Friday, February 1, 2013

Diane Stevenson

I suppose the droop of that lily 
could be the swoop of a dress... the
silk of a Chinese courtesan
the sway of her
shoulders -- the way
she rearranges
for a lover about to enter
the room,
and the silk slips
down her neck, its sound
as subtle
as the steps
she takes
towards the lover
who is slipping
into her room,
both silences
like the petals
of a lily
as if its petals
were slippers
dropped before
a bed on a carpet
of silk
the woman's feet
silk, the man's hand
silk on her silk

No, it's not enough to have said
it's beautiful:
its color
or the way
its petals
curve under
(the breast of a woman
the lip of a penis)
the ivory smooth, silk touch
of a man sliding into a woman
her lips, his lip
his penis against the
the smooth wet ivory
of her lips
the mouth of her color
its petals

The curtain surrounds a chair
like mosquito netting
around a bed
(billowing around the pillow)
such nonsense, and yet
the quiet, sear (and sheer)

of those thin
like the hands
of the dead

so unrelated
to the living
What do I mean?

It's an exquisite death
that thin sheer cloth
(no, "silk," it requires a
softer name in order
to name its softness)

the cut into thin air
the haze-white assertion
almost prone on a chair
(a woman in summer, her nap?
her arms? her sleep?)

Who is that curtain?
Who is that chair?
Whose sleep is that death?
Whose death does the haze-white coffin move
in a room
in front of the window's wind
around a chair
as if the chair
were a lover
and the curtain
this lover's lover's arms.

Which death?
Which sleep?

Whose arms?

blare blare blaring
glare glare glaring
stare stare staring
the more the garish
the less we perish
the underside and over
the greeny bliss and clover

Do you think it's spring?
Do you think it's spring?

I don't think a thing
I don't think at all
I don't think the same
I don't think it's fall

Is it hot?

No it's not.

white glare

white blare

white stare
of white snow

now you know 

miss and mistake
bliss and blister
sis and system
piss and pistol
hiss and hysteric
kiss and Kentucky
hope and pray
vinegar and oil
side and walk
can and spray
oak and seed
want and need
mill and grist
cup and tea
spot and less
hot and cold water
for and sake
fish and steak
chip and fish
steam and spew
boil and grill
sit and still
for and ever
now and never.


It looks like pale blue 
cloth slashed and in tatters
it looks like a pale blue
rainbow with rims of pink --
hot pink almost hot orange --
the water looks dyed
the woman's hair looks dyed
Her hair looks like
pale blue cloth painted red
Her hair stands red
the water

It looks like an old man's beard
draped over a multi-folded
this is no emaciated man
this is a man
who ate and drank and
had women
on his lap and on his
knee one at a time
or more
a man in a rut
a man who ruts
a man with a gut
whose downhill
race is a blue-gray
grace because
at bottom
sitting on the
bottom on the tip
of his hair is
a woman with red hair
in a black bikini
Her finger is in his mouth
Her foot is in his mouth
but, then, I've only
imagined the water as
a beard and the man
lying upside down,

Green leaves coalesce like ideas
into a form like trees
You can almost count them (the forms)
as various and varicose
as the veins
in the legs
of a woman
whose thigh is turning
blue because her feet
are blue
in blue water
(You can't see her feet;
you see only opaque
blue but the feet
are there
or they
Where are her feet?
Where is the form
the whole thing is a
bit tawdry
the colors are tawdry
the skin is tawny
her toes are blue.
her toe nails are blue
though they might
be red under the blue
if they're really
under the blue
if her feet are really
under water, that is
is she's real
and not just
tinted: if she rises
and when she rises
her toes
are rose.

Why is the still blue
so much
than the rushing blue
the headlong blue
the subway blue
the mail train blue
the rain rain rain blue
why is blue not
the same blue when
still as when

The Chinese character is red
the rocks are red
her hair is red
and in this order:
red character
her hair
red rocks
from dark to light
from bright to brown
from up to down to middle
to green and blue and black
black and blue she isn't
though her bikini is black
and her feet
in blue
her feet are set in water
her feet are set
to the music of the
water, its pool
its cool
its blue
like music down scales
like music scaling rocks
like rocks
and scales
and pails of water
like a woman's hair
like light against dark
or dark against light
like cold fingers
(and warm hands)
like cold feet
like a woman at the bottom
of a water fall
falling falling falling
except for the spray
she catches in her hand
and holds with her feet.
(She holds the fall
like hair



© Gilberto Perez                                             

Diane Stevenson is the author of The Beauty Shop Monologues (Four Zoas, 1976). Her poems have appeared in various magazines, including Boulevard, Four Zoas Journal, Lingo, and Pataphysics. She has an M.F.A. in poetry and a Ph. D. in American literature, both from Columbia University, where she did her dissertation with the late Edward Said. She has written articles for The Nation, The Mississippi Review, Studies in the Humanities, New Observations, Cineaste, The Yale Review, Film International, and other journals. She lives in Mississippi.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Diane, I hope this finds you well. I just discovered Gil's passing. Please accept my condolences. You can find my email address if you enter my name in the search engine Kofi Forson at At the end of my list of articles is my email address. Please get in touch with me. I would love to know how you are. Best, Kofi