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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Three Poems
by Lisa Martinovic
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the boiling point of love

it is said that if you drop a live frog into a pot of boiling water
it will respond to the shock by leaping out of the pot and onto your kitchen floor
but if you place that frog in a pot of cold water on the stove
and turn the burner on low
it will slowly, surely boil to death

like the frog
obliviously boiling into dinner
Kayla got used to a lot of things

the way water from faucets
gurgles and chokes to a stop
any hour of day or night
the way Wes yawns
they must be working on the water line again

Kayla got used to toilets that don't flush
shit piling up on shit

the smell of urine on blankets
even after they've been washed
his son's blankets on their bed
making love
smelling urine

the summertime ritual
they call inspection
picking ticks from his balls and groin
the dark sweaty crack of his ass
so often soiled
from shitting in the fields
where he works
tending cattle
building fence

the way Wes comes to their every sexual encounter
as if it were the first time he ever made love
the zeal of a teenager
after all these years of touching only her

the way he buries his face
in her pussy
stops to remove his new store-bought teeth
then resumes
the teeth nestled in a box of hollow point bullets
like that's exactly where they belonged

the way she comes
how he pulls her on top and
she slides up and down
up and down and
she watches herself in the mirror
mounted on the wall
above their bed and she
notices how pretty she looks how

Kayla wonders why she feels sad
after they make love
she thinks there must be a million Cosmo readers
who would give anything for a man
like Wes
a man who loves her through tantrums and infidelity
who wants her more
than he wants his own freedom
a man who would hug on her forever
if only she'd let him

Kayla doesn't understand
why she feels like she's suffocating
doesn't notice how she's
gotten used to taking
shallow breaths
Cry Buona Notte - slam version

Buona notte, he said
Do you know what that means?

the dance is over
house lights bright sting
my eyes watch musicians tired packing
a 45 hissing skips in a groove
our clothes stained muscles aching
glass slippers shattered feet bleeding
I cling, I beg for one last hug
He sighs assent
lets me curl and snake 'round his chest
thick and muscled chest I've stroked and
clutched all primal urgency suckling
I became with him I became
the pleasure and succor I found          
bound up in his arms but               

that dance is over
our beat fading, rhythm gone
his arms wooden, hands limp in his lap
as if the ordeal had exhausted every fiber
drained his will
this chill more icy than words that time
that time he whispered
I think you want to be violated

a frantic tango I will not learn
nor will I ever forget                     [nor ever forget]
the nameless naked waltz
that called us to this place
the steps that led us to be one
two, three, dip and sway
one, two, three

Ciao, bella, he murmured
I leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on his cheek
I felt his sweet soft lips brush against my prickling skin and
pause just long enough for me to hope

that he might linger
might change his mind
might bring the tips of his fingers to my chin
deftly turn my lips to his
and take me down with him once again
he paused long enough for me wonder
how can one body contain two men
the only man who met my ache where she hides          
cradling her tender between steady pumping beats
of his heart, a man
who cries for lambs slaughtered and
love poems sung him sharing shoulders with this mongrel
who turned fangs on me
suddenly struck rabid, a savage
of the late night street fight he
thrills to bloodsport, no
I can't wrap my mind around
this contradiction so I spin my prayers tighter still      
around this wounded child as if                     
I could ever save him

Captive in his pause
I cannot save myself from falling
helpless into the memory
of his hand searching for mine
our fingers interlacing, straining, squeezing , releasing
while we kissed we were inhaling
one another's dreams
while we fed hungers we could not name he held
this part of me that never gets held
while making love we were bound in ragged grace
blind to shadows veiled by tangled layers
of desperation and desire, I
remember nothing
but the tingling heat of his moist palm
igniting my
synapses firing like Chinese New Year
the intoxicating cocktail of adrenaline and endorphin
flooding every edgy nerve
arousing thirsty worlds
erupting in sensation
more fierce than orgasm quaking
in the peril of surrender

and in that agonizing pause of his flesh against mine
I remember wondering will I ever feel that touch again
and knowing that if I don't
I'll die searching

I felt his sweet soft lips brush against my prickling
skin and pause just long enough
for me to hope

Space Abuse Must End!

In the waning months of a whining millennium
Alanis Morisette was rhapsodizing in Rolling Stone
about the joys of touring with gal pal, Tori Amos
"It's really about holding space for each other" she offers earnestly
Holding Space
Have you noticed how suddenly
is holding space for someone or something?
It's this bizarre New Age ritual
a high-concept shorthand for
"I am so here for you, Angel Moonbeam"
a gushing affirmation that started out as an innocent hot tub group-therapy tool
-probably somewhere in California-
mushrooming into a full-fledged cult, spearheaded
by luminaries like Richard Gere
who is reported to be mentally
holding space for umpteen million Tibetan refugees-bless his heart-
But, that's a lot of acreage
No offense to Mr. Gere
but does he really have that much mental space to hold?
or is he using space commandeered from others
who maybe weren't aware of the value of their real estate
or that it was even up for grabs?
No wonder the world feels ever more crowded
all our public domain space is being sucked up
by gelatinous liberal do-gooders advancing their own agendas
and famous people bingeing on Buddhism or Deepak Chopra
Not that there's anything wrong with holding space for Tibetans
School children in Lhasa are probably scribbling thank-you notes right now
honoring the colossal sacrifice American celebrities are making on their behalf
Is it just me or is this whole phenomenon smelling
suspiciously like a Trail of Tears for the New Economy?
Was space ever consulted
about its role as a tool for the spiritual advancement of the human species?
or is it just another natural resource
like rivers and rainforests
that we may plunder at will?

Incredibly enough there are those who would make a mockery
of the sacred dimension of space-cropping
Nike, for example, is holding space for entire nations
of brown people making thirty cents an hour gluing shoes
for Americans to jog around all the space
in our homes, offices and neighborhoods
that we are holding for them but not sharing with them

Captain Kirk spoke for all rapacious conquerors masquerading
as peacekeepers when he intoned the immortal words
Space, the final frontier
So-First we hold
then we conquer
then we build a mall
from Columbus to Kirk
same story, different century

We are holding space hostage
from the bottomless pit of therapy groups for spaced-out baby boomers
to the great corporate stampede south
that's left millions of US workers holding low rent space instead of high dollar jobs
It's space abuse on top of every the other injustice

Mark my words, people, someday spacism will be regarded as
reprehensible as other famous ism's
But we can start turning the tide right now
Spacists everywhere-and you know who you are-
I implore you to break the imperialist chain while there is yet time
We must set an example
for the craven corporate cabal corrupting us all
every molecule from here to Pluto will suffer
the fate of Native Americans who learned the hard way
what happens when white people hold space

We keep it

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