Epistula non erubescit -A Letter Does Not Bleed (Collaboration)

by Therese Elaine

It's coming down thick in the sticks.

The shutter flash and mad-house-clicks
pummel every tin-roof of this forgotten strand of feed-stores.
I keep a pack of caramel cubes for such occasions.
Now, if only god would stop pissing in the wind
and if only this girl would answer her phone;

I wonder if she'll remember my voice, because
I don't recall if we made it to names;
we met a while back. She smelled of cut-wood; left her number
on a napkin; on a crate in some ill lit back-alley I dared to follow.
Not much made sense from then on.

I need something to cut the monotony of rain on windowpanes
It's getting smokier than a roadhouse back room but
a girl gets used to those kinds of places when she's got my kind of taboo.
Still I've been saintlier than a fucking nun these days,
but I've got the taste for something sweet riding my tongue...
...if only that guy would call me;
he had a face that made me want to do bad things
just to watch expressions change.

I want to see his mouth follow me while his eyes croon love songs.
I forgot his name; too busy envying the shadows his hands touched,
trembling, as I wrote down my number; only,
it was dark in that alley
and sometimes
I make my two's look like threes.

I've taken to dialing her number in bundled efforts of five back-to-back calls;
maybe it's my sense of adventure melding to my desire for punishment

but I like to think she's at an empty table with an abacus and word-pad
notating the number of times I call a day, calculating some kind of formula to foresee
the optimal moment to acquaint me with silence, dangling
as if our satellites were not equipped to relay and interpret frequencies.

I imagine her an over-achieving tease.
At some point habits kick in; a television powers on;
as the static channel shaves off the edge, i phase out.

Lately, I've dreamed up a plethora of variants for her.
Every night I give each a call;
Every night I am sucked into the transmitter, spat out the receiver.

When I'm not working, I'm just waiting, like some hungry mistress kept anticipating,
in a self-styled love-nest sort of hell. I'm just ticking off the minutes
and it drives me crazy; the number of sighs that slip through impatiently rouged lips,
multiplied by the amount of delicious frisson dragging a fingernail slowly from ankle to thigh, ticking off my salient points
I'm inclined to think that I'm only adding to the ache for something greater than this imaginary equation for incendiary bliss...
I've got a white-noise dialogue playing out in the back of my mind,
a moving picture that undulates behind my eyelids,
all the ways I'll make him pay for keeping me waiting
They all end in cut-off sentences - a projection of my subvocal submission.
Every night I am open to receive. I broadcast a signal, wait for a sign.

a girl runs out of fingers eventually.

The first time through is full frontal blunt force; no exceptions.
She pounces on me in the same way a predator take down prey. The only sensible option is to let gravity do it's thing.

She grabs at me - asks to borrow a handful of fingers;
there is suction at my back, warm-wet at the knees; chest to chest compression.

I suspect at this moment that she is the cause of radical weather reports;
her digits, lightning - her mouth, thunder - her eyes, a focal point for coastal evacuees;
everything turns panoptic - our sense of the world fucks with us, the same as we fuck with each other
she begs for entry, i skirt the edge of a cliff; this is precisely how world leaders do business with one another.

my rubber arms wrap around her in a series of kinbaku patterns as I contemplate the nature plinian eruptions.

Before he can sense the scent of my open guard
I've ensnared him in ebon curls and ruby-slick lips,
pale skin in post-haste trembling twinings.
I get a good grip, lose my footing;
tangle up pulsepoints and fingertips till we come to a halt on the deep-pile,
impact drives the point of skin-to-skin intimacy home;
in an effort to unravel his already ravaged composure,
I lick at wounds I've yet to cause, till we're both gasping at the drop in atmosphere;
he looms darkly intent on my horizon while I tidal shift beneath;
we bury our heads in this auto-erotic cartographic give and take
my teeth-torn dress invites entry into split-lips, spread-legs.
this is how I make history.

Suddenly he becomes sinuous and I can't move for the speed
he carves hieroglyphic letters of intention on my surface,
knowing he'd better give in to my demands, and soon.

Her and I are a turn of events for the worse, the kind of plot twist movie-goers fear most.
It seems only natural that in the midst of the far-flung-fantastic some sub-level
in one of our brains would flip a coin to see what course to follow.
This is how she wound up in a bird-cage; and I in chains;
the would be victims of one anothers alternate identities.
A variation of my lady pops her head out from the end of an aisle of books; thanks me for the gift (a nightingale)

The floor is tile, green; and wet. I suspect it is slick, as there are no foot prints,
only the appearance of bodies crawling someplace else.
I've seen this scene prior to now. A light hangs down, swings in an ovular manner.
I hear her turning a page, somewheres unseen. I hear the sounds of buttons undoing themselves;
her breath on the upswing, further out, deeper in; I sense storm formation,
a front-line crush wave at the ready; an ambush gathering.

In the cage, she is opening her mouth to sing; but it isn't by choice.
Someone has their hand up her spine, someone thinks this is cute. It is by design.
A trap set for myself or another. The light is dimming, the bird is singing; my chains are loosening;
The variant appears before me, asks to make it stop. I grin a little,
take her from behind.

I assume the position; a predatory push and pull ensues,
a give and take that never presumes
this canary is more lethal than any ancestry might indicate.
I am slick with the alchemy of competent undressings and tongue-lashing poetry
and you're hard with my songs
my own particular kind of lip service, as I skitter along nerve endings and gild these blooded offerings;
it's ever more exquisite as I prime for that swollen crescendo.
I hope he knows he never fooled me
no one gets lost like this during a foreign correspondence tarantella,
a snarl of red tape autographs;

he was the best kind of bad odds I'd met in awhile.
But even knowing this could only ever work in a different time and place,
and with a few variations on the theme,
it never stopped me from running every time
he thumbed the pages of that tattered volume of 'once upon a time';
sure, I know all the endings
but he knows how to tell a story.


Author's Note: My thanks to Paul Lastovica for sharing his talent with me!

Posted on 10/06/2010
Copyright © 2021 Therese Elaine

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by V. Blake on 10/06/10 at 04:13 AM

Well, this was an amazing idea for a collab and poem for a number of reasons--not the least of which being your ability to complement one another perfectly. It's also an awesome premise, and the atmosphere of the whole thing is as thick, brooding, and overwhelming as I'd expect from either of you, and then some. Long poem begets long comment, I guess, but seriously: fantastic work. (I will crosspost this to each version in your respective libraries.)

Posted by Johnny Crimson on 10/06/10 at 07:24 PM

and what a story he tells, this is incredible. Congrats to the both of you. But...but...Okay Paul, times up though. I'm stealing her back.. :)

Posted by Johnny Crimson on 10/06/10 at 07:26 PM

I'm commenting again b/c this is brilliant. Somewhere in between pulsepoints and fingertips my mind left my body only to plunge back in through the back alley of my throat and dive-bomb south for winter. STRONG stuff going on here.! Highest remarks here. -J. Crimson

Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 10/07/10 at 09:22 PM

The result here is pretty damn extraordinary. One of the most fascinating collaborations I've ever read.

Posted by Charlie Morgan on 10/08/10 at 03:45 PM

...i need a pack of cigarettes after that read; non-filtered. in awe over here.

Posted by Laura Doom on 10/13/10 at 11:44 PM

I'd say 'encore', but I fear I might explode. Seamlessly integrated piece -- I'm a bloodsucker for symbiosis...

Posted by Philip F De Pinto on 10/16/10 at 01:26 PM

this collab. is chuck full of the creative pulse which quite electrify the neck posts while raising the hairs lenghtier than the bar for once.

Posted by Ted Jackins on 12/25/10 at 07:53 PM

I need something to cut the monotony of rain on windowpanes It's official...that is one of the best lines I've ever read.

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