Loquitur: En Bertrans de Born. Dante Alighieri put this man in hell for that he was a stirrer-up of strife. Eccovi! Judge ye! Have I dug him up again? The scene in at his castle, Altaforte. "Papiols" is his jongleur. "The Leopard," the device of Richard (Cúur de Lion). I Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace. You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let's to music! I have no life save when the swords clash. But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson, Then howl I my heart nigh mad with rejoicing. II In hot summer have I great rejoicing When the tempests kill the earth's foul peace, And the lightnings from black heav'n flash crimson, And the fierce thunders roar me their music And the winds shriek through the clouds mad, opposing, And through all the riven skies God's swords clash. III Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash! And the shrill neighs of destriers in battle rejoicing, Spiked breast to spiked breast opposing! Better one hour's stour than a year's peace With fat boards, bawds, wine and frail music! Bah! there's no wine like the blood's crimson! IV And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson. And I watch his spears through the dark clash And it fills all my heart with rejoicing And pries wide my mouth with fast music When I see him so scorn and defy peace, His lone might 'gainst all darkness opposing. V The man who fears war and squats opposing My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson But is fit only to rot in womanish peace Far from where worth's won and the swords clash For the death of such sluts I go rejoicing; Yea, I fill all the air with my music. VI Papiols, Papiols, to the music! There's no sound like to swords swords opposing, No cry like the battle's rejoicing When our elbows and swords drip the crimson And our charges 'gainst "The Leopard's" rush clash. May God damn for ever all who cry "Peace!" VII And let the music of the swords make them crimson! Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash! Hell blot black for always the thought "Peace!"
“Hands down, mustard
is the tastiest condiment,” coughed Professor Plum—
his full mouth feigning hunger for the greens-
only sandwiches Mrs. White
laid out for Mr. Boddy’s guests. Miss Scarlet
hadn’t time to peel off her peacoat
before the no-frills food, which she declined, and a pre-cocktail
cocktail, which she accepted. Colonel Mustard
refused all fare, citing the risk of sullying his scarlet
and gold Marine Corps suit, then ate the sugarplums
that happenchanced his pockets like lint. Mrs. White
funneled the motley crew into the green-
house, where Mr. Green
was rumoring—his hand bridging his mouth to Mrs. Peacock’s
ear in an effort to convince the white-
haired heiress that the sandwich-making maidservant must’ve
poisoned their plum
wine. Mr. Boddy’s award-winning scarlet
runners initially amused Miss Scarlet,
the way one is amused by another with the same name. Mr. Green
thought it odd Mr. Boddy didn’t show, told Professor Plum
as much. “Here we are, pretty as peacocks,
and our host is nowhere to be found,” twirling his mustache
like the villain in a silent black and white.
Minutes into the conservatory tour, Mrs. White
introduced Mr. Boddy, who lay facedown in a scarlet-
berried elder. “This man,” Colonel Mustard
said, “is dead. I know death, even when it’s camouflaged by greenery.”
The discovery proved too much for Mrs. Peacock’s
she fainted into the arms of Professor Plum.
When she came to, he appeared to her the way a white
knight would look to a distressed damsel. Semiconscious, Mrs. Peacock
pointed to the deceased’s pet Scarlet
Tanager perched on a lead pipe between the body and a briefcase gushing green-
backs. Right away, Colonel Mustard
mustered up an alibi about admiring Mr. Boddy’s plumerias.
Mr. Green followed suit with his own white-
washed version involving one Miss Scarlet and a misdemeanor plea copped…
“Dinner is served,” said Mrs. White,
inviting Mr. Boddy’s guests by their noms de plume
into the dining room for a precooked
reheated repast. Miss Scarlet
passed the pickings, which didn’t pass muster,
to a rather ravenous Mr. Green.
Nobody faked affability better than Mr. Green,
waving his napkin like a white
flag, acting out the conquered in Colonel Mustard’s
combat stories. Here was Professor Plum’s
chance to charm a certain lady, catching what he called scarlet
fever. “I’ve seen more convincing peacocking
from a tadpole,” quipped Mrs. Peacock,
retiring to the library, green
tea in hand and a tickled Miss Scarlet
in tow. Mr. Boddy’s absence was so brazen it bred white
noise not even tales of exemplum
heroism, narrated by and starring Colonel Mustard,
could quiet—his presence, by all accounts, as keen as mustard
and showy as a pride of peacocks.
Like a boy exiled to his room, Professor Plum
excused himself, giving the others the green
light to do the same. Mrs. White
was in the kitchen scouring skillets
when she heard who she thought was Miss Scarlet
scream. Mr. Boddy’s musty
old library was a crime scene, his final fall on this white-
knuckle ride towards death. “For the dead,” Mrs. Peacock
said, “the grass is greener
on the side of the living.” While plumbing
Mr. Boddy’s body for clues, Professor Plum
found no visible wound—the would-be host appeared scarless,
despite blood haloing his head on the shagreen
rug and a bloodstained candlestick Colonel Mustard
recognized from dinner. Mrs. Peacock
avoided the sight, turning white
as the sheet with which Mrs. White covered the corpse. Plum
sick of the “poppycock” accusations, she sped into the starlit
night in a ragtop mustang belonging to Mr. Green.
Soon my father will lose his wedding ring but before that happens we take the path along the cliff-edge past the sign that says Danger: Keep Back because the waves below have undermined it, and the next big storm will be enough to bring the whole face down. I know this but I can’t help looking down and noticing how each wave throws a ring of pretty foam that’s nothing like a storm round fallen rocks forming a sort of path for someone who might find themselves below which no one ever would, my father says. It’s much too dangerous, my father says, new rock-falls any time might tumble down and injure them, and while the sea below looks calm, a quickly-rising tide would ring and terrify them, devastate the path, then drown them just as surely as a storm. I hear him out about the calm and storm and fall in line with everything he says, continuing along the cliff-top path until it leads us in a zig-zag down onto the sea-shore where a wormy ring of sand recalls the tunneling below. My father says the North Sea is below freezing almost, thanks to a recent storm, and so he eases off his wedding ring because the cold is bound to shrink, he says, his fingers, and his ring would then slip down and vanish like the dangerous cliff path. He turns around to see once more the path, the dizzy fall, the rocks, the waves below. He thinks his only choice is to set down on one stone of the many that the storm has carried from their North Sea bed, which says a lot about the power of storms, his ring. It slides down out of sight as though the storm has also switched his path to run below. This neither of us says. He never finds his ring.
sour heat of the taxicab my thighs stuck by sweat to the leather in the aperture of the sunless hours i sit scarved in the quiet that i think will protect me i’ve spent days inside & untouched by human noise & i forget the lesson in the old hurts that mark my kneaded body & sometimes i do not even register the hands that steer the vehicle the man from which they protrude until his eyes in the mirror hook the light & i see his want thrusting into the backseat a leer scraping like a fingernail along my skin dumb prey shut in the cage with its wolf while his looking catalogs my edible parts gleaming in stripes by the streetlights & hushed in brief sanctuary by the dark & the silence i’ve gathered will throb when he asks is this where you live & i work to keep my face unchanged & maybe sometime in the dimming past i was still unmarked my girlhood body unoccupied by warning its curiosity still free to extend to a strange or recognized hand engineering an unfamiliar ache before my shame became my native tongue became the sovereign of my flesh i had my milkteeth smiled green as a seedling in photographs in their silence i was pure & cloistered & i did not yet need to take inventory for my body to feel like mine the driver’s eyes displace me & leave behind a list of ways i can be hurt of all the places i am a door its use unaltered by my yes or no outside the streetlights change to a bridge’s trusses & i say nothing the car points into a borough not my own while i watch the distance swell between my watching & the slab of girl fastened to the backseat useless little carcass so faraway in her smallness & already going missing already bored by pain & sometimes even those whose touch i choose who mean me only tenderness will with their smell or voice or a trick of the light or the faintest touch of an index finger trip the latch that lets me out to the space above my peeled & emptied rind when i return i tell this to my lover who braids himself to me & makes me new who takes into his mouth my broken name & in an exhale of smoke it emerges weathered but complete & still mine until i remake myself from stillness & drape myself in the life of a different girl rupture smoothed over like the noiseless surface of a lake & in the taxi i look out to the evening’s copper bruising i give directions i push away his looking & feel my body reinflate i dial my lover’s voice the car points homeward & my old panic melts back into its archive when he fills the backseat with sound & maybe i can be reborn as a girl who does not go missing a girl someone will look for no longer the decorative husk men make me with their want the quiet shrinks & i come unstuck from the leather i come unstuck from my hurts pay my fare & debark the car untouched my home protrudes like a lighthouse from the night i settle the body mine to register
Ethel Freeman's body sat for days in her wheelchair outside the New Orleans Convention Center. Her son Herbert, who had assured his mother that help was on the way, was forced to leave her there once she died. Gon’ be obedient in this here chair, gon’ bide my time, fanning against this sun. I ask my boy, and all he says is Wait. He wipes my brow with steam, says I should sleep. I trust his every word. Herbert my son. I believe him when he says help gon’ come. Been so long since all these suffrin’ folks come to this place. Now on the ground ’round my chair, they sweat in my shade, keep asking my son could that be a bus they see. It’s the sun foolin’ them, shining much too loud for sleep, making us hear engines, wheels. Not yet. Wait. Lawd, some folks prayin’ for rain while they wait, forgetting what rain can do. When it come, it smashes living flat, wakes you from sleep, eats streets, washes you clean out of the chair you be sittin’ in. Best to praise this sun, shinin’ its dry shine. Lawd have mercy, son, is it coming? Such a strong man, my son. Can’t help but believe when he tells us, Wait. Wait some more. Wish some trees would block this sun. We wait. Ain’t no white men or buses come, but look—see that there? Get me out this chair, help me stand on up. No time for sleepin’, cause look what’s rumbling this way. If you sleep you gon’ miss it. Look there, I tell my son. He don’t hear. I’m ’bout to get out this chair, but the ghost in my legs tells me to wait, wait for the salvation that’s sho to come. I see my savior’s face ’longside that sun. Nobody sees me running toward the sun. Lawd, they think I done gone and fell asleep. They don't hear Come. Come. Come. Come. Come. Come. Come. Ain’t but one power make me leave my son. I can’t wait, Herbert. Lawd knows I can’t wait. Don’t cry, boy, I ain’t in that chair no more. Wish you coulda come on this journey, son, seen that ol’ sweet sun lift me out of sleep. Didn’t have to wait. And see my golden chair?
Scrolling through the at-the-limit list of names,
I’m caught unaware: my phone displays a friend
I’ll never be able to call again.
Now that all that’s left of her are memories
I can’t delete her entry, it seems too final,
as if it would erase our entire past together.
Phones are democratic: jumbled together
are lovers and colleagues, name after name
in alphabetical order. It was she who finally
convinced me to get a phone; the day my friend
and I went to buy it is still a vivid memory:
I was having one of those lapses of memory;
not long before, he and I had spent the night together.
We run into him on the street; both he and my friend
expect an introduction, but I’ve forgotten his name.
I’ve now forgotten so many boys; only their names
remain, stored in my phone’s memory.
Those I can delete, but not my friend’s.
It’s as if all that remains of our friend-
ship is this metonymy of her name
on a SIM-card full of memories and names.
translated by Ezra Pound
The firm wishing that gets ingress
To my heart fears no cad's beak or nail-tip
Of cad who by false speech doth lose his soul's hope,
And if I dare assail him not with bough or osier
On quiet I, where one admits no uncle,
Will get my joy in garden or in bower.
When I remember the bower
Where to my spite I know that no man gets ingress,
But do no more than may brothers and uncles,
I tremble all length, all save my nail-tips,
As does a child before a switch of osier,
So fear I lest I come not near my soul's hope.
Of body 'twas not of soul's hope
That consenting she hid me in her bower.
Now it hurts my heart worse than strokes of osiers
That where she now is, her slave gets no ingress.
I cling mam to her as is the flesh to the nail-tip
And take warning of neither friend nor uncle.
Ne'er love I sister of uncle
As I love her I love, by my soul's hope.
Close cling I as doth the finger to nail-tip
And would be, and it please her, in her bower;
Love that in my heart gets ingress
Can shake me, as strong man not an osier.
Since flower sprang on dry osier,
Since Adam began this line of nephews and uncles,
Such fine love as to my heart hath ingress
Was not to my belief in body or soul's hope.
If she be in piazza nor bower,
My heart leave not by a nail-tip.
The heart roots and clings like the nail-tip
Or as the bark clings that clings to the osier,
For she is joy's palace, she is joy's bower,
Nor love I so father, nor kinsman, nor kind uncle.
Double joy in Paradise, by my soul's hope,
Shall I have if ere true love there win ingress.
Arnaut sends the song of nail and uncle
With thanks to her the soul of his osier,
Son Dezirat, who to some purpose hath ingress in bower.
blonde fair bleached faded pale pastel light
blameless clean innocent guiltless pure clear
anatomy build figure person physique form
complexion countenance hue mien tint cast
bead dab dash ounce iota spot trace drop
succeed qualify answer do suffice suit pass
authorization permit ticket license paper visa pass
effortless facile moderate smooth undemanding light
abandon dismiss disown quit reject renounce drop
jump leap hurdle negotiate surmount vault clear
actors artists characters company players roles cast
behavior manner conduct custom practice rite form
arrange assemble concoct create devise forge form
cross depart flow go move proceed travel pass
copy duplicate facsimile mold plaster replica cast
amusing gay merry blithe pleasing witty light
accumulate gain acquire net realize secure clear
decrease decline downturn reduction slump drop
bleed dribble leak ooze seep splash trickle drop
character class grade make species variety form
audible lucid coherent distinct plain precise clear
canyon cut gap gorge path opening ravine pass
airy buoyant delicate feathery unsubstantial light
emit radiate diffuse spray spread scatter cast
appoint assign designate choose name pick cast
abyss chasm descent dip plunge precipice drop
angle approach aspect attitude slant viewpoint light
application sheet chart questionnaire blank form
advance overture proposition approach play pass
absolute convinced decided satisfied sure clear
bare empty free stark vacant vacuous void clear
boot fling heave hurl launch project toss cast
predicament crisis contingency plight state pass
collapse duck flop tumble pitch plummet drop
format framework order scheme structure form
beacon bulb dawn flash ray shine torch light
model pattern fashion form appearance contour cast
luminous radiant clear sunny ablaze aglow light
ebb fade wane depart drop end die decease pass
—after nella larsen
Before, we pictured her without diamonds,
Without sequined gowns and a face of paint.
We could see that this show was not the time
For a lithe St. Louis girl of her race
To flaunt her flanks in front of New York men.
How could she expect us to find applause,
When we had saved to throw coins of applause
To Fanny Brice1, our star, a diamond
On a stage of lights? Besides, what these men
Wanted was a dream well drawn beyond paint,
Not a life-size black doll flaunting her race
And wares as if this were her place and time.
Parisian and brown? This was not the time
For a poor Negro girl to find applause
When she had given up her one true race—
America—for filthy France. Diamonds
Draped from her neck and ears, but even paint
Chips on the wrong surface. A street woman
Posing as a lady—please. Petty men
Could appreciate her dance, which was timed
To a beat of rags and old iron. Paint
The picture true, and let’s save the applause
For patriots—Eve Arden, a diamond,
And Bob Hope, a charm—not this girl with race
On her hips and tongue. The spice of race
Can be sweet or tart; the lips of the man
Who tastes will be surprised. To think diamonds
Will clear the palate is a waste of time.
Sure, we gave Princess Tam Tam2 an applause,
Even if she mumbled through songs and paint,
Even when she would cry and run her paint,
We listened. This is not about her race
But her choice of song, her need for applause
That would outshine Fanny Brice. Any man
Would give her a break, but the place and time
Was not this night. Yes, Brice was our diamond.
JOSEPHINE BAKER RESPONDS:
They want bananas on hips, not diamonds
On my décolletage. I’m under the paint,
Sinews dancing through segregated time;
It’s not all about jazz or even race.
Fanny Brice’s bland version of “My Man,”3
In smoke-filled bars couldn’t steal an applause,
So how do they think she deserves applause
On Broadway under lights and with diamonds
Dangling from her dewlap? I got a man,
He stays with me when I take off the paint,
And he doesn’t care about this whole race
Hoopla; he loves Josephine for me. Time
Magazine just started taking the time
To acknowledge Negroes, and now applause
From them is supposed to predict racial
Equality on stage? Talent? Diamonds
Determine my success. They can go paint
Broadway as white as they please, all the men
On the Champs will tell you I’m the woman
By which they measure others; only Time
Had a problem with my act, when the paint
Comes off, that’s all it comes down to: applause
From friends not foes. Just look at this diamond
On my hand from my Pepito4; does race
Refract in its eye, or light? You see race
is not real, only light and love; no man,
Negro or white, can change that. The diamond
Holds so much truth because it endures time;
It struggles through nothingness for applause;
It holds its breath, dark, naked without paint
Or the benefit of believing paint
Will change things because she is the same race
As coal underneath it all. And applause
Is just some dream. At times, even my man
Who, after all, is white, doesn’t see time
And again how I’m merely a diamond
Trying to catch some light under the paint. Man,
I’m telling you, race problems will change with time,
Long after applause and this diamond’s light fades.
1 Fanny Brice, the longtime star of the Ziegfeld Follies, was known for her talents as a comedienne as well as a singer.
2 Princess Tam Tam was a film starring Josephine Baker, produced in 1935.
3 “My Man” was a popular song written by Maurice Yvain as “Mon Homme.” Later, the English lyrics were written by Channing Pollock for the Ziegfeld Follies.
4 Pepito was Josephine Baker’s fiancé from 1935–1936. He died of cancer before she completed the run of the Ziegfeld Follies.
to . . .
to . . .
well . . .
used . . .
well . . .
Decameron, x. 7
There is no woman living that draws breath
So sad as I, though all things sadden her.
There is not one upon life’s weariest way
Who is weary as I am weary of all but death.
Toward whom I look as looks the sunflower
All day with all his whole soul toward the sun;
While in the sun’s sight I make moan all day,
And all night on my sleepless maiden bed
Weep and call out on death, O Love, and thee,
That thou or he would take me to the dead,
And know not what thing evil I have done
That life should lay such heavy hand on me.
Alas, Love, what is this thou wouldst with me?
What honour shalt thou have to quench my breath,
Or what shall my heart broken profit thee?
O Love, O great god Love, what have I done,
That thou shouldst hunger so after my death?
My heart is harmless as my life’s first day:
Seek out some false fair woman, and plague her
Till her tears even as my tears fill her bed:
I am the least flower in thy flowery way,
But till my time be come that I be dead
Let me live out my flower-time in the sun
Though my leaves shut before the sunflower.
O Love, Love, Love, the kingly sunflower!
Shall he the sun hath looked on look on me,
That live down here in shade, out of the sun,
Here living in the sorrow and shadow of death?
Shall he that feeds his heart full of the day
Care to give mine eyes light, or my lips breath?
Because she loves him shall my lord love her
Who is as a worm in my lord’s kingly way?
I shall not see him or know him alive or dead;
But thou, I know thee, O Love, and pray to thee
That in brief while my brief life-days be done,
And the worm quickly make my marriage-bed.
For underground there is no sleepless bed:
But here since I beheld my sunflower
These eyes have slept not, seeing all night and day
His sunlike eyes, and face fronting the sun.
Wherefore if anywhere be any death,
I would fain find and fold him fast to me,
That I may sleep with the world’s eldest dead,
With her that died seven centuries since, and her
That went last night down the night-wandering way.
For this is sleep indeed, when labour is done,
Without love, without dreams, and without breath,
And without thought, O name unnamed! of thee.
Ah, but, forgetting all things, shall I thee?
Wilt thou not be as now about my bed
There underground as here before the sun?
Shall not thy vision vex me alive and dead,
Thy moving vision without form or breath?
I read long since the bitter tale of her
Who read the tale of Launcelot on a day,
And died, and had no quiet after death,
But was moved ever along a weary way,
Lost with her love in the underworld; ah me,
O my king, O my lordly sunflower,
Would God to me too such a thing were done!
But if such sweet and bitter things be done,
Then, flying from life, I shall not fly from thee.
For in that living world without a sun
Thy vision will lay hold upon me dead,
And meet and mock me, and mar my peace in death.
Yet if being wroth God had such pity on her,
Who was a sinner and foolish in her day,
That even in hell they twain should breathe one breath,
Why should he not in some wise pity me?
So if I sleep not in my soft strait bed
I may look up and see my sunflower
As he the sun, in some divine strange way.
O poor my heart, well knowest thou in what way
This sore sweet evil unto us was done.
For on a holy and a heavy day
I was arisen out of my still small bed
To see the knights tilt, and one said to me
“The king,” and seeing him, somewhat stopped my breath,
And if the girl spake more, I heard not her,
For only I saw what I shall see when dead,
A kingly flower of knights, a sunflower,
That shone against the sunlight like the sun,
And like a fire, O heart, consuming thee,
The fire of love that lights the pyre of death.
Howbeit I shall not die an evil death
Who have loved in such a sad and sinless way,
That this my love, lord, was no shame to thee.
So when mine eyes are shut against the sun,
O my soul’s sun, O the world’s sunflower,
Thou nor no man will quite despise me dead.
And dying I pray with all my low last breath
That thy whole life may be as was that day,
That feast-day that made trothplight death and me,
Giving the world light of thy great deeds done;
And that fair face brightening thy bridal bed,
That God be good as God hath been to her.
That all things goodly and glad remain with her,
All things that make glad life and goodly death;
That as a bee sucks from a sunflower
Honey, when summer draws delighted breath,
Her soul may drink of thy soul in like way,
And love make life a fruitful marriage-bed
Where day may bring forth fruits of joy to day
And night to night till days and nights be dead.
And as she gives light of her love to thee,
Give thou to her the old glory of days long done;
And either give some heat of light to me,
To warm me where I sleep without the sun.
O sunflower made drunken with the sun,
O knight whose lady’s heart draws thine to her,
Great king, glad lover, I have a word to thee.
There is a weed lives out of the sun’s way,
Hid from the heat deep in the meadow’s bed,
That swoons and whitens at the wind’s least breath,
A flower star-shaped, that all a summer day
Will gaze her soul out on the sunflower
For very love till twilight finds her dead.
But the great sunflower heeds not her poor death,
Knows not when all her loving life is done;
And so much knows my lord the king of me.
Aye, all day long he has no eye for me;
With golden eye following the golden sun
From rose-coloured to purple-pillowed bed,
From birthplace to the flame-lit place of death,
From eastern end to western of his way.
So mine eye follows thee, my sunflower,
So the white star-flower turns and yearns to thee,
The sick weak weed, not well alive or dead,
Trod underfoot if any pass by her,
Pale, without colour of summer or summer breath
In the shrunk shuddering petals, that have done
No work but love, and die before the day.
But thou, to-day, to-morrow, and every day,
Be glad and great, O love whose love slays me.
Thy fervent flower made fruitful from the sun
Shall drop its golden seed in the world’s way,
That all men thereof nourished shall praise thee
For grain and flower and fruit of works well done;
Till thy shed seed, O shining sunflower,
Bring forth such growth of the world’s garden-bed
As like the sun shall outlive age and death.
And yet I would thine heart had heed of her
Who loves thee alive; but not till she be dead.
Come, Love, then, quickly, and take her utmost breath.
Song, speak for me who am dumb as are the dead;
From my sad bed of tears I send forth thee,
To fly all day from sun’s birth to sun’s death
Down the sun’s way after the flying sun,
For love of her that gave thee wings and breath,
Ere day be done, to seek the sunflower.
You had me at that martini. I saw
you thread the olive’s red pimento throat
with your plastic swizzle stick, a deft act
at once delicate and greedy. A man
paid to taste the blade knows his match.
The pleasure. The brine. I wish we had time,
I said—you stopped me—There’s always time.
That’s when they called me to the stage. I saw
your mouth’s angle change as you made a match
of my name and Noted Gullet! Steel Throat!
Ramo Swami, the Sword-Swallowing Man.
I want to assure you it’s just an act,
but since age seven it’s the only act
I know. My mother recalls that first time
she caught my butter-knife trick: a real man
might not cry, but the real boy wept. She saw
my resolve to build a tunnel from throat
to feet. A dark that deep could go unmatched,
she warned. Your smile is the strike of a match,
the hope of an inner spelunking act.
Facing the crowd, the sight of your pale throat
tightens mine at the worst possible time—
that fickle tic of desire. Yeah, I saw
his last show, you’ll say. Lost focus, poor man.
Funny how women make and break their men,
how martinis both break and make a match.
The best magician will hang up his saw,
release his doves, if the right woman acts
to un-straitjacket his body in time.
If lips meet, the hint of gin in your throat
will mingle with camellia in my throat,
same oil used by any samurai man.
I trained against touch once upon a time,
not knowing a rigid pharynx would match
a rigid heart. I’m ready to react,
to bleed. As any alchemist can see,
to fill a throat with raw steel is no match
for love. Don’t clap for these inhuman acts.
Cut me in two. Time, time: the oldest saw.