FOUR POEMS by Alexander Duringer
Where the poet is, everything
glows: red-capped forehead,
peppered beard. He holds a torch
to frozen streets that truss his lines,
writes temptations of the pool
glazed by a boy, bright & soft.
He traces new constellations
into moles on the backs of men
asleep upon his stomach. In one
of his failures he drank
blood from the fountain of a god’s
absent head, wrote of its stooped father,
starved with worry, feral-mouthed
as he scraped into the son’s muscled back,
the way one undresses an orange.
Here, concealed, a question mark–
the curved neck of a blue heron
I’ve observed unfold its canopy above
a pond, stilt legs still, in the water.
The shade it made lulled ducklings
onto its spear that pierces me,
too, & may swallow me whole.
The night breeze is so clear &
I could not hear my father
through the trees. He liked to fly
kites with me–Labatt
in one hand, string in the other.
He held the cool can to my lips
when I tripped. Blood mottled
in my mother’s hands & I can hear
a child scream. I am glad
he is alive. I have said
goodnight to many moons
& will become a squirrel with its nut
& bury this one, too, lose
its scent & starve. Now the wind has
quieted, the child’s tears are dirty
streaks as parentheses of bodies
cleave together, legs tangled
like crashed kites. Those rainbow
calamities. Jesus christ, so many lines.
The Queer’s Epithalamium
There I am, in the broken swan’s neck
of a pocket square & bridesmaids’ navy
blue at the ends of all
the photographs. I walked the couple’s pug
down the aisle. A little joke
that made aunts on both sides say, Aw. It wheezes
with me in one photo with confetti
& champagne. My boyfriend wasn’t invited.
You don’t mind, right? Who would he talk to?
& it’s a hundred a head. I try to resist
the word, faggot, in poems. How trite,
but that’s what the groom called me, cock in hand,
spraying piss at the urinal, eyes on my lips.
I sat on everything
when I learned how men came together:
yellow squash from the fridge,
plunger handles, my
fingers buried inside to push
& rub, slick
with the medicine cabinet’s vaseline
in search of that tender
walnut, its nerves & lobes,
shucked snake fruit. Subtle
with age. It’s a rude
subway passenger who spreads legs
& clogs pipes; little pleasure,
little tyrant, Caligula
at war with the Tyrrhenian Sea
atop his senator horse.
A doctor once examined me
with latex gloves. His left
hand’s index finger jabbed
so hard that I bleated clear,
involuntary, ejaculate. The bruised
bit pulsed later like a larval sac. Too bad
my brother might never see his
as more than the lisping shadow
in a noir who reaches
his effete fist toward
a pistol on the nightstand.
Within me, you
explored its puppet-mastery
over my body’s parts. Mouths & tongues
formed new vowels.
Toes curled as you made
its strings move my palm along
your cheek; pressed against that uncut
diamond hidden so deep
some might assume it was ashamed.