Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cold Pastoral

I hear a man jerking off at the Met
and straightaway remember you, O, Jack.
I'm flushed with sympathy, to tell the truth,
to hear him groan in the next stall for beauty
captured in voluptuous sculptured stone.
Who is this restroom seer, lover, man?

From hog farmers of Iowa, a man
aspiring to meet his muse? Instead he met
his fate of stunning listeners into stone
at Bowery Road Café. Blind, he jacks
off Perseus, in his mind, asserting beauty
in holding forth the Gorgon’s heady truth.

Or someone more acquainted with the truth
of streets: a skinny kid, almost a man,
from Harlem, pricked by the white muscled beauty
of Ugolino and his starvelings met
briefly in school? I hear him whimper, Jack,
inside his Tower of Hunger, beat off stone.

Or seeing Andromeda chained to stone,
the monster squeezing her in coils of truth
sprung from the sea, does he forget he’s Jack
afloat, on shore leave from his merchantman,
imagine flirting chance and courage met
to petrify the beast, rescue the Beauty?

Or a priest, drawn against himself to beauty
curled in a Cupid, who rebukes the stone
in flesh, the flesh in stone and, having met
himself, confesses to himself the truth?
Or, sick of buzz-saw talk among hard men
and licked by dancing Pan, a lumberjack?

Or is he one like me (unlike you, Jack),
stirred by a torso's mutilated beauty,
an echo of the whole, sufficient man
for him to recreate the missing stone.
His moan as he comes, if you want the truth,
excites me more than any man I’ve met.

I’m telling you, Jack, it's fine to gaze on stone,
but far more beautiful, far more truthful,
is the groaning man, unseen, unmet.

published in October 2005 in "The Rogue Scholars Collective" ed. Miriam Stanley (


Larry said...

It must be quite intimidating to have such a perfect and substancual poem in your resume' to hold up to anything else you write.

This one is the first JL poem I remember reading; BTW I thought Jee Leong was a woman for a week or two, which made this rumination on a masterbator (not intentional but it's a nice pun) even more exciting to me.



Mick of the Monde said...

I found this a tantalising piece of poetry; you seem to have fully grasped the neo-conventional of pastoral poetry, in that pastoral and its inevitable link to romanticism need not make it reactionary. Although you finish here with the beauty of the 'groaning man' being moreso than the 'stone', it seems to have come full circle: this is 'pastoral' in a more radical sense, i.e. man's ontological position in nature is not neccesarily at the pinnacle (the addition of mythological figures supports this), and yet you are reminded that man does still possess a degree of beauty. The imagery and manipulation of language are also very good. I could say more, but as I've merely stumbled across this, I wouldn't like to be presumptious. Inspiring poetry, pulse-raising words. Thankyou.