No. 6


Alicia Ostriker 


the fear of death behind the veil of words
you’ve said enough about that
fear is a shape-shifter

desire means you are inhabited
by Aphrodite whether smiling or tormented
her palms caress your breasts, her body presses

lightly against your body, inside your body
like kindness itself, playing around
she warms the blood and this is lovely

then she heats it and you go crazy
but cling to your craziness
and the object of desire doesn’t matter

you turn him into Dionysus the savage
you would go with him anywhere
you turn him into Krishna, he comes to you

in his light silk robes
his feet press into the earth walking toward your village
you can hear his flute so clearly

you soften for him
you are sure he is real
the sureness is joy


I am tired and hurt, you are well aware
That I have loved you
All my life,

Sometimes as the laughing one,
Sometimes as a beggarly hag,
For I recognized you in that form,

That poor disguise, and at certain times of great joy
I felt you inhabit me
Like the surge of an endless wave

I could ride, I could sail, and anyone I kissed
I was kissing you—whom I fear
I will never see again, never

Kiss again.


            —for Anne Waldman

the Buddha says I am
enslaved by my craving
my craving is a monster
             it is the Source of Suffering
the tongue of it hangs out
                         the final cause
             and its mask of gauze
             the tongue of it hangs out
             thrice pierced, like a pig’s snout

what is freedom but the life apart
from craving, which I imagine as a white curtain
blowing all afternoon in an April window
yet without some craving there would be nothing

so before craving existed there was nothing
the void which many have attempted to imagine
which after the diamond sutra I see as dry ice
creating a simulacrum of smoke in the uninhabited Gobi

to crave that void seems paranoid, or paradoxical
yet it makes sense, the craving not to crave
not clinging to one’s life, to be alive…


I need the poem to be a consequence of craving.
I don’t care what kind.
Fuck you, you masters of coolness.




The copyright of 
everything published 
here remains 
with the authors.


Main Page | Current Issue | Contributors| News | Where to Buy | Links | Contact us | Archives

© 2003-2005 Ars Interpres Publications.