drowning

and the third woman, this temporary wife,
calmly stands and with her fork
plucks the yellow jacket from its fate--

there is no reason at all, I think,
that she can do this while we sit paralyzed
watching as it staggers along the wooden rail toward freedom.

Calamity Jane
(the Frontier revisited)

Finally after a static childhood
black and white Sunday afternoons
biting the silver bullet of boredom
between staged barroom brawls
and grunts of conversation
howdy pahdner and how's yer horse
I understand the fuss--
when Calamity Jane
swaggers through the swingin' doors
in her spurs and worn leather chaps
and stills the joint with a long cool glance
as her black jack fists curl up into naked power
ricocheting off whiskered faces
wagonwheel chandeliers swaying
whiskey bottles crashing
bar tender ducking for cover
as I giddyup on my sofa
pulling the long handled silver guns
from my tooled leather holster
and spin them around my itchy fingers
joining ranks with Calamity Jane
brawling for justice and womanly revenge
our voices converging above the din
in a long bloodcurdling yell:


Holmesburg Junction


Nameless faces/ newsprint eyes
commuters' ceaseless tramp


Pierced vacant lots:
broken glass/ragweed daggers


Billboards' grainy hold--
lie-studded skies


High-voltage graffiti
undecipherable lives


Junkyard's architecture:
rusted frames piled high


Battered lives
seamless shifts


Smokestacks belching
blue sky to grey


Martini glass lit brightly
over discarded shoe


Lives hinged
to prison walls


Chiseled stone
blocks in place


Sentinel towers:
vacant eyes keep watch.

Janet Mason's poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and essays have been published widely, from the Brooklyn Review to American Writing. Her work has appeared frequently in the Exquisite Corpse and is also included in THUS SPAKE THE CORPSE: AN EXQUISITE CORPSE READER, 1988-1998, Black Sparrow Press. Her work has also recently appeared in Dutiful Daughters, Seal Press, and in Those Who Can...Teach, Wildcat Canyon Press, and is forthcoming in Room of One's Own. Her collection of poetry When I Was Straight was published by Insight To Riot Press. Her recently completed manuscript of creative nonfiction is entitled Tea Leaves: A memoir of mothers and daughters.


When I Was Straight Poems/ Janet Mason Insight to Riot Press ISBN/Poetry 1-882827-06-6
A Fucking Brief History of Fucking Insight to Riot Press Poetry/ISBN 1-882827-00-07

When I Was Straight ($7) and A Fucking Brief History of Fucking ($5) can be ordered directly from the author (checks payable to Janet Mason) from PO Box 4993, Philadelphia PA 19119

Email: JanetMason@aol.com

issues 5 & 6 home | ec chair | broken news | celine | critical urgencies | burning bush | ficciones
secret agents
| stage and screen | letters | gallery
home | search | submit | corpse cafe | archives | corpse mall | our gang
Exquisite Corpse Mailing List Subscribe Unsubscribe

©1999-2002 Exquisite Corpse - If you experience difficulties with this site, please contact the webmistress.