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ISSUE:  Winter 2006

Sometimes the dominatrix simply squats above
the subservient mouth, and feeds it
like a mother bird. At other times (in other moods)
a sense of courtly ritual is called for, and
her seat-on-hollow-box is wheeled out,
so something formal and geometric is made
of the hovering, pungent gift and its hungry recipient.
He knows all about this taboo need—has never,
himself, partaken; but he knows. He’s sniffed its edges
and he’s spoken its argot. He knows
where float-heads go for their opium fix, and how
it’s prepped, and what show they allow
the rope-and-leather girls from next door to perform
(for uptown clientele) on their waxy, abandoned bodies
while their dream-life is adrift. He’s seen enough of this
to have its stink in the folds of his clothes
on the following day, and he knows what sipping use is made
of the cannulas and tampons at those ceremonial gatherings
of the Goth arm of the lycanthropes—their shared sense of community
and their preference for heraldic tableaux.
If it’s nocturnal, he knows.
If it’s a dark, dark flame, he’s beat his wings about it
to the point where just the first few fragrant molecules of singe
attest to the fact that smutch is here in the lining
of everything. If it’s sediment, he’ll want to take
his one appraising lick—and whether we voted him there
or not, he’s our ambassador: our witness.
I was visiting him; we walked around the hill land
to the north of the city. When he was a child
his mother would affectionately call him “little dirty bird.”
If only he were. He’s ashamed: he has neither the courage
nor the weakness to become that thing, in any
all-defining way. He’s something worse:
and he pointed, in demonstration: there, above the pond,
a swallow was sleeking down,
as they do, to drink while on the wing. You can see it
fifty times a day around here: the angling-in and quickening
approach of that serrated shape,
and its barely zipping a beak-trail
over the surface of the water. “See?
A skimmer.” He said it disgustedly,
despite the lustrous beauty. And, true, it doesn’t ever go
under; only low, and lower.


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