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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Oct. 20 1999 3:40 AM


God of flesh, god of pleasure,
give us leisure while we're still strong--
                                                           defend us
from the whirlwind that blights
ash leaves with lesions,
                                    that makes the black cypress shake
like the junkie I saw begging on the corner.


Calm the undertow of the sea,
make the world
                         go slow as shadows
shifting as the sun shifts
in the garden of Persephone.

We kneel at the foot of oblivion's alp,
waiting for the snow to melt,
                                            for the stream
fretted with ice
to crack like a pistol shot,
and flow
as we splash out wine staining the tablecloth.

Keep hidden from us what tomorrow holds--

let's go looking while we can, while the Zone
or the Block or Wareham Street
lures us down onto our knees at night,
                                                          through parks
and dunes, the Gladiator's Gym
and the Brass Rail ...

Oh god of flesh, god of pleasure,

keep us in the dark
                              one moment more--

touching hands, lips grazing
lips, flesh
moving into flesh

... as the sun goes down
to orgy in the snow
                              on Soracte's slopes
shadowy as bodies giving
                                        themselves away. 


              --after Horace

Tom Sleigh's most recent books are Space Walk, a volume of poetry, and Interview With a Ghost, a collection of essays.