To kiss death, to sleep
With a perverted persona
In my mind, to make love
To Satan & his square-jawed effigies
Smiling from Esguire & GQ.
His double profile in a bedroom mirror:
Crescent, knife in a father’s hand.
With so much fear, there’s no
Orgasm. The brain: a cruel king
Ogles from a stone tower.
Or, a dog goes down
On all fours,
Crawling in the dust. I stop
& wag my tail. Whining for bread
Held out in his left hand, I come forth,
Eyes fixed on his right fist cocked like a hammer.
Yusef Komunyakaa teaches in the creative writing program at Princeton University. His latest book of poems is Thieves of Paradise (Wesleyan, 1998), and he recorded a CD, Love Notes from the Madhouse with John Tchicai (8th Harmonic Breakdown). (updated 1999)