a neck of bright cherry,
scarlet for the heart,
cedar feet, burgundy legs . . .
No one is bleeding, nor
is it sweet rose, nor is it valentine.
Yes, the cheeks could be Snow
White’s apple. Yes, fire, yes,
war paint . . .
Yet all clots break & flow
without being a wound.
Yet all is safe & sane as the flame
that is just a match used briefly . . .
Heat: but the warmth is no inferno.
Shine: but not of gasoline.
Friend, see crystal.
Here is the clear flesh.
Not a puzzle to figure.
Here is touch feeling touch &
the blood of love thick as any groin.
Still: more expressive.
Still: not mere loins,
& if you cut your thumb
& if I cut mine
brothers could not be more open.
warm, brimming, firm,
the way certain pillows are
just right for a hand or nose
nuzzling close so lips
learn to circle, live
fixed on that language
of a body that is not
anybody’s but the one
who’s earned giving,
whose generosity returns
full from the urn of comfort
where we nourish
each other’s cornucopia
as it runs over & over –
from child sighs re-stuck in the “ahs”
that come with each flash of color
cracking clear sky . . .
Two tourist planes circle round that,
the smoky pompoms of Oz in their flares . . .
The tourists raise glasses, toast the pyrotechnics
as if at a launch, while below, in the harbor’s
ink, boats, mirroring the stars, honk their horns
beyond fog . . .
They seem good as toys in the bath
of a stirring whirlpool, while here, on our second
floor, gazing across tree tops & strays in Navy
White late to the display, here to the sound of
‘Pops’, our own tube’s soundtrack, we discover
that our personal fourths are no longer about war.
We discover each other too
again in July’s mildness, our jockey stripes,
a faded flag, our tank tops puckered
for the tanned wrinkled tattoos of old glory;
our arms press the sparks of
here in a shared bed
which is fourth enough
the rest of the year.
Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance.