13 April 2009

Tenaya Darlington

[from Tenaya Darlington's Madame Deluxe, Coffee House Press, 2000]

The Student Asks the Poet Basho What Is Victoria's Secret?

1 Eight pairs of sexy panties
   so many pathways
   to the cherry tree.

2 The bamboo
   has two new shoots:
   my lover's spaghetti straps.

3 Tonight to drown my longing
   I drink sake
   from her seamless cups.

4 White birches
   along the water.
   Women in matching coordinates.

5 In this world
   there are straw sandals.
   Then there are bedroom slippers.

6 Our time on earth
   high-cut brief.

7 From this planet,
   the stars only come
   in small and extra small.

8 The crows lift from the limbs.
   Take off
   your black thong.

9 Out of loneliness,
   I try on
   your blackberry brassiere.

Velvet Duets

A couple seeks a corner table in a restaurant where they may dine unobserved. Nerice, the wife, is dressed in a green cloak that looks like a large elm leaf. Against the green curtains, she is able to disguise herself. Her husband, whose very skin looks like old clothes, is wearing a shiny jacket -- iridescent blue -- like a set of rudimentary wings. After the first course, the waiter notices that their reproductive appendages have appeared. By the time the second course arrives, the husband has discarded his old skin and is beginning to form a new one from liquid secreted by certain glands. By the main course, the wife has a very large abdomen and her cloak is more or less crumpled up. The husband's skin turns a beautiful green color with a number of golden spots. Around the room, other diners have begun to take notice. The husband is on all fours, his nails digging into the taupe carpet while his wife, sitting atop him like a float-parade queen, is steadily layingn eggs on his back. This is unpalatable and distasteful to the other diners who are not used to open relationships or home births. All around the restaurant, the women change color; the men bristle and emit an unpleasant odor. They do not know what causes this sort of gall, but just the same, they continue to watch, craning to see past the bouquets on tables. By the time the dessert arrives, the whole place is rubbing cloacae. Intermittent gasps drown the violins. Across tables and under tables, mandibles are pressed together. From behind the swinging doors, the cook watches in amazement, admittedly elated. The room finally stills. The stars come out. The diners leave, grabbing jackets off chairs, faces aglow as they enter the night from the sill.

Madame Deluxe (National Poetry Series)


  1. I just came across this! What a lovely idea to read a book of poetry each day and post a poem.

    Tenaya Darlington

  2. Thanks, Tenaya. I love your work.