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from Erogenous Alphabet


Broad in both girth and humor and wanton as any
Babylonian, Miss Burlesque Duchess 2015 offers the spotlight a
Bedazzler’s plastic gems hammily winking along her crinoline.
Brows plucked into a Greek mask’s forced hilarity, she
brims over her corset, shimmying not pasties but
babydoll heads stuck on her nipples, then nearly
brains a guy in the splash zone with a tossed-off pump. He
balls up bills in an itchy fist as if the accident were a compliment,
blushing—liberally imbibing—a red to match her rosebud gob.
Belladonna’s sheen is no deadlier than her panties’ sateen.
Bared, she wobbles a curtsy, the discarded crinoline sadly tilting
but still standing, like a drunk with beautiful manners.




Krotala castanets crackle for his arrival, maenads reveling on an old-blood-colored
krater—dry now of wine, though Dionysus tips to sober, museum-polite me his
kantharos brimming over. Smooth-cheeked, he’s pretty as a slender doe.
Knavish satyrs, ludicrously priapic, leer at women arching spines and agape,
knuckling under for their twice-born master. He goads them to cumming or
keening, death ripe in his girl-god-man’s flesh. He’d slip, unmoved, a
knife as soon as a staff in your hand. I found him (?) once in the ladies’ room,
kingfisher-bright jumpsuit, hair like worn bronze, whose deep voice turned
kissy-lips of making-up matrons to scandalized O’s. The god concealed whatever
knowledge she had of pain and desire behind the powder she dabbed on her brow—
King in black goatskin, Raw-Eater, Flowerer, Lord of the Loud Cry—
keeping her mysteries close, only a small blade in, “Dear, what interesting shoes!”




Your you wafts like reefer through this summer concert, like the guitars
yowling cock-rock power-chords. Barbed in white pinwheels,
yearning might strike me with a migraine’s dazzle and vertigo,
yoke me to a body sloughing off its ordinariness. The creased, Wells Farg-bro
yuppie slugging craft beer even blossoms, suddenly fuckable, when his lips
yawn fatly like an indulged Byron. Nothing holy about this, but you, the one not
yet touched, keep suffering your bedraggled apotheosis. On park benches,
yeast anoints the skin of the sleepers, while drunk moms, haunches packed into
yoga pants, undulate in their dance’s sloppy mysteries. A man once told me,
“You’re better than this,” removing my hands from his hips, but I’m the
Ys mermaid, sans merci, I’m Circe and Salome, I’m not better than this. I say
yes to you, the polymorphous you of couplets and coupling, of the finale’s
“You Shook Me All Night Long” and beefy hips jostling out of time.



Ashley Keyser’s poems have appeared in Pleiades, The Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Drunken Boat, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago, is working on a series of alphabetized erotic poems, and tends a website at ashleykeyser.com.