“When A Man Hasn’t Been Kissed” – Jeffrey McDaniel

When I haven’t been kissed in a long time,

I walk behind well-dressed women

on cold, December mornings and shovel

the steamy exhalations pluming from their lips

down my throat with both hands, hoping

a single molecule will cling to my lungs.

When I haven’t been kissed in a long time, 

I sneak into the ladies room of a fancy restaurant,

dig into the trashcan for a napkin

where a woman checked her lipstick,

then go home, light candles, put on Barry White,

and press the napkin all over my body.

When I haven’t been kissed in a long time,

I start thinking leeches are the most romantic

creatures, cause all they want to do is kiss. 

If only someone invented a kinder, gentler leech,

I’d paint it bright pink and pretend

Winona Ryder’s lips crawled off her face,

up my thigh, and were sucking on my swollen bicep.

When I haven’t been kissed

in a long time, I create civil disturbances,

then insult the cops who show up,

till one of them grabs me by the collar

and hurls me up against the squad car,

so I can remember, at least for a moment,

what it’s like to be touched.

“My Lavenderdom” – Sarah Maclay

—as in, pre-flutter, that kingdom of semi-purpleness— should I

say dome of— that area of anti-limp, lawless, drunk on your

fingering, unfingering— that omnivore, oh, eating now your—

even your branches, iceless, anti frozen, gazelle flying toward the

twin kingdoms of your cheekness (more at “flying buttress”),

nearly periwinkling now— that perpetrator of the semi-grunt,

grunt, instigator of the groanful demi-flood of— flutter, flutter,

post-flutter— gorge of neomauve, rich canal of sunsetish plush,

now unguardedly sub-fuschia; that private brandied eyelash

batting at you in its brashest postcool queenness, plump and

succulent as a plum—

—-The Best American Erotic Poems: From 1800 to the Present, 2008

In You The Earth – Pablo Neruda

Little,

rose,

roselet,

at times,

tiny and naked,

it seems

as though you would fit

in one of my hands,

as though I’ll clasp you to my mouth,

but

suddenly

my feet touch your feet and my mouth your lips:

you have grown,

your shoulders rise like two hills,

your breasts wander over my breast,

my arm scarcely manages to encircle the thin

new-moon line of your waist:

in love you have loosened yourself like sea water:

I can scarcely measure the sky’s most spacious eyes

and I lean down to your mouth to kiss the earth.

“Olive” – H.M. Scheppers

It seems to me like the forest will look more like this:

barren

an olive, on a toothpick

one side x, one side o

— O

how my brain feels

hollow, punctured.

With just a word,

he punctures me

an olive on a toothpick

flesh purses into an “O”

and I’m pitted

on my back—“X”

begs—hit me here,

my strong side,

but I lie mangled

among other pitted O’s 

like a bug on its back and rolling

into others, without limbs

to move freely, without,

only to roll, 

empty, blind

mouth open

O

Tell Me, Is the Rose Naked? – Pablo Neruda

Tell me, is the rose naked,

Or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal

The splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets

of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder

Than a train standing in the rain?

As Long As You’re Out There Somewhere Shining

Lines Off My Mind’s Shelf


He cut off Hunter, talking about something as we sat around the bar table—

“Will you stop that?” he said to me, smiling.

I was bopping my head as I responded to a text message on my phone. Without looking up at him, I grinned, stood up and continued dancing, spinning around to the music of the room until I pressed send. He laughed and got up too.

“Now, you’re both embarrassing me,” Hunter said.

“You have to come join us,” I said.

He stood up and we all danced solo in the empty room of the Jazz club. We were the only guests besides the man fixing the stage in the corner. The waitresses behind the bar laughed casually at our sparse entertainment. The only light in the room streamed through the front door, white, propped open to remind us of the absurdity that was us hiding in the dark during such beautiful daylight. It was 4:30pm on a Sunday, and it was happy hour. 

“All I Need” – Lines Off My Mind’s Shelf

One hand clenching a fistful of bed-hair at the back of her head. Her right hand aloft in front of her like a limp wing for balance. Her steps follow a rhythm. It is steady. But it also changes from 3/4 time to 6/8 time. Her right hip places an accent on a different quiver. 

A horn blows from the traffic flowing past.

She picks up her skirt so that her ankles can ascend the staircase. One two three, and two three. The groove changes. 

Her heel slips from her flat brown shoe and there is a rest. She quickly shifts her foot back in, slides into it and catches back up to speed.

A raven soars ahead, unmoving. Suspended. The wind picks up her hair. Limp and winged. The breath never leaves—like the beat can never leave.

“I Lick the Froth” – H. M. Scheppers

My tongue like bark,

I lick the froth from

my steamed soy milk

like the taste of Mom’s pinecone crafts.

Unlike the sap of my early days

of 2% that Mom had filled for my

jelly jar glass each dinner 

in the dining room with crystals.

Like cardboard, soy steam pours

over my tongue’s tip—

scrapes the buds, like the way 

Dad scraped buds in the backyard, 

the lawnmower chasing us 

in diagonals and cupcakes.

My mouth a dry scone,

I sip more, sipping mean,

until my tongue chars like

the night I reached for the switch

and realized Dad no longer

tucked me in.

The grand bland lather of Silk

rushes over my tongue of shingles 

until the foam slopes at the bottom

like shampoo slopping below my ear.

My tongue of pinecones, bitter and

arching for froth,

for the kitchen sink after midnight,

for a venom of milk,

for the sap of my early days.