Tuesday, February 14, 2006

St. Valentine's Day Poem: Thylias Moss

To all, a Happy St. Valentine's Day!

John & Curtis in Rio
This wasn't taken on St. Valentine's Day, but it's one of my favorite photographs (courtesy of Allen Gallery) and captures the spirit, especially since we're still slogging through wintry February!


Since I posted a love poem I wrote a few days ago, here's a poem by one of my favorite poets, who always always knows how to make even the most hackneyed subjects sounds fresh and arresting: Thylias Moss (at left, reading, courtesy of UIUC). (I think this is the second poems of hers I've posted; the last time was last April, during (Inter-)National Poetry Month, when I paired one of her poems* ("Staking Territory") with one by Cuban poet Nancy Morejón. But truly, every month should be Poetry Month, and every day should be St. Valentine's Day!


Sometimes your lover means to swallow you,
your surname disappearing into his history.
He inhales more deeply than you, pulling the air
to the bottom of himself, inflating his shadow.
The rhythm of his breathing is so intense you danse
to it. When you kiss him, you breathe like
another shadow.

It's a simple change of address, your mail and
liabilities rerouted. Like divers with one tank,
you could take turns and both ascend; you'd lose only
the pleasure, would make the kiss mandatory.

I just hope Judas got more than he paid for, the
Savior's skin under his lips, dimpling then springing
back like reciprocation.

Copyright © Thylias Moss, from At Redbones (Cleveland State University Press, 1990).

*I can't ever get the "search" function to work properly with my blog. I type in "Thylias Moss" and it tells me it can't anything. Not even the "Advanced Search" option works. Is it because it's still in Beta format? Is it Firefox? Does anyone have any suggestions? Thankfully my memory isn't completely shot.


  1. I am much too lazy to post this on my blog. But in response to your request for some poetry, one selection. (I lose the visual aspect.) From a longer selection (I need to stop working in multi-part forms!) Enough throat-clearing:

    The simplicity of a musical phrase without staff or stave

    Spectral atonality

    (he could break light into pieces)

    He had a foreign name

    He wanted to know what tone my skin was

    Brown caramel Brown coffee Dark chocolate
    Smooth fudge Tinged with ochre

    A matisse canvas An AIDS quilt

  2. Sorry to camp, one more, from a different sequence.

    In sunshine voices are muted

    Words fear to rub against each other,
    To cause the abrasions of language
    Faced with itself

    It is easier to ask questions, to allow for implosions
    Lacking in context, and significant
    Seeing from a distance makes vision difficult

    The way, after an imposed silence
    One never learns to speak
    One speaks all the time

    Attractive words with unknown meanings,

    I speak in poached words, murmured asides, into a slumbering ear

    Drenching, you leave me parched
    Admitting a need to be desirable, a
    Need to be

    The sweetness with which you think of me
    Undoes me
    I lose specificity
    Your deluge
    Your suffusing

  3. Wow, thanks for these, Keguro! I've also been following your daily love poems on your site. They form a great series, so I want to go back and read them in and out of sequence. I especially love the one-line one!

  4. Gosh, John, what a misty-eyed and romantic poem you've chosen to represent the holiday!

    Kai in NYC