Crown of Tongues (Collaboration with Paul Lastovica)

by Therese Elaine

They met below sea level
in some post-war blackout basement,
holding up seperate ends of the bar while their conversation slipped
a few degrees below the equator.
nonchalantly they discussed the barter system,
while two sets of hands played out a peculiar
sort of cypher; pressure points
and skin striations, a new form of morse code-
while he tried to interpret the slight slant of her
smile, and the cleverly concealed tremble of lip;
all the while maneuvering through
a crowd of shadows behind his eyes.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

It was, for all purposes, intended to appear
as if a great landmass were above us;
the kind of dream-world details second and third strings
of stories tend to crop up.
Truthfully, our conversation led us to a state of mind
quite below usual levels of perceived perversion;
I allowed our dialog continuance if only to relish in whatever ends it brought.
You could say i became a distant plaything; far from reach
quite safe, even empowered by the distance. She kept a smile on
and i kept wondering what it all was supposed to mean;

I became enchanted; beyond any control, perhaps.
She moved her hands; i moved my hands. An uneventful synchronization?
perhaps. Or had an entire line of defense failed at the watch?
But her smile. That smile. Even now her lips defy any logic I can conjure.
What was it that happened? the hunter now the hunted.

He kept me at less than arm's length, a distance
manufactured for the purpose of preconceived prudence;
he affected bemusement, I indulged in my own amusements,
seeking to upset the imbalance, more in my favour, or perhaps
to gain favour, I liked catching him unawares -
he scented me like prey, I circled him hungrily.
Suddenly - precipitously -we tangled
fingertips and tongue to lip. we ducked the obvious entrapments
in lieu of more subtle forms of snare.
I lost all notion of direction but knowing north I moved resolutely
toward southern climes, a formerly bruised pallor becoming radiant
by his regard. How could I lose all semblance of composure, in a handspan
of time? We met in the middle but here I am, giving ground;
I feel him shudder as I drag nails down spine, I press my advantage,
pressing closer, till he's forced to fight for purchase -but now I'm caught
without struggle. I can only shift nearer.

Just to keep things interesting; i held a mental image
of the ideal distance two bodies should stand apart. Both for aesthetics
and for the purpose of keeping a worm on it's hook, as it were.
she would on occasion inch further inward - and to recheck the balance I would step outward.
An impromptu game of spatial relations. Every move toward and away
toward and away was a concisely arranged syncopation. She kept up nicely;
soon upping the ante to strike in for the killing blow.

The intensity of our collision took me aback - briefly - and before long
I too tore apart the imagined optimum distance. She begged for animal, received a monster.
ignoring the unlookers, i began to think of crowds as tapestries - pretty scenery
set up for just this occasion; this feast of eyes and hands and mouths
opening, closing - clutching, releasing.
Never at any point was it too much to bear; both she and I outright rejected the concept of absolution

this was nothing to conceal, nothing that could be concealed
we had gone long past the point of dalliance;
we were now bent upon destruction, a course guaranteed via
lost in mouth-to-mouth benedictions, we etched febrile promises underneath each other's skin.
An intricate dance of fractal negation; every step back and forth
back and forth was subtle strategized locomotion. He led masterfully;
soon I shifted positions to better permit an unsuspected angle.
Against my onslaught he staggered -momentarily -but soon enough
his control shattered -and I shivered. I begged for steel-trap satiation -
you closed in around me.
We fumbled for brass rings, against the brass rail, buttons,
and false bravado
falling to the floor like so many sideshow tokens; we unfolded ourselves,
our phantasmagoric past-life reminders clung to the cast-off chandeliers that lit this hypno-erotic escapade;
we eschewed experience in favour of instinct.
we could not deny the hope inherent in this near-heretical pursuit...

At some point a number of things devolved to the level of cliche: balanced footing, precision memory, the need for drink or breath;
countless other quote unquote necssesities. We were two rugs fighting for the same space, one bound to trump the other;
two metals lock-step in chemical reaction - threading ourselves into the very edge of existence / oblivion;
There were the expected shouts of distress from the mob, as i'm sure only moments before our appearance was that of collective cool
then a sudden collision of primal physics. It surely appeared dire, even grotesque. How oft mistaken the uninitiated.
I imagine this is how God felt during those initial days of creation. How novice surgeons might feel following their first unsimulated incision.

my vision began to sputter into bursts : i saw bits of pieces of slivers; things that logically made no sense
unaware now of how out of place the world around was becoming. a sphere of eyes, a line of identically suited men.
Still, i kept pulsating against this strange new body; caught up in the noise of its lips. Shut eyes
wide eyes; a crown of tongues. On multiple occasions a woodgrain face grinned at us, at me. Whatever was happening now only appeared to affect my self.
her self was doing just fine, it seemed. Perfectly enlightened by the velocity of every push.
It felt countless the arms around me.
Too torrential to notice the grind of nails and flesh,
let alone the sudden halt of motion, or the newly lowered pulse.
how my vision
shifted ninety degress right
as she returned to my field of vision
whispering in her best church voice :

Tell us what you've seen.


Author's Note: Some prayers have no gods...

Posted on 06/30/2010
Copyright © 2021 Therese Elaine

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Joan Serratelli on 06/30/10 at 02:50 AM

Ther is so much here- absotutely outstanding. The last line saud it all. The Author's note was quite fitting- great write.

Posted by Linda Fuller on 06/30/10 at 07:27 PM

So much to like in this push/pull collaboration - too many lines and images to iterate - also, dynamite title and author's note.

Posted by Sarah Wolf on 07/01/10 at 01:11 PM

Brilliant :)

Posted by Morgan D Hafele on 07/01/10 at 06:08 PM

after reading this multiple times i can still really just say wow! so many fantastic lines. i love the different points of view throughout the piece. from start to finish it tore me through

Posted by Max Bouillet on 07/02/10 at 02:00 AM

Some Gods need no prayers. This is poetic sex. The systematic ritualistic mutal release of inhibitions leading to the birth of a new creature sprawling prostrate on the floor awkardly finding God in a blinding moment of consciousness. The words mingle like your bodies --merging into a unified voice with waves of the divine sending tingles up the backs of your readers (or maybe down to more southern climes). Exquisite visualizations with just enough distance to keep us on the hook.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 07/04/10 at 02:22 PM

Quite the epic collaboration. Don't think I have the patience to write this kind of poetry anymore, but it's sure nice to check out and take in what others have done. Kudos!

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