Learning to make the stations of the cross
I lingered at each beautified depiction
of God in pain, not knowing what it was
that stirred me. Not the sight of crucifixion,
but hip bones, creamy bare above the cloth.
Lean as a whippet was the Lord, and long;
His hips were boyish, and His skin was smooth;
and so I stared, compounding wrong with wrong
by sinning in my heart. But not alone;
there’s no mistaking it, I know that look,
the parted lips, the heavy-lidded eyes;
and you could almost hear the helpless groan
that rose from deep within Him, till He shook
and shook the walls of Heaven with His cries.
Blushing from horn to hoof, he smiles and strokes
his dark vandyke. Against those damson lips,
his big white teeth are dazzling, though he smokes.
He burns for you. You see it in his eyes,
that telling tuft of fur between his thighs,
the way he vamps. He uses brilliantine
to give his widow’s peak that blue-black sheen,
but never wears a stitch, his little nips
permanently exposed. He’s smooth as wine,
the kind that warms the drinker going down,
down to the grooves that join his narrow hips.
His legs are strong, his lap, angora-lined;
his tail’s a leathery, prehensile whip
tipped with a tiny tapered valentine.
He won the hearts of little boys in battle,
slaughtering Huns in splashy red detail
without a care, the grinning alpha male.
Me, I loved him best when he was chattel,
sold to a merchant, forced to do hard labor―
his lily vanity, for giving lip,
deflowered by the unforgiving whip.
I loved the soldier with a gleaming saber
aimed at his heart, the expert horseman thrown,
the sailor lost at sea, suffering trials
and tribulations like a man, not stone―
vulnerable, perhaps, to girlish wiles―
the wanderer shipwrecked, washing up alone,
unconscious, helpless, on the Misty Isles.
What could be more seductive than that nose
protruding like an oversize banana
between those bullwhip-tip mustachios?
He’s evil, ergo English, to the manor
born, genteel in toe-to-top-hat black,
and if you’re fond of bondage, you won’t find
him wanting. And those eyes! Demoniac
in their intensity; that one-track mind,
so blind with passion that it drives him mad;
but most of all his gall; the shameless pleasure
he takes in all things shameful... naughty... bad...
Oh, Snidely Whiplash! lash me at your leisure
with inch-thick hawsers to the railroad tracks!
And tell that meddling Do-Right to relax.
Burroughs stumbled on it unawares,
too busy worshipping his male ideal
to notice: the peculiar trait that snares
a woman’s heart, that makes us melt, the real
reason we envy Jane. It’s not the pecs,
the lion-killing prowess, or the lure
of Greystoke Manor. It’s akin to sex,
but simultaneously less and more:
the thrill of all he’s not. The speechless creature
emerging from the dark uncloaked, unshod,
untouched, untaught by any other teacher;
the babe in the woods behind the forest god
regarding us with innocent surprise,
a startling emptiness in his round eyes.