[b]Poem Before a War[/b]

On the cusp of a war,
it makes perfect sense
to write of the warm weight
of your body cradling mine, the way
you grip me where thigh meets torso
pulling me into your thrusts,
your fingers pressed deep in my pale flesh,
how you pin me to the bed
your damp chest on my breasts,
the feeding frenzy of our mouths
tasting each other’s blood-flushed bodies.
Limb on limb, arms akimbo,
gristle on bone and shit-stained gore,
the curve of a head in the crook of some arm,
the pulsing feast of maggots
on the blackened bodies of Verdun, at Auschwitz,
and the mass graves of Sarajevo-
and a poem
of your singularly precious body
on mine.

[b]The Collarbone[/b]

What is it with me, this obsession? Is it
a simple matter of attraction?
If it were, it could have been
any number of people. There are
other men here who have- can you believe it?
shown an interest in me.
Intelligent, attractive men.

No, it’s not that, and gee
but does he realize this, much less care?
He caught me once staring at the little bit
of throat and chest he’d bared
when he unbuttoned his white dress shirt.
I was caught like a man who talks to you
without once looking at your face.

So now, he wears his shirts unbuttoned
past his collarbone when we work together
smiling, watching me
all the while. Jesus.
Just to press my lips to his collarbone.
Never before have I endured
such casual cruelty.

[b]The Blessing[/b]

The sensory misers will inherit the earth, but first they’ll make it not
worth living on.
Diane Ackerman

Blessed are the exuberant, the generous,
who live in a world dominated by tight-fisted
prudes and misers, whose visions go as far
as which private school their kids will go to.

Blessed are the passionate, the brave, who
time and again, wade into the icy waters that divide us,
bracing themselves for the sure anguish of love
but embrace it, nevertheless, refusing
the cheap solace of bitterness and self-pity.
For they are surrounded and mocked by safe people
devoid of desire,
too timid for the mess of deep emotion,
too cautious and responsible
to know the sometime painful rapture of love.

In a world where standards are set by the meek
who fit their generic lifestyles to the most shallow mold,
Blessed are the strong, who make no excuses for their strength,
and who, receiving nothing save
the sideline criticism of the sedentary,
act anyway.

And especially Blessed are the compassionate,
whose concern is borne not of a need to coddle or appease,
but of brutal experience and hard-won wisdom,
who are not hamstrung by the urge to please or bound
by moral ties imposed on them, but who recognize the suffering
of the wholly broken, as only the mended can.

by Rebecca Jung (c)2003
([email]gvenneri [at] bellatlantic [dot] net[/email])

[b]Author’s Notes:[/b]
Rebecca Jung received a B.A. in art history from Kent State University, as well as a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh. Her poetry and short stories have been published in The Pennsylvania Review, Impetus, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Wazee Journal, MiPo, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, CC&D, The Festival of Women’s Voices Anthology as well as other anthologies, and a chapbook titled The Relic Maker. She works as a technical and scientific writer and editor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a member of Erotic Authors Association (EAA).

in the age of unanswerable questions

or what about this?

a man who says i have
the power
to change the world

who sees faith
not as a crutch but
a sword

and what we’ve become
is a nation of children
who cannot be saved

when the mother tells
her daughter’s killer that
he deserves no mercy
the face of god should appear
on every empty billboard
in america

the leaders of nations
should be
burned as witches

after this though

unproven theories in the age of despair

cold sunlight down tracy street
on a sunday morning
and i am almost able to believe that
the past can be left behind

i am tired of these abstractions
like america and god

i have moved awkwardly into the
21st century and brought with me only the bleeding horse
and it walks slowly
from room to room
without ever casting a shadow

and there is a child somewhere
who will be the next one to
die horribly
and there are linda’s sister’s moving through this
lush green landscape
ten years after the cancer
devoured her

nothing is more important than motion

nothing is more important than love

these are the words i write with
my wife and son
two hundred miles away
and i know them to be true but
speaking them out loud is a
different thing altogether

i have learned that silence is
not always failure

is sometimes just weight

it can be carried
but only for a short while


by John Sweet

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