Are you the one,/ who hates me in life,
but masturbates wildly/ in secret from your wife?
Never slut shame: whatever I might say
or do, how I love, why I love, beyond
asking you, “come to bed or stay away,”
lies my damned love. Damaged love, vagabond
love, lost love: but still love. If you can’t see
that then I’m not the damned one. “Cocks, cunts, juice
flowing freely,” as if it’s all just free.
That is both the freedom and the abuse
that these doggerel zipless fucks try to claim.
If the flesh is weak then the flesh is weak.
This is not your sweat-fuck poem. Don’t quote
boring de Sade to me, you still slut shame.
To me that’s neither wild, rare or unique.
“So, please, fuck off;” for you that’s all I wrote.
It’s curious how certain figures in history have had their names attached to things that rarely reflected who they were in life. For example, Sappho (as much as we know about her from scraps and fragments handed down over the centuries) was bisexual, at least by today’s understanding of the term. She was married to a merchant named Cercylas, had a daughter she called Celis. Despite all the wonderful love poems to women that she wrote legend has it that she killed herself by jumping off the Leucadian cliffs for her love of Phaon, a village fisherman. While in the 19th and 20th century her name has been attached to lesbianism, when Sappho wrote, “coming off heaven/ throwing off/ his purple cloak,” it was a love poem addressed to one of her male lovers. Of course the marginalization and silencing of bisexual artists in both the larger heterosexual and gay and lesbian communities is nothing new, and will continue as long as people only see the world in black and white dualism: you’re either gay or straight, there is nothing in-between, although Sappho wrote again and again, “your love can be any [gender] that the gods have chosen for you.” I would argue that all there is in this world is what’s in-between. Dualism is a myth that needs dismantling.
Donatien Alphonse François, better known as the Marquis de Sade, is another curious case. Even though he gave the world the word “sadism,” I’d rather poke my eyes out with a rusty fork than try to read what his admirers call “erotica” once again. This has nothing to do with subject matter. Yes, yes, I know he was, in theory at least, an advocate for extreme freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion or law (what hipster isn’t?) When I was in Peace Corps I brought two anthologies of his collected works with me, since he was an author I had heard a lot about but had read nothing that he had written. Sadly, when I was done, I had to conclude that de Sade is boring. He spent 32 years in prison, which was when he wrote most of his work. His writing style was to come up with an outline and every day simply rewrite and expand each paragraph until it collapsed under its own dry weight. There is no flow or poetry in his work. It has all the erotic sensibilities of a college term paper. I had made the mistake of watching Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), which updated Sade’s novel by placing it in the fascist Salò Republic during WWII. As Italian snuff films go it was horrific. When I sat down to read the novel I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to … until I started and realized it really wasn’t a novel, more like long lists of what de Sade wanted to write about if he ever got around to do so. The legend goes that he actually did write 120 Days, but when the Bastille was liberated during the French Revolution the manuscript was lost. He never got around to producing a second draft. Justine and Juliette are vaguely interesting, if you can get beyond his utter loathing of women. The only work I enjoyed was the comedy Philosophy in the Bedroom, partly because it was short but mainly because it didn’t take itself seriously. It revolves around Eugénie, a 15 year-old girl who, at the beginning of the story, is a naive virgin of all things sexual but by the end has become a depraved libertine (of course she does). “Lewd women,” de Sade writes, “be heedless of all that contradicts pleasure’s divine laws … be as quick to destroy, to spurn all those ridiculous precepts inculcated in you by imbecile parents.” I suppose if French philosophy is your aphrodisiac then de Sade’s work will be highly titillating. It certainly got Michel Foucault excited, but since I despise Michel Foucault that really isn’t a plus in my book.
Still-life with Lilith and a night-blooming
sea rose. You are hard and I’m soft with song,
with all the love born long ago from your
song. I’ve found that loving bitter sick-sweat
from any other out of the question.
What can make certain songs flame into life?
and other songs will simply drown out? Dark
One in the vast depths, I know your name but
will not speak it. I have swam with shark gods
and felt no fear. Maximus of Tyre wrote
that Sappho was “small and dark,” but Plato
called her beautiful. I’ve gone to the cliff
where she threw herself into the churning
undertow, saw how you came to claim her.
I dream of you, cameltoe and all. Blue,
blue is the sea. Red, red is your last kiss.
Green, green your first spliff and sip of vodka.
Shark-soul, spirit-lover. I love soft boys
and stone-hard women: the queen and the butch.
I love the sea rose blooming in your hair.
Ուիթմեն. Սապփո. Ներուդա.
Տաղ. Հնչեակ. Վիպերգ.
Ես գրում եմ իմ բանաստեղծությունները վրա ձեր ծլիկ.
Whitman. Sappho. Neruda.
Ode. Sonnet. Ballad.
I write my poems on your clit.
* * *
As far as I know these are the correct spellings in Armenian of these poets’ names. Պաբլո Ներուդա (Pablo Neruda), Ուոլթ Ուիթմեն (Walt Whitman) and Սապփո (Sappho).
Writing, as they say, is a gamble. We put our art out for the world to see, and then hope the reader enjoys it enough to write back. Some people find their audience right away and some never do. I have no idea where the audience for this poem is, but I am willing to take the chance that once I send it out into the void that is the Internet it will, slowly, find its way to the one who it’s intended for. And who knows? That person might even help me with my grammar, since my ability to write in Armenian is շատ վատ (very bad). Cheers!
“I love myself when I am laughing … and then again
when I’m looking mean and impressive.”
— Zora Neale Hurston
Slow, slow, all gooseflesh your cunt, I keep time
with your boisterous brassier, tongue tricking,
slower, O yes, panting, our gentle crime
of bed springs. Listen to sloppy sucking
that our adultery bears. Sappho sang
about cuckolding delights, but all we
need is a touch of the herb, your gangbang
porn and hours of fucking. You know sissy
boys know best. Let cum fall in showers, snow
upon your hills, drop, drop, drop, drop, nature’s
passion is now ours. I love your afro;
the way we cum together like geysers.
If life isn’t about cum and foreplay,
at least we can pretend during the day.
Sappho wrote: love shook me like a mountain
wind in the oaks. I’d fuck you like eagle-
god Zeus fucked Ganymede. Raging, drunken
on speed and cum, coming down, an awful
lightning bolt. I like soft boys and hard girls.
When dear Hercula won the boxing match
I crowned her with laurels, then gave the curls
over her bloodied face three kisses. Snatch
pleasure, bittersweet like myrrh, where you will.
I’ve felt lightning, wind in the oaks, all this
we call lust. But it was her broken face
that turned me on. Scars and the urge to kill.
Kiss me, love. I want to feel your rage. Kiss
me with something like a murderer’s grace.
Lily, unless the gifted Anahit
lies at your side, sleepless you must now be.
To watch a lover burn up, like mincemeat,
over No Man’s Land. How your poor empty
bed must recall the groans then moans? Again
all these odes to war. Nine muses, you say?
Sappho the Bisexual makes it ten.
Poet of Wars and Clits. Old Boss DJ
still spins your tracks. “I am what I say.” Poor
Sappho, you are bones and dust. Lily’s love
lays, burned in a field. Not even the sky
can drink up all her tears. What fool said war
was good sport? Let her grave be of foxglove,
wild plums; even bisexuals must die.