Book Lovers

Each with his favored arm
made his foray
scorning confections and only sometimes opening a hand
dusted with the crushed stamen
of a hothouse orchid. Walt came bearing small sprouts
at least before his straight-up offer of crotch and vine
while against my throat, Edgar licked
glossed feather. I choked down Eliot’s ragged claws and talk
of Michelangelo, glancing against the vorpal snicker
Carroll carried unsheathed. The graze bared
blood beat and Baldwin fire going the way I dared not ache.
I had barely found my feet and certainly not my sense
when, whispering, Kazuo led me to a corner of the room
I’d never seen and there, Salman with a slow grin
esta-esta-estuttered open his voice in song.

It was not safe to be a girl alone
in their company. They pressed on, each
indifferent to rivals yet asking nothing less
than full capitulation of his quarry.

Clever Jasper tried coming inside
out, folding picture book origami into doors opening
backwards but I tumbled through a slice
of yellowed light into sweet William’s lap, his slings and arrows
only napping and that, not so soundly. Up on ladders to day
I climbed. Bryson and Sedaris cracking wise
thought for sure they’d trumped JD’s cutting youth
but he was a tougher contender than they had anticipated
and anyway, Collins was all along straddling straight-backed chair
with a boning knife slicing the gap between laugh
and shiver down to a crisp blue note. Snapping mm-hmm inside
Langston let his cats twine at my neck while under me
cummings with trembling firm-smoothness his liking how
Allan howled against the night. Fumbling at the sash,
virtue far from intact, my fingers pried open the window
in the center of my chest and I plunged through it
to the Rumi place where
everything is music.

There, landing,
belonging to whom?

Each took what they could but none took me
home. That is what the girl wants, after all.
They shrug and shamble
off. My belly growls. The spine
cracks. Tonight
the book of Him
is the only one on the shelf.
 

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