The Tenth Muse

          Timid in their lives and brave only in their art.

I can’t come unless I’m in love,
as much as I want to believe
this is what I want, I can’t trust
myself to have all the courage

this needs to succeed, if this is
indeed worth such trouble, humbled
as I am by your heart’s patience,
my needs make me think innocence

such as yours bleeds out when butchered
too much by my indecision’s
undercut of fervent fucks your
wonderfully passionate words

send up into the eaves, creeping
across our safe house when we walk
that throbbing line between keeping
silent and wanting, unzipping

our Selves, exposing each demons
teaching us both to suck sweetness
out of needing, eating seed from
hands our better judgment feeds one,

breeding in the bone not enough
when too much comes but can’t even
please us, rose-thorn eyes scratch across
unimpressed thighs as I give up,

the centerfold sight of your cock
falling, folding its divisive
wall, crumpling into itself, what
once was so rock-hard to shake off

sprawls upon the bedroom floor we
call ours, and I know this letter
will be read there, red as your knees
as you bawl, wondering if heat

after conjuring me up could
sustain what seemed a song of love
but was diminished by the fifth
Muse, Melpomene, whose firm hold

with her prettiest knife turned us
to tragedy in one slice, a
chorus of two bitter men whose
tune carried me to the tenth Muse.

So, rise good sir, and take my words
not harshly, but when again hard,
rub yourself gently, and pour out
libations to our last good night.

1Erica Jong, Fear of Flying, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973; page 109.