Part of what I love about poetry is the unapologetic language. People always want to talk about love and romance, but they don’t want to acknowledge sex, even though acts of sex are just as much a part of the everyday fabric of lives as pretty words or other acts of affection. Poems capture bits and pieces of lives, and accordingly, much of poetry is about sex. Including many of my favorites. I don’t know what you might be expecting, but perhaps it is not this? I picked two, written by two very different poets, who both happen to be favorites of mine.
She sits naked on a rock
a few yards out in the water.
He stands on the shore,
also naked, picking blueberries.
She calls. He turns. she opens
her legs showing him her great beauty,
and smiles , a bow of lips
seeming to tie together
the ends of the earth.
Splashing her image
to pieces, he wades out
and stands before her, sunk
to the anklebones in leaf-mush
and bottom-slime—the intimacy
of the geographical. He puts
a berry in its shirt
of mist into her mouth
She swallows it. He puts in another.
She swallows it. Over the lake
two swallows whim, juke jink,
and when one snatches
an insect they both whirl up
and exult. He is swollen
not with ichor but with blood.
She takes him and talks him
more swollen. He kneels, opens
the dark, vertical smile
linking heaven with the underearth
and murmurs her smoothest flesh more smooth.
On top of the rock they join.
Somewhere a frog moans, a crow screams.
The hair of their bodies
startles up. They cry
in the tongue of the last gods,
who refused to go,
chose death, and shuddered
in joy and shattered in pieces,
bequeathing their cries
into the human breast. Now in the lake
two faces, floating, see up
a great maternal pine whose branches
open out in all directions
– Galway Kinnell
You taught me what a body’s for.
Before you I was scared of being stripped completely naked
even in the throes of it.
I never quite lost myself.
But would watch it from above.
Never so completely moved
that I understood what all the fuss was for.
Since you, I stare unashamedly at strangers.
Hold their eyes for seconds at a time.
Smile like I’d know what to do if they filed back,
panic when they do.
I am faithful to the lessons you have taught me,
but they’ve flooded me with hungers I’ve not satisfied before.
And so I find myself breathless in a Brooklyn tranny bar
stunned by a woman who is kissing me like I am you.
– Kate Tempest