Sex and Poetry by Jeffrey Harrison

Jeffrey Harrison
The Yale Review
Volume 89, Number 2
April 2001

Sex and Poetry

(After a friend asked me why
I didn’t write more poems about sex)

For one thing, it’s hard to get away with,
caught as we are red-handed in the Chamber
of Mimesis, one of those kinky rooms
with mirrors all over the walls and ceiling
where we hope to satisfy our unspeakable needs
but get instead an abyss of dwindling reflections.
Also, it’s less like being in bed with a lover
than standing alone in front of a copy machine
Xeroxing her panties and bra. Snaps and garters
give way to the block and tackle of narrative,
which no amount of fumbling will undo.
Now tell me, does that sound like fun to you?

Sometimes, however, while we are looking
elsewhere, the green-gold dust of pollen falls
and begins to settle over everything
like an idea that takes over without our knowing
and adds a glow to whatever we see,
and we find ourselves in the middle of a sentence
we want to keep going, clause after clause,
as if the sinuosities of syntax were
the suave unfolding of limbs and skin
and language a seduction to which we love
to succumb, feeling the words take shape in our mouths
and tasting them on someone else’s tongue.

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