The first time he calls you holy,
you laugh it back so hard your sides hurt.
The second time,
you moan gospel around his fingers
between your teeth.
He has always surprised
you into surprising yourself.
Because he’s an angel hiding his halo
behind his back and
nothing has ever felt so filthy
as plucking the wings from his shoulders—
undressing his softness
one feather at a time.
God, if you’re out there,
if you’re listening,
he fucks like a seraphim,
and there’s no part of scripture
that ever prepared you for his hands.
Hands that map a communion
in the cradle of your hips.
Hands that kiss hymns up your sides.
He confesses how long he’s looked
for a place to worship and,
you put him on his knees.
When he sinks to the floor and moans
like he can’t help himself,
you wonder if the other angels
fell so sweet.
He says his prayers between your thighs
and you dig your heels into the base of his spine
until he blushes the color of your filthy tongue.
You will ruin him and he will thank you;
he will say please.
No damnation ever looked as cozy as this,
but you fit over his hips like they
were made for you.
You fit, you fit, you fit.
On top of him, you are an ancient goddess
that only he remembers and he
offers up his skin.
And you take it.
Who knew sacrifice was so profane?
And once you’ve taught him how to hold
your throat in one hand
and your heart in the other,
you will have forgotten every other word
except his name.
Poem by Ashe Vernon, image by me. It’s a crop from an image that I’m probably not using in the Sacred & Profane series.
If I failed, Adam,
to gratify your every whim,
look me in the eye,
ask that I leave by
blue dusk to mask the flame
of my hair, your tearful shame
only witnessed by our Sculptor
as you demand He mold another.
Make certain she is formed from you
so she will never question the true
nature of her existence,
so the only resistance
you’ll encounter is in dreams,
my hands and mouth and streams
of flaming curls, your throat choking on
my name as you roll awake at dawn.
Your lips will part to call the one you’re with
but all your heart will ever howl is Lilith.
Poem by Ciara Shuttleworth, image from my Sacred & Profane series.
I know the way that you look at me when you don’t think I’m paying attention. I know the way it takes you just a moment longer than anyone else to convince yourself to pull away, when your pinky finger is just brushing mine— battling me for something insignificant, like your Tumblr tablet, and not something significant like my heart.
I do, I do, I do know. I know with desperate awareness that by some fluke of the universe you look at me on the edge of your hotel room bed wearing a sweater designed for a younger man and you think,
And I just want to push you against the wall, I want to shove you and the way you look at me until you reach the wall, shove you until some sort of understanding is knocked into that brilliant mind and tight little body of yours.
I need it right now.
Would you listen to me? I can’t give you any more than you already have. I need it to be mine. I cannot be yours. I need my heart because it is shattered into so many pieces— pieces that ring with goodbyes and disappointments and the people who were supposed to love me.
It’s not because I don’t know the way you look at me. I know.
I don’t want the kind of love where I have to hand over all the pieces of my heart.
You think I’m extraordinary but you don’t understand, you just don’t understand, listen to me because I need you to know that I cannot crawl into the warmth of your cotton sheets and stay there because I need to build a future for myself that is so much more than that.
Someday, maybe, I won’t have so many jagged mirror pieces for you to cut yourself on, the ones that weakened me, that reflect people who never took a real look at me. And tonight I want to kiss you in the foggy shadows of some old beautiful building, but the truth is I should put myself back together more.
I need you to know that I’m not going to give you my heart—
’cause where I’m going,
… I think I’m going to need it more. I think I’d get completely lost without it. And I’m tired of being afraid.
Your god is Old. He killed children
in Egypt, murdered lovers in the night,
swept sinners dead in a righteous wave.
He told Eve she would die
if she ate the apple, knowing
that he had already planted the seed
of the tree of Knowledge inside her.
He lied. He stole. He coveted.
Just because you create something,
doesn’t make it yours.
I will not be Job. If god tries
to tear down my house, I will
not weep. I will build it up again myself,
with my own hands.
That god is not my god. I am New.
I will walk with children.
I will love and learn to swim.
I will eat apples and drink coffee
and build towers.
I will wear flowers
from that old tree
in my hair.
“Hagar waiting for Abram” – an image from a series I’m currently developing.
One of my truly personal A-Ha moments is that I’m suddenly old enough to enjoy poetry. For years I acknowledged it as some refined form of expression, and even liked the occasional poem… Especially if it was able to use language to create a space rather than simply recount a moment. But I had resigned myself to the fact that poetry was not really my thing, that I preferred the prosaic. I even dated a poet after college, but I couldn’t drop in to her words the way I do now. Maybe they were terrible, who knows… She was capable of great beauty, maybe it never reached the page.
Anyway, this one made me happy today:
“Yeah Yeah Yeah”
by Roddy Lumsden
No matter what you did to her, she said,
There’s times, she said, she misses you, your face
Will pucker in her dream, and times the bed’s
Too big. Stray hairs will surface in a place
You used to leave your shoes. A certain phrase,
Some old song on the radio, a joke
You had to be there for, she said, some days
It really gets to her; the way you smoked
Or held a cup, or her, and how you woke
Up crying in the night sometimes, the way
She’d stroke and hush you, and how you broke
Her still. All this she told me yesterday,
Then she rolled over, laughed, began to do
To me what she so rarely did with you.
A poem I found on Rattle, by Brian Trimboli:
I was young once. I dug holes
near a canal and almost drowned.
I filled notebooks with words
as carefully as a hunter loads his shotgun.
I had a father also, and I came second to an addiction.
I spent a summer swallowing seeds
and nothing ever grew in my stomach.
Every woman I kissed,
I kissed as if I loved her.
My left and right hands were rivals.
After I hit puberty, I was kicked out of my parents’ house
at least twice a year. No matter when you receive this
there was music playing now.
Your grandfather isn’t
my father. I chose to do something with my life
that I knew I could fail at.
I spent my whole life walking
and hid such colorful wings.
Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds. So sad that we will never touch again. How it hurts me to know that I will never be able to give you everything I have.
– Henry Rollins