I’m trying to learn how to write within parameters – how to follow a structure. I told this to one of my friends, and he told me to write a poem about oral sex that had three lines followed by a rhyming couplet. A little specific, if you ask me, but I followed directions.
sometimes both the men i love
stand in the same room, touch
sometimes they take bits of food
from each other’s plates, order
the same dessert.
i want to take both their hearts
lower them into a glass jar,
fill the empty space with honey.
two years and i will break the seal.
there will only be one left.
the other heart will have dissolved
like salt in warm water.
the dog watches us have sex
from the bottom of the bed.
you roll each nipple
between your fingers like
corn kernels. luckily
they do not stick in your teeth
the same way. when my head
dents the plaster instead of meeting pillow,
you laugh like a bulb burning out.
the dog looks as if he might ask a question
but decides better of it.
Cambodia swallowed him like a pill
washed him down with ocean water –
mixed with sticky Khmer noodles,
Amok and curried vegetables hot
as equator sun – settled in the country’s
great belly, and some days still
it was hard to stomach him.
two months in the jungle country
in a one room apartment
with a woman, skin like split lychee
he peels fruit with his hands and
next day she is back for more.
six months of stripped fruit flesh and
she tells him, you fed me so much mango
i am growing one inside me.
his knees buckle beneath palm wine,
he climbs out of his skin
to bear the summer heat.
they drink cool broth from yesterday’s
noodle soup, lick salt from upper lips.
papaya skins the size of a baby
pile up in the sink.
when he talks to the life insurance agent on the phone,
she questions his propensity for risk:
do you smoke cigarettes? how many drinks
per week? how often do you exercise?
the chalk coated fingers of his left hand start
to finger the toothbrush that lives in the pocket
of his suit jacket.
do you regularly engage in activities like surfing,
downhill skiing, skydiving?
the dark tweed tugged across his shoulders
hides the dampness beneath his arms,
he twists his body as if trying to turn
off a leaky faucet.
would you consider yourself to be a risk taker?
he tugs the neck of his sweater and pulls
at his overgrown eyebrows.
the next day in lecture he tells his students
about his call with the insurance agent.
he dubs himself risk averse, cautious;
he leaves out the unstoppable leaking,
the spasms he feels in his thighs
when he repeats the words sky diving aloud.
two weeks asleep and the skin
has begun to part on leg-backs like
little toothless mouths leaking
onto satin sheets.
three months asleep and now made of mouths:
a chorus of gummy oozing things sucking
at the sheets. some start to grin,
flapping open like gills gasping.
six months asleep and thigh muscles begin
to dissolve like sugar, hot ’n sticky
mattress stains. bits of tendon settle
into fabric folds, an ulna lays
in pooling liquid like a popsicle stick.
two years ‘neath gossamer garments,
dress dried, draped barren over bones.
still a shadow of the body: dark like syrup.
I: ask for more water, explain my lips
are splitting and I have sucked down
an entire tube of chapstick today.
He: returns from the kitchen empty
handed, tongue wet from the tap,
offers to lick my dry lips for me.