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tearing the rag off the bush again
The Red Hours of Don Jose Torres-Tama PDF E-mail
Inside Nocturnal New Orleans, excerpts:

Red Hours

I can still taste the sweat
dripping on my tongue from her frantic breasts.
The scent on my hand is a distant food,
wings of memory drop these precise pearls
of each faint second I remember.
It cuts through me like Venetian glass.
Her oyster lips follow me above the moonlit night
with green eyes crashing into dawn.
Blonde Appalachian appetite and hips with a vocabulary
of repeated base conviction,
"Why else are we here?"
I was reluctant to wash in fear
of loosing her to the habits of grooming.
Nobody saw and nobody heard.
Not even music was wasted in foreplay.
It began with our mouths, hungry and drunk,
desperate hands and fingers with eyes
slipping across the skin like baby snakes
at play in the garden before objective opinions.
Coming and forgetting in a time of plague,
a sort of 14th century epidemic gripped our new world
with protracted fear of animal lust.
She smiled offering this plastic covenant,
genius and simple, orgasmic low technology.
Redemption is a promise in the morning.
Mortality stood erected and convinced
in its sentinel duty, a stranger on fire
with my hand in the furnace of vaginal truth,
the conquistador smile that comes with a man.
Humped over an oval rug covering dark wood
in the heart of a slave quarter womb
with alcohol and smoking becoming familiar.
Tales of anxiety when she was a wife,
but now on her way back to the labyrinth,
naked and new with a stack of words
out to attack the patriarchy
and make statues of us all.

Bohemios Nocturnos

los bohemios nocturnos son de otra vida
de un conocer lejano
de amores torturados con amantes extranjeros
y poemas sin razón
de corazones desesperados en la hora abandonada
y sin trabajo regular
de gritos por la media noche regañando al sol desaparecido
y de miedo a la gordura escondida en lo familiar
y contra ovejas comiendo el conocido
los bohemios nocturnos son de ramas salvajes
buscando sabiduría en el dibujo abstracto
y la frase embarazada
los bohemios nocturnos son infelices
son almas viejas combatiendo el pasado
huérfanos en la cara de dios
no se lo deseo a nadie ser bohemio nocturno como yo

Nocturnal Bohemians

Nocturnal bohemians are from another galaxy
of knowledge from afar
of tortured affairs with foreign lovers
of poems void of reason
of desperate hearts in an abandoned hour
nocturnal bohemians are without daily jobs
of midnight screams at a missing sun
and fears of growing fat in the familiar
they are unlike sheep who eat the known
nocturnal bohemians are born from savage roots
seeking wisdom in abstract designs
and pregnant phrases left alone
they are infidels
old souls fighting off the past
orphans in the face of God
I do not wish upon any soul
to be nocturnal bohemian like my own

Lauren in Three Parts:

1. Lauren of blue eyes and absinthe pleasures

Illegal as it was back then, Absinthe had been her best friend and still available in the old Quarter when she was a feral teen, like almost anything else in New Orleans, but in modest amounts.  However, Heineken beers in a good quantity in the latter 20th century could inspire similar green fairy hallucinations for her to entertain his advances.  Between them, six bottles had been consumed, and their conversation was crossing into uncharted licentious territory, as they each had respectively conspired.

“I’ve been a caged animal for too long.  Are you willing to contend with my release?” she questioned him with a directness borne of a woman who had not entertained a lover for some time.

“I am willing to try,” he responded.  “I can bring you cooked meals after school, sealed in plastic to preserve their taste, and I can offer you Swiss Chocolates for dessert, along with my extra-curricular services for a complete dining experience.”

“I am suppose to be in my sexual prime at present, but I may be accused of cradle snatching if I take up your offer,” she countered, contesting the May/December distance of their years.

“Well, in my twenties, I am supposedly at some male peak for stamina to be able to match the cravings of your ageless hunger.”

“You are making the promises of a virile candidate.  Perhaps, we can only hope that you are up for it, amigo.”

“Are you calling me amigo, Ms. Gringa, as an endearing term or to be sarcastic?  I am not that fond of such a tricky moniker.  Unless, I choose to be your amigo.”

“Pourquoi?” she asked in a playful tone.

“Parce que je ne suis pas un idiot, mon cher, y Estos juegos son peligrosos,” he warned without translation.  

“Oui, bon,” she chirped back, and without any further hesitation, he rolled into her with a swift lifting of her dress, ripping her fragile white-laced cotton underwear while he frantically unzipped.  Her thin frame wrapped around him with a fierce grip of smoothly shaved Clinique-creamed legs that had been cared for as only a southern belle knows.  Her black fishnets caught the edge of the bed frame and tore dramatically.  She had prepared her apparel well for a slow unveiling.

They collapsed onto her queen-size mattress that occupied the center of her bedroom.  Her bed was a poet’s shrine to worship Aphrodite, but it had been barren of a man’s company.  Their entwined bodies had moved like a hurricane gust from her parlor, past the double doors into her boudoir with a lustful urgency she had not known in the past five years.  She had resigned herself to Emily Dickenson poetry books and bottles of Heineken alone.  Her previous lover had failed her and was not capable of any outbursts of unfettered passion.  She had been trapped in her head with a body aching to be touched—even for one night by a man-boy almost half her years.

Suddenly, she was enjoying the myriad abstract patterns of her paint-chipped ivory ceiling while he attempted to land them in the apartment below with a beating of bodies she had never thought possible.  The violent desire he displayed was almost frightening.  She absorbed a pounding worth at least a few new poems, but she began to seriously consider whether the floorboards of her nearly two hundred year old Decatur Street apartment on the edge of the Quarter could sustain such ferocity.  

Half an hour passed until he was done, releasing a scream that she had to help muffle by shoving a pillow to his mouth.  To contain her eruptions, she had asked him to cover her mouth with his palms, and had drawn a trickle of blood from his right hand.  Possessed in pleasure, it appeared as if they were trying to kill each other.  She imagined the gay couple downstairs applauding the feat because they knew how long it had been since any moans of this nature were heard from her bedroom, especially on a school night.    

She rewarded his spirited force with an allowance of a string of visits that lasted eleven nights straight, and she began writing again after each withdrawal, when he rested long enough before she challenged him again with another dare to replicate his previous performance.  Amigo man/boy was certainly living up to his mythic resume as a Latino lover from the planet mucho sexo.        

On the twelfth night, she cooked him a savory curry of spinach, potatoes, mushrooms, and tofu.  Later, she feathered his body with her blondish-turning-slightly-gray hair.  For dessert, she had him begging for mercy with mouth maneuvers she had been waiting to divulge to that special hombre he had become.

On the thirteenth night, they willingly chose not to see each other for fear of hexing their romance.  To temper their mutual obsession, they did not even call one another by phone.  On the fourteenth night, he came unannounced, ringing her bell before midnight of what would have been a second night of sleeping apart.

Once he entered through her hallway door, they absorbed each other with dedicated details like a lustful existential poem, where a semi-suicidal Sylvia Plath meets Pablo Neruda in his erotic prime.

2. From eleven days in August to a memorable September

It was the early morning school-preparation ritual that he loved to interrupt.  Just when she was brushing her teeth, he would trace his tongue from her ankles while on all fours, playing her savage.  After only a month, his tongue had traversed almost every centimeter of her petite frame, and he was licking a route up to her thighs.  He was intent on making indelible markings to her body and memory on this early September day.  

While looking up from his knees, facing her back, he recited the opening line of a poem he had written across her belly with her red lipstick pencil the night before, “The body remembers the physical scars and metaphorical etchings of pain and pleasure.”  In that playful mood, she had also allowed him to draw a bull’s-eye target on her buttocks, which she had forgotten about.  

While at her secretary’s desk, she tried to contain her laughter at the absurdity of going over the many individual professors’ curriculums when an hour before she was hunched over her bathroom basin, panting uncontrollably.  

In remembering, her whole being quivered momentarily.  A new beast had been forged with cries that birthed her into an alternative domain, and she imagined herself tattooed to his flesh.  Whereas she had played the master in the relationship, calling all the positions because of her advantage in years, power had been transferred.  Every push further unlocked another level of intimate depravity.  No one could ever know of this act—not even her diary.  She had kept vivid accounts of each of their first eleven August nights together, but this was unmentionable.

She had feared such stages, and only thought of this affair as a novice excursion, nothing more than a serendipitous delight for May/December summer unions, which were to vanish in a flash as winter drew.  But in her throbbing mind, this unexpected intrusion sealed a newer closeness.  

No one had ever been allowed this much control.

With her eyes flickering madly like car headlights turning on and off, she glanced at the mirror above the faux marble sink, catching their crashing bodies.  It provided a clear picture of all the facial expressions that possessed him.  He had become a brown Minotaur with horns protruding from the two corners of his forehead.  She knew all along his desire was unnatural.  She was the fawn.  They were a sight of sculptural myth in a bathroom fogging with the heat created by the violent friction of their relenting bodies.  His Mestizo copper brown color against her fair freckled Irish tone only added to the compositional contrast.       

He grunted, cursed, and howled like a wolf with his head arched to the ceiling when he finally finished.  She was on the verge of passing out, gasping to fill her lungs with air.  Hunched over her and soaked in primal perspiration, his sinewy arms enveloped her waist with a delicate hold, like a boy attached to his whore mother.  Her body was slippery.  The ritual had lasted twenty-five minutes exactly because the red numbers on the digital clock turned to 8AM when she first felt his tongue clearing a path.  

In filmic slow motion with a number of loving kisses peppering her upper back in the shape of a cartoon heart, he began the separation.  Their bodies unlocked, and each offered a low groan characterized by pain and pleasure.  A thin puddle of sweat had formed around the contours of their feet, and they had to negotiate the tile floor with some caution.  As if sleepwalking, they both approached the singular air-conditioner unit in the adjacent parlor bedroom.  At full blast, they stood before it with their eyes closed, holding hands in silence and suspended in a state of utter exhaustion.  Feeing like they had each run five miles, their knees were hardly up to the task of holding their respective weight.  After five minutes, their naked bodies were dry and trembling with a minor chill.    

She had to compose herself and ready the clothes she was going to wear.  It was a composition of school-day trivialities to manage, and he had to drive her uptown to get her there on time.  It took her ten minutes to dress, and it took him fifteen minutes to deposit her at the side entrance to her office, making speed up Claiborne Avenue to Audubon Place.  He knew the route well by now.  

It was 8:55AM.  They had five minutes to spare and used three of them in a make out session inside the car.  

“You’re making a naughty schoolgirl out of me.”

“Then, I’ll have to persuade you to play hooky one of these days.”  His red horns glowed to a dark magenta.


She stepped out of the car, and placed her flat opened right palm on his windshield, leaving her five-digit imprint to accompany him back home.  She always said goodbye with this gesture, and he was enamored with her delicate act.  Indeed, she was a poet.  She turned towards the red brick building where she would play the reserved Theatre Department administrator for the next eight hours.  
It was a different Friday, but she had to concentrate to keep her mind on the tedious customs of her regular job.  She was inspired to write on her breaks and was trying to curb her cravings for more of him.   She fantasized him hiding underneath her desk, meandering his tongue inside her floral summer skirt, while she made mundane statements such as, “it’s almost ready to review,” and “it has been placed in the out box,” to the teachers parading dutifully across her office.  

They had no idea of the life she was leading beneath her desk.

3. Lauren of the intoxicated heart

Lauren was a porcelain bird, seemingly as fragile as the snow he remembered in New Jersey winters, but she could be a ball of jealous wildfire when she imagined herself betrayed.  He had no such plans, but he needed to get back to his drawing studio.  His first solo exhibition was only six months away.  

He had devoted much of the last three months nurturing this fervor between them into what appeared to be a healthy relationship.  They were a hit all over the New Orleans art scene, an inspiration to the intergenerational possibilities that they exemplified.  

Fifteen years between them, but she did not appear to be a day over thirty.  Her beauty was simply ageless.  She had the body of a twenty-two year old dancer, the wit of a crone, and the sexual appetite of Aphrodite incarnate.  

She was inspired by his unwavering dedication to his art, but an unexplainable possession of his spirit began to consume her.  This campaign had transformed her heart.  She was kindling a mad obsession; an untamable lust was continuously tickling the light blonde hairs of her inner thighs.  It was a kind of want that had been dormant for almost a decade.  On more than a few occasions she had been close to suicide before his sudden arrival.    

She developed an unhealthy addiction for his presence and his sex.  When she drank, her Heinekens in six, she imagined he was cheating on her with a younger woman.  Religiously, he called her from his home studio to soothe her fears, to let her know he was just drawing, petitioning the creative spirits of the night as was his custom.  He was by himself, drawing to Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring and the trio of Edit Piaf cassettes he had purchased in Paris seven summers before.   

When he finally finished working enough on a particular new drawing, resolving the compositional challenges, and the rough drafting of figures, he would drive the five blocks to her house and enter her bed at 3AM.  Decatur Street was a silent corridor of early morning night.  Only the ghosts and other lonely souls were hiding in the shadows.   

Opening her door quietly with his key copy, he would always startle her at first.  As he turned her over, she welcomed him with heartfelt moans.  Each time it was getting easier to have him dominate her in her dreams.  She wanted to be an all fours for him.  Only he had the right.  She was to be his only muse.

But her heart became an intoxicated labyrinth concocting false scenarios of betrayals that only lived in her drunken head.  When he visited, she would look to smell if other women had left their scent on his body.  He had to love her with a primal wrath just to calm her nerves, and he did.  He had to bathe her with a hundred baby kisses across every centimeter of her flesh, and he did.  He had to tell her in Spanish, French, and English that he belonged to her and only her, and he did.   

It worked until she drank again.

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