Apricot Crop-Top (Polka-Dot Ascot, Ink-Blot Hot-Pants/Tie-Dyed Cut-Offs, Popped Squat)

          For Jess Wood—

                    i.

Closer to blows than embraces, kiss
after kiss colours through
its paleness this flesh no
one notices unless their words blush

its alabaster surface to full
flush, as if poking fun
at my oddness having
any chances at all with this broad

at once both dame and doll, fulfilling
wish simultaneous
priestess and prophetess
of my darkest, hottest fantasies,

humorous mistress, my jester, her
velvet whispers doing
severe injustice to
imitators and amateurs who

fear criticism yet attempt success
and fail by assumptions,
miss their mark, mistake hard
making a living by expression

                    ii.

for even seeming safe or being
sustainable, no, sirs,
exitainment demands
of its divisive conductors grit

thicker than exposed skin’s opened wounds,
Photoshopped, airbrushed, or
spraytanned, especially
when marketed by executives

to masses their mess, unpopular
opinions tending to
alienate, and she,
my mistress brave, paints with her sizzling

tongue those sparks of words too hard for some
to take, to bear having
heard said, a pox of lips,
incendiary things they’d rather

go away, and won’t, no, not when my
firebranding gal sings, brings
about change saying what
no one else will risk saying, save for

                    iii.

her admirers, artists ardent in
our bent to get with Jess
and what boldest strength her
liberty represents, tempted to

what others call sin but anyone
in on a punchline’s gut-
crushing hit instead of
at its intended receiving end

can comprehend as a blessing, yes,
and not just talented,
but fashionable, friends,
that apricot crop-top, polka-dot

ascot, ink-blot hot-pants/tie-dyed cut-
offs, popped squat needs-no-squad-
but-leads-them-all attitude
she cops when she walks from my thoughts and

stops my heart, shaken head shook, getting
Wood invigorates, takes
any pain, replaces
an aching soul’s vacancies with faith.