Working to be ready for my week as a Census enumerator trainer, I have delved again into the pot of available material already written to develop a post for today. Being consumed by bureaucracy must be stimulating my poetic sensibilities (or else poetry is the best escape) because todayʼs post is another poem. This one, however, may be R-rated. In these modern days I am not quite sure.
I have already embarrassed myself several times by printing here poems that seem too personal and too obvious. Once I even accidentally (was it a Freudian slip?) posted a poem I was only drafting. I have been thinking of posting this one for a while but have hesitated. Clearly it’s a bit too blatant in its subject matter; I’ve done better bowdlerizing these things in other poems and other posts. But like some of the other embarrassing poems I like this one. A lot. Lines and phrases from it have stuck in my memory for decades and may have shaped my thoughts and life, possibly sad to say. This one ties in with other posted verse connected intentionally or unconsciously to The White Goddess, and it comes from that same era when my first serious and important relationship dissolved and I was first teaching school and living as what I believed was an adult.
For the biographically overinterested, the subject is the same person as in my third discovered villanelle. (It is hard to believe that one incident—combined with a chaste, previous traumatic night in Pella—could so dominate my imagination for so long.) This poem is unfortunately more overt than that villanelle. Thus the title for today…
But letʼs provide some interpretation. No, maybe I had better not. The White Goddess link above (although it will include todayʼs post) provides enough interpretation by me. The rest is mere biography.
The Odyssey — both as I imagined it and as it really has become once I have read and reread the epic (annually in Advanced English) — has influenced my imagination for nearly ever. And Circe is a fascinating (and seductive) figure well beyond my own fevered thoughts. I have just applied her name for a Celtic witch, thus welding two concepts together (I wish). I am not trying to cast the speaker as Odysseus, however.
Another influence is the King Crimson Islands album, which owes its own debt to Homer.
I’ve tasted desire on the wet lips of Circe:
and cupped her small breast
in the palm of my hand (nipple
a nut, hard on the moistness
between the lines,
love’s and life)
firm cheeks and thighs slender,
well-muscled, arching her hips
toward me in darkness thick
with confusion. Oh, Circe,
fertile and eager, dark hair
softly selfwilled (in rings and curls,
black foam from cold oceans),
all sleek like an artist’s line,
moaning behind kisses
with deft fingers delicate and
a quickly sly tongue.
Circe makes love like the moon,
apocalyptic and pale
like distance flesh firmly denies,
desiring no more
than that animal body’s
womanhard subtle helical embraces.
after a particularly passionate community theater party — with no hope of Neanderthals in the third generation
22 September 1976
The poemʼs title is a pleasant pun. ‘Nuff said, okay?