His Body Retold

He abraded marble
Until he reached skin, inner than
Any thigh and equally muscular.
He plucked flowers off vines
And glued them with marrow
To stone slab as it becomes
Altar, ulterior
Motive for fiction and
Its facts: go in too
Deep and feel the burn,
Acids as they eat
Remains of optimism not felt since
Andros nor east of any olive.
Volatile oils misplace
What’s left of his mind: sphere holds
Absence together, and this awning
Looks like basil smells: cinnamon seep
Through green, thorough crack
Where brain slides, securely clicks.


Absence annexes air, sheer
Cancelling of any
Connective, worn
Marble not thew
Nor stripe of green
To say nothing of blue.


He rubs each leaf
And smells.
He scans his steps
For hirsute grass.
He leaves
And sews a little basket:
When thunder cracks
He sips the sweat his body drips.


With every drop
His arms turn to marble
Such that his profile
Suits gallery and glanced at by
Ranks of superior gods.


Desire turns lax in its fibers: papyrus
Tears where marble and muscle
Merge, margin where thoughts sprawl and
Spiders see him error, make errancy seem
Eight times more attractive than the last gods
Called here their stage, corralled the
Oxygen meant for us until our every
Breath builds commodious ague.


I slipped from margin to spine, and on my
Way I met a god on her way
To becoming me were I a woman.
We almost merged.
Where we got closest, my sinews hurt
And I started to freeze.
I hoped some gaze
Would track me unto freeing channel
But Eden knocked down horizon,
Promised any feeling I felt scared of would
Be exactly the pulse
Stitches the start of this epoch.


After Reginald Shepherd

Asymptote skein of summer, sclera with
Sun for constant companion, selfishly
I toss these elements of world
Off this stage that is my existence,
Proscenium where I do not
Perform but rather live, at
Least the part of me that’s
Visible, spectrum whose politics
Allow legibility, like the allure
Of the micro millimeter when
Blue turns green, but this is the
Kind of transformation which does
Not permit the folly of amnesia;
I keep my past—some call this
History—like spring retains
Some of winter’s contour,
And cold fact controls this
Music by which I am compelled
To live, nervous wreck
Through waters no sirens preside,
Residue myth still
Clings to, and in its clinging
Enjambment begins, brooks
Intention and becomes
Prime marble, Archilocus’
Thigh struck by sun, striped by
Light and shade and Homeric
Shadow still strips me
To thew, blue cordage
Makes music with breeze, and
I and I frieze, sentenced to
Extremest art, end always in
Sight but never any arrival,
Identity no noun despite what
Parts of speech dictate, or I
Lapse: speech purls unto pearly
Sphere, moon orbits inverse ore of I,
Renders first persons tides, forest of
Kelp otherwise known as we, and we
Sway, wedded to growth
No matter sky glares grey.


Adam Strauss lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Most recently, poems of his appear in Queen Mob’s TeahouseYESPOETRY, and Fence.