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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Five Poems
by Andy Young
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Voodou Headwashing Ceremony

Wear white and bring an offering:
something for the fiery Petro,
for the cool and gentle rada.

: Any one could be possessed :

Like all life it begins with a nothing,
then a small chaos, then
the first faint beginning of the drum

any one any one any one

Scrape fuzz from the muzzle of the black violet.
Squeeze succulents to an oozing juice.
Stir yellow powder into champagne.
Spread blue cloth for ocean spirits:
Agwe, Lasiren

John the Baptist laps this slop
of honey locust we splash
on this his feast day, growing hairy
wild unchristian souls while Mary,
Mother, Ezili, remains, candled red,
inked to the scapular span
of a copper-headed woman.

Smell of sandal, myrrh, rum spat
in spray through the teeth. A hissing.
A hiissssssssweat a sweet, salt film.
Trace of rust on the tongue.
Eyes drift, flutter in socket.

: Any one could be possessed :

The lwa want to plant in you capillary roots.
You may become some one, thing, else.
Your spine may stretch to make the new body,
bathing in calf's milk, wanting salt
offerings. You could be possessed.

You could be Legba, god of crossroads,
collecting broken trinkets, standing on tracks,
arms spread in embrace of coming light,
whistle screaming toward you -- you could
be Gede, god of death, sex, regeneration
wanting shots of rum, decked like a bruise
in black and purple, possessed, possessed

Rattle the snakebone baubles in your lobes
pirouette * pirouette
it will all unravel yes
pirouette * pirouette

Let the rumble tell you what it must.
Body moves when summoned
as animal, from a place past thought
in the tooth-growl: the inborn taste
for blood, sinew, spine deep whine of
one who wants it wants to grasp an oh
a massive summons to the union.

If you fear the taking over
let us stop it simply holler
we can make it go away, but
you should know that we invite it
sprinkle cornmeal circles, fires,
build altars of skeletal offerings,
beseech them to descend. Possess us.

A sound like silk ripping --
the feral reign, the human gone,
instinct whittled to a pointy talon.

Hold back to point of rupture.
Seek the frenzy and pluck
its too-ripe plum. Get it
to your mouth before it bursts.
Open the top of your head
and let the screams fly out-


The night you lay shivering,
liquor of blood simmering
in your limbs from a night of fever,
I looked at your frame
shimmering in sweat
and wanted to fuck you,
draw your sap in, hold your form
in my arms like the pietà,
kiss your neck until you cooled.

How could I not love you in a dying way,
the arc and curve of all love anyway?
How could I not want us
to devour each other:
finger on the beat of the throat
hand on the throb of the cock,
offering the pulse
because there is nothing else to give?


As if we are young and only know
play you pick the Malaga wine polish,
want me to paint your toes the fresh
blood red you dread so much, blood
they drain from you, leech-like
sort into numbers chart to chart.

Foot to thigh I ply the paint
on your sad toe soldiers rank and file,
see the third toe naked of its shield,
the fourth a shrivel of cartilage wrinkled
and ridged, a trick of your medicine,
your poison, your own body
rejecting itself, a bitch who shoves
her pups from succor, leaves
the gape of dumb mammals
who know only suck and its lack.

I pause between feet afraid
of the next flesh waiting,
its toes: small bald men
in a mess of flesh and cuticle,
angles of dead protein
shrinking to nothing.

A gasp inside, a rush
as if risen to a too-high altitude
skull pressed in the pressure
and the swim of nausea
rises up and up I end up
meeting myself again
though from a distance,
you a stranger left below,
right toes a-wiggle like a kid.

You look you see the pause,
the stutter of my love for you --
what small love is this what
kind of friend am I as high
above us both I am
looking down at you.

I cannot be your lover
and if I were what would I be --
a still same empty handed
one who'd watch your skin
for spots of change, chart
stars in an indifferent sky.

I can only cradle your other
foot, begin again to paint
the red like your tongue
I have wanted to suck, red
the Cherokee blood we share,
red the blood in the seep
of our dreams, the blood
that you live by and die of,
red that leaves your toes
a mangle of small wounds
toes your mamma
little-piggied home, never
knowing this moment could be.

Venus Explains Her Love for Vulcan

No other man has his mettle.
He comes to me with rumble and flame,
ignites me, forges gold.
I watch him weld metal,
meld an elemental liquid:
fire is solid, liquid fire,
and I see the beginning of the world.
You can keep it, Eve:
the rib and the work and the root of pain.
This is genesis -- burnt earth,
new as the steam which lifts from it.
They say he is the ugly god
All of them so perfect!
I get tired of my own smooth face,
and all the cheeks like apples in a row.
He has the lava, the always-fed fire.
One touch and you'd know.
For one thing, he's well-tooled, capisci?
And what stamina! Millennia
after millennia he never stops,
his tongue slipped to nipple tip ooh!
The man is hot! His love explodes, bursts,
makes thirsts to slake and thirst
for more and more and more amore.
Just watch: under the naked moon
with the stars all thrown like dice --
a fountain of fire against the velvet sky.
Sulfur billows, pillows in the bellows
where he blows on the cauldron,
then silence
till the thunder, the boom
the boom boom

Invisible Eros

Vagabond, tumbleweed, gypsy.
You vanish all trace of yourself
before you even arrive.
I pray to you:
do you hear me?
Come back.
In light this time.
Let me see your smooth
downed body, your skin
of spice and umber.
Your eyes must be
the color of water.
I'll sink in their seas.
I'll study and study
your pupil.
Your scent lingers,
musk of temples.
Come back
with your blindfold, then.
Your skin is enough.
Prick my skin
with arrow's point,
tender to the quiver.
My desire is thick as molasses.
My mouth is filled with rain.
We will buzz to the same plucked note.
Vulcan will bake at our feast:
wine and truffles,
blood-soaked raspberries.
I know it is love
that turns us into gods.

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