I Am Big. It's the Pictures That Got Small

for those wonderful people out there in the dark

19 July 2006

Poetry Thursday: A Little Undressing

Posting a little early for Poetry Thursday, which prompted us to post about sex. Pretty ho-hum, I believe, to write about sex only as sex, but very hot to write about sex as play, improvisation, despair, nostalgia, whimsy, remorse, and then it begins to be something interesting.

Looking at my own poetry, I written about sex in relief of a mining disaster, Idaho winterscapes, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Peruvian dinners in Miami, Christmas carols, Miranda Richardson morphing into a Matthew Barney cheetah, failing comets, Jonathon Cornell boxes, salmon fishing runs, quantum mechanics, Sonja Henie, and yes, Boise State football. Oh, and dresses, as my faithful readers most likely know.

The trick for me is to be sure that the good sex poem, like most good sex, should be doing about twelve things at once. Oh, I could go on about the values of the profane, of the ecstatic, of the sexual politics of any sex act, of Whitman's view of poetry as a seminal utterance, of Kristeva's view of poetry as the ovumic murmuring, but that's all talk.

Today, I'll share one my Gerri likes.


Her Disrobing


She has said, “In dance, there is always gravity,
for movement is a continual exchange of weight.
If you’re doing it right, it is as if nothing touches ground.
To rise, you must lower yourself toward earth.
You must think down. You must humble your body.”

I do not recall her movements as desperate, but
I think of her raw doomed pull inside the music,
down to a place where pulse and breath have stopped.
She liked it that way, dance as a sculpting of space,
of stealing shape out of nothing: her arm curved

overhead in the dark, her eyes and chin tilted
down, even her hair across her face still. Tonight,
her dance might have become something for the men
along her life, or for me, this new man who might be
another punishment for the men she knew before.

Before me, her disrobing is a simple, quiet slip,
upon which a crinkle of cotton is the only
falling, the only capture in the air, and her nakedness
stuns me. I cannot breathe against this turn and drop
of her knee, as she sweeps her body beneath the covers,

powerful, a sexual angel. In her, I swear the music
must be of something ugly, the body accustomed
to a pain, and sometimes, too, when she hovers
above my body, so still that I am alone, the sound must
be of laughter, of one wing extending and lowing.

27 Comments:

At 1:39 AM, Blogger Lady Wordsmith said...

Oh my, but this is an exquisite ugly. It is - as she and her dance - powerful.

"...another punishment for the men she knew before..."

truly exquisite ugly

merci,
~Lady

 
At 5:30 AM, Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Deft and not a word wasted. I like its
weight and the tightness of the lines; its formal structure. The first verse is a masterly lead-in and the ending is quite intriguing; quite beautiful.

 
At 7:29 AM, Blogger jenclair said...

Oh, wow. What a beautiful poem! The use of the dance metaphor carries it beautifully:

"To rise, you must lower yourself/ toward earth."

"She liked it that way, dance /as a sculpting of space,/
of stealing shape out of nothing"

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger twitches said...

"I swear the music must be of something ugly, the body accustomed
to a pain, and sometimes, too, when she hovers above my body, so still that I am alone, the sound must
be of laughter, of one wing extending and lowing."

Exquisite!

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger jzr said...

Stunning, masterfully written!

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger Tammy said...

You did this week proud :) Awesome poem and everthing but ho hum!

 
At 10:34 AM, Blogger Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I believe Jim... (since I started reading the poetry here--3 weeks) that this poem is the best you have posted. Very feminine. Very powerful.

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Verity said...

Oh, how exquisite. I could take that poem to bed with me and savour it for hours.

 
At 1:33 PM, Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

I always come by to read what you've offered for Poetry Thursday and this week was no exception. I don't want to repeat myself...but, your work is very evocative and lovely. Not only did I enjoy the poem here--but, also the word "foreplay" where you contemplated writing "sex as sex" versus "sex in relief" to something beyond itself. Had you gone on about Whitman and Kristeva--the profane and the political...I would have kept on reading. But, then, I'm just a procrastinating "English adjunct-professor" with a bad case of word lust. Thank you!

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger Ceebie said...

I love how this poem flaps from the graceful to the ugly, then grace in ugliness, like the "one wing extended and lowing".

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger wendylou who? said...

i was glad to read your comment before the poem..I agree, whole hearedly, that writing on sex..itself, can be...ho hum...your poem captured, as alway, the moments, where body and spirit, mesh...very nice indeed.

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Beloved dreamer said...

Great Jim, you are in truth a poet's poet. bd

 
At 4:07 PM, Blogger bb said...

*Before me, her disrobing is a simple, quiet slip*
I love the polysemy of 'slip' in this line. Has me chanting it over and over again.

 
At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Marilyn said...

"...another punishment for the men she knew before..." I, too, loved that line. Great writing--love it.

 
At 5:57 PM, Blogger jim said...

c. delia: Oh, you have it bad, don't you? Yes, such a dangerous thing, all those slipknots of language, all those untyings.

And wow to all the other comments.

But no comments on that little hottie Sonja???

 
At 6:01 PM, Blogger kerrdelune said...

Fine writing this and gorgeous imagery too. I particularly liked "dance as a sculpting of space, of stealing shape out of nothing" This one is erotic, but it is also liminal.

 
At 6:38 PM, Blogger January said...

Okay. That's it. I'm buying your books tonight!

"I cannot breathe against this turn and drop
of her knee, as she sweeps her body beneath the covers,

powerful, a sexual angel."

Oh to be wanted like that! Jim, I have such word envy for you. Every utterance is necessary. Every line breathes. Graceful as a dance. Just remarkable. And your ending ... Once again, I am dumbstruck.

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger gkgirl said...

there is so much in this
that i like...
but this especially
because it rings true...
"this new man who might be
another punishment for the men she knew before"

 
At 7:58 PM, Blogger h, broken polyester angel said...

I love the way you write

 
At 9:39 PM, Blogger pepektheassassin said...

This is absolutely marvelous, jim! What a fine poet you are --your poetry always amazes me. And I think of you every single time I post a comment and have to write the word verification!LOL

 
At 10:49 PM, Blogger BZ said...

"when she hovers above my body, so still that I am alone, the sound must be of laughter, of one wing extending and lowering"


This line is breathtaking. I cannot wait to learn from ou Jim. Teach me

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger ruby said...

your gerri has good taste in poetry, and you, my friend, are an incredibly talented writer! kudos!

 
At 12:08 AM, Blogger jayne said...

Oh, I can taste this scene, these images. I don't even have words for it.

 
At 5:11 AM, Blogger Catherine said...

I'm a little late - I think it's all been said, this is just lovely

 
At 6:56 PM, Blogger ecm said...

I love, love, love the last line,
"...one wing extending and lowing." Beautiful.

 
At 9:24 PM, Blogger kan said...

haunting!

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger Dana said...

Yummmmmm.

I hate it when I get to parties late, especially when incredible words such as of stealing shape out of nothing have been exchanged.

I love this poem. The ending ~ oh the ending!

 

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