Three Poems

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Three Poems  



Strange word.

Odd thing to say of anyone.

And not the epithet for

an aging man,

      like this man,

now climbing a staircase into

December’s milky light, the sun

sinking through him

like a curator’s x-ray unearthing

a recycled canvas,

the early figure loosened

from his body’s ruined fresco —

      but he is: Lovely,

the sobriquet given

for certain girls sleepwalking

a foggy cusp, dozing

at the wet rim of beauty’s

unconsciousness; a madrigal

and oxymoron containing both

the clean, high bell of bird-song and

the dry-tongued bow burning

across the cello’s hips.

In the join,

where a man’s thigh meets

the ass’s curve, raw

as the rose’s puckered labia,

I’ve touched men there,

set my mouth inside the give

of that blood-colored hollow,

that private, unlikely corner

where a man’s softness turns, looking

to hide itself.



When first described imperfectly

by my shy mother, I tried to leap

from the moving

car. A response,

I suspect, of not

just terror (although

a kind of terror continues to play

its part), but also a mimetic gesture,

the expression equal

to a body’s system of absurd

jokes and dirty stories.

With cockeyed breasts

peculiar as distant cousins,

and already the butt of the body’s

frat-boy humor,

I’d begun to pack

a bag, would set off

soon for my separate

country. Now, sometimes,

I admire the surprised engineering;

how a man’s body can rise,

squaring off with the weight

of gravity, single-minded,

exposed as the blind

in traffic. It’s the body leaping

that I praise, vulnerable

in empty space.

It’s mapping the empty

space; a man’s life driving

down a foreign road.

The Sadness of Infidels

That which illuminates is sometimes only sad;

this full moon’s rule, titular

at best, and each decision

we come to beneath her, obscured,

vague as the myth inside a constellation.

We’re more comfortable with vanishing,

the partial beliefs of a bedside lamp,

and only trust in what we must

keep hidden. We make love our euphemism.

I’ve observed each part of me eclipse

as your body passes over mine,

your mouth moving then replacing nipple and clit,

desire circling a single point, unanchored,

incapable of resting or sinking in.

We’re sad as glaciers are, who cannot feel this,

propelled by the engine of their frozen weight,

natural machines made completely of mirrors,

we put out the light, moving forward and blind.


“Erections” and “The Sadness of Infidels” from Infanta © 1995 by Erin Belieu.

Reprinted by permission of:

Copper Canyon Press

Post Office Box 271

Port Townsend, WA 98368

Erin Belieu
and Nerve.com