Whither Men Scarce Ever Come

The universe, the ancient cabbalists believed,
is not contingent on our reading it;
only on the possibility of our reading it.


Brown and awful, caramel chars
the edge of the orchid’s wilting petal,

so called from the Greek
for testicle, a biker’s lighter’s fluid ignites

pastel to translucent, shrivelling the
swell of colour to an ashen scroll,

spoiling experience with wisdom,
a conflagration conflating vellum with parchment, its

curdled milk of purple satin
no less royal spent in a prolonged,

unapologetic instant of cindering indecision,
resistance is experimenting, an incendiary session decency’s

secrecy would bind anyone with
any respectability to never ever mention so

publicly, the ivory bowl beneath
its bend opened like a fly’s zipper

revealing a one-eyed head ready
as a Cyclops enticing Odysseus into his

cavern to receive its melting
end, to devour heroically its ritual’s last


candle, to cradle what results
from the spell, dripping wax apolitical as

a hostel shower against cracked
honeycombed tiled walls tired hands of strange

travelers tied to one another
pound as rain does, ecstatic, wailing evanescent

glossolalias of exasperated incantations no
demagoguery can translate into rhetoric but must

be accepted as-is, the free-spirited,
pure-sputtered, bawdiest expressions of impure sentiments elevating

debauch to an ideal of
love no one else wants, water scattered

like yellow pollen drowning the
sound of strangers chained like infidel daisies

to each other’s mouths, finishing
off like grey-eyed fishes impersonal Atlantics of

slippery dicks as if every
inch was closer to fathoming the infinite,

a drenched garden of unguarded
flesh scented with the musk of death’s


dusky lament for a distant
Atlantis divergent men reverence whenever together they

come, a gathering of Whitman’s
initiates Baudelairean as they are Epicurean, horse-hung

men Ichabod Craning their necks
to fit in their evening meal, penciling

in unscheduled deviance, stems erupting
into anonymous confections no flowery appendages can

remedy of the truth its
filthy context, whither men scarce ever come

I have ventured, extended to
its ferryman the coins of my downcast

eyes as I entered, and
not for the first time, this Lethe

of some ancient city’s netherworld,
banqueting on bouquets of flame tasting of

this pasquinade whose statuesque interlocutors
my mutual desire entertained without an iota

of shame, refraining not from
repeating its interlude, again I fragrance my


canon’s pages with an indelicate
opium only connoisseurs of the indecent can

appreciate, speaking, of course, of
eating the sort of lotus one opens

with one’s tongue as much
as one’s mind, upon a blossoming throne

into a calyx bereft of
wine I have sat and been sated

by, tossing off into his
chalice this white of mine any man

desirous of spoiling us both
spending our salad days roasting in some

sauna too Byzantine to describe
for outsiders, oh, for a taste of

moonlight have I slummed and
somehow survived, having scorched the lily of

my innocence and theirs just
to write of what such forbidden libidinous

delight feels like, to spite
inhibition describing a lifestyle without endorsing one.

1Alberto Manguel, “The Library as Survival” in The Library at Night, published at Toronto by Alfred A. Knopf Canada in 2006; page 237.