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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Eight Poems
by Doug Tanoury
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Agamemnon Has AIDS

I met a man who wore
The death mask of Agamemnon
And he told me that death
Like every other moment of your life
Is something that happens to you

I came in contact with the body fluids
Of Iphigenia without surgical mask
Or gloves and I had unprotected sex
With Achilles and made love to
Clytemnestra without a condom

And all of Mycenae whispers
Every woman's husband
And every man's wife
In irony fitting Greek drama
The hero home from Ilium

To bedsores, lesions and conspicuous
Consumption ravaged now and stricken
With the strictly modern malady
That's turned him suddenly old
Like King Priam and just as sad

And I Am

And I told her
Matter of factly
That indeed I am
A poet of naked breasts
And that umber nipples
Centered in amber aureoles
To me are pupils
And Irises that serve
As windows to the soul

And I went on to say
Confident and self-assured
That I am too the bard
Of the bare thigh
That to me is nature revealed
Tan like the underside
Of sycamore leaves in fall
Softly wild and untouchable
As a sleeping doe

And I concluded by saying
That I am a lyric that can versify
The plump lushness of
A pale ass
In still-life form
Like so much fruit
As if it were a honeydew melon
Sliced in two and resting
On the kitchen table

Salome Dancing for Herod

If I was in the great hall
Of the palace
Watching Salome dancing
For Herod
I too would marvel
At movements
So erotic and executed
With animal precision

Her heaving breasts
Swaying pelvis
The white waves of her skin
Moving in soft undulations
Across her abdomen
And I smile knowing
That the king and I
Are both drunk with dance

And the beat of the music
The rhythmic flashing
Of bare thighs
Naked belly
Awaken the pagan in me
Who knows that lust is to love
What poetry is to prose
A sensual awakening of sight and smell
And sound and taste

And I would swear too
At that moment that the bounce
In each breast
Was worth the heads
Of a hundred prophets
And is more moving to me
Than the words
Of all the holy men in Judea

Nude with Calla Lilies

In Rivera's painting there is
No face for it is a portrait
Of form a study of shape

Symmetry and balance that is
A woman in a Vitruvian pose
Her body in bloom

Crouched on a straw mat
The soles of her feet cross
Simply beneath her

Like leaves under a blossom
Lilies in a wicker basket
Before her

Stand in contrast to the
Strict order that frames

And the straight and curved line
That rises from ass to spine
To part her hair

Her arms spread like stems
Supporting of weight of

Gray Nude

In the dim light of December afternoons
She is a shadow moving from bath to bedroom
Wearing twilight

Like a loose robe that falls open to reveal
A silhouette of breasts a dark profile of legs
Curved thighs

The touch of her still wet hair against my cheek
That afterbath scent of jasmine surrounding
Her skin

As I capture a shadow odalisque stretching over me
By breathing in and holding her deep within
My chest

Awake Erato

Awake Erato
I whisper in urgent prayer
As we play master and slave
To senses that blend together
In this moment so finely
I can smell her movements
Taste fragrance
Hear texture
Touch her words
And see her thoughts

In passionate confusion
The hand is quicker than the eye
And mechanisms that trigger illusions
Is the obvious as
I am transformed into
Reduced to the basic
And most elemental parts
In a universe of limbs
That is ever expanding


She is a white-winged maiden
That Chagall might paint
Floating across a sky of lapis lazuli
Carrying a single feather
In her hand

Tilted slightly in attitude
And speeding azimuth
She flies on paper wings
Not her own
But that I alone give her

To a schoolboy she is
The first day of summer vacation
And exhales the warm air
Of June mornings
Holding hope
Promise and all things
Not yet here

She sings glad tidings
With a child's voice and
Tickles me with
The white feather of newness



Her breasts like little pears were
Sharply pointed at their tips and
Resembled the farthest horizontal
Peaks of twin parentheses

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