Spring Fever II: Adult Content

April 30, 2013 § 1 Comment


One of my devoted fans, after reading Sunday’s entry, asked for one of my sexual memories. It’s a fair request. I took a walk yesterday afternoon and thought about it.

The park in the rain was a soft green, almost empty of people, so different from the frothy party of the weekend when there was a man playing a piano in one corner, a trio with a saxophone in the other, college students on the grass, children and dogs, couples strolling, mimes and dancers.

The emptiness made the spring leaves and blossoms more poignant: what happens as it must, whether you join in or not. What will happen in 1000 years (though possibly further north).

When I lived in Berkeley, in my 20s, one night Charles was out playing music, as he was nearly seven days a week, and I went to a bar. I did that not every night or week, but on some sort of emotional schedule. I had several drinks and went home with a good-looking boy named Randy. Randy was 5’10 or ’11 with tousled sandy hair and a big grin. He drank like a pro.

He was very taken with my breasts. Once he had me naked, he squeezed and stroked and kissed—I lay back, lazy as a cat—and then he said, overcome with enthusiasm, “I have to do more!”

“Okay. What?”

“I don’t know.” He thought for a while. His big, pale body was mostly hairless above his genitals. He was well-built and fit in the way men are before they have to work at it. “I’ll chain them up. Is that okay?”

This was pre-Internet. He got his ideas from magazines.

I laughed. “Whatever you want.” I was drowsy by then. I liked being touched. I liked being touched by different men, especially strangers. Charles knew this and minded, but not so much that he tried to make me stop. I was ashamed of hurting him, but I did it anyway.

Randy got a bicycle chain, brand-new and clean, and wrapped it around my breasts so they were forced together, imprisoned chubby sisters. “I like that,” he said.

“What are you going to do now?” I had a tiny (very tiny) fear that he’d want to actually tie me up, hands behind my back, etc, which I didn’t want. Nor did I want to argue or struggle. I remember that night because it was innocent in its sensuality in a way that I no longer was, but still thought I could return to.

“Nothing,” he said. “I just want to look. You’re amazing.”

I don’t know whether he said “amazing.” I want to put the word “awesome” in his mouth, but it was before that coinage. But he was genuinely awestruck, which is something that also seems vintage. I was a pretty & busty young woman, but he was no mutt. The young men nowadays…or so I’m told….

He spent some time just walking around me, smoking a joint and admiring what he had wrought. (Charles loves this part of the story. He makes me invent details.) Yes, we went on to have intercourse, like everyone else. I hardly remember that part.

I can still feel the chain: the cold metal; the pressure; the feeling of being bound in a way that didn’t constrain my movements; and the dreamy, stoned smile on his face.


“Raspberry-colored nipples,” somebody else used to say. He liked to say the same things over and over, like applying layers of paint.

My girlfriend, when I confided this, responded in the time-honored way of girlfriends. I was changing clothes in her room. “Your nipples aren’t raspberry-colored.” Her tone was mildly indignant.

“Not now, they aren’t.”

“I think he’s wearing rose-colored glasses.”

“We tend to dally in the rosy evening light.”

“Or you put lipstick on them.”

“I tried that once. Charles took pictures.”

“Charles would,” she said.

But that was another decade altogether.

Lighthead’s Guide to the Galaxy

Ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and children of the state,
I am here because I could never get the hang of Time.
This hour, for example, would be like all the others
were it not for the rain falling through the roof.
I’d better not be too explicit. My night is careless
with itself, troublesome as a woman wearing no bra
in winter. I believe everything is a metaphor for sex.
Lovemaking mimics the act of departure, moonlight
drips from the leaves. You can spend your whole life
doing no more than preparing for life and thinking.
“Is this all there is?” Thus, I am here where poets come
to drink a dark strong poison with tiny shards of ice,
something to loosen my primate tongue and its syllables
of debris. I know all words come from preexisting words
and divide until our pronouncements develop selves.
The small dog barking at the darkness has something to say
about the way we live. I’d rather have what my daddy calls
“skrimp.” He says “discrete” and means the street
just out of sight. Not what you see, but what you perceive:
that’s poetry. Not the noise, but its rhythm; an arrangement
of derangements; I’ll eat you to live: that’s poetry.
I wish I glowed like a brown-skinned pregnant woman.
I wish I could weep the way my teacher did as he read us
Molly Bloom’s soliloquy of yes. When I kiss my wife,
sometimes I taste her caution. But let’s not talk about that.
Maybe Art’s only purpose is to preserve the Self.
Sometimes I play a game in which my primitive craft fires
upon an alien ship whose intention is the destruction
of the earth. Other times I fall in love with a word
like somberness. Or moonlight juicing naked branches.
All species have a notion of emptiness, and yet
the flowers don’t quit opening. I am carrying the whimper
you can hear when the mouth is collapsed, the wisdom
of monkeys. Ask a glass of water why it pities
the rain. Ask the lunatic yard dog why it tolerates the leash.
Brothers and sisters, when you spend your nights
out on a limb, there’s a chance you’ll fall in your sleep.

Terrance Hayes

Spring Fever

April 28, 2013 § 3 Comments


Tulips used to be small, elegant flowers. My mother had them in her garden, and I was taught to respect them. I don’t remember what she said, but I got the idea that in the hierarchy of flowers—we also had daffodils and roses, well-spaced in crumbly, rich soil—tulips were king. They were always red.

Now they’re leggy, blooms as big as wine glasses: the wine glasses of today, I mean, the enormous ones you find in fancy restaurants. These wide open flowers, languorous, ripe, with their shiny black stamens, are orange and pink, white, yellow, purple, red, bi-colored. They surround every tree in my neighborhood and occupy big swathes of the parks. Their long stems make me think of climbing trees as a child (while daydreaming about swinging from vines in jungles), and their blossoms make me think of sex.

You, too, I bet. Flowers are sexy. I would like a bed of tulip petals, white and crimson, and the windows wide open, and…

Old women write the best erotica. I say this with no evidence, except that it must be true, or it will be true. I spent puberty with an array of imaginative dirty books, stealing them from bookstores when I was 12 and 13, or borrowing them from my parents’ library: reading stories that are still way beyond the acceptable, even now when BDSM is discussed in women’s magazines as a way of spicing up your sex life. It used to be black lace underwear, whipped cream, oral sex. Now it’s power play, very carefully explained as having nothing to do with real life, male/female relations, social equality, and so forth.

No, sex has always stays tamely in bed, never tags along on the job, on the family visit, on the walk through the park at night. It means nothing but itself. They say it’s useful for making babies. Cosmo has the answers, or your favorite advice columnist.

Who believes that?

Along with the dirty books of my youth—which I no longer own but don’t need to; they’re graven on my gray matter—I have sexy emails from several men (while Charles and I were separated) and, courtesy of She Who Must Not Be Named, forwarded emails from my old lover to my successor, full of desire, detail and lament.

This is just to say
Thank you for the anal sex at Christmas.
It was delicious
So sweet
And so cold.

(OK, probably not cold.)

I have my library. In my computer, in my head. Aging adults in bondage to love, eating punishment like candy. Charles, who’s a different story, devoted but never abject. The men who speak to me on the streets, which is as far as I go with flirting (a smile, a wish that he, too, have a good day), acknowledgement that desire is always present, that it rises from the earth, flings itself from flowers, sparking wishes that I put into words, here and secretly.

Children feel it, the elderly feel it, neutered cats and dogs feel it, and of all of you, my readers, how many are content?

Life has other things to offer. But it’s a good thing the devil doesn’t ask us for our soul too often. The soul grows back, you know, like a long fall of shining hair. You can sell it again. Who dares?


Graceful son of Pan! Around your forehead crowned
with small flowers and berries, your eyes, precious
spheres, are moving. Spotted with brownish wine lees,
your cheeks grow hollow. Your fangs are gleaming. Your
chest is like a lyre, jingling sounds circulate between your
blond arms. Your heart beats in that belly where the double
sex sleeps. Walk at night, gently moving that thigh,
that second thigh and that left leg.

Arthur Rimbaud

translated by John Ashbery

Ode to Spring

I can only find words for.
And sometimes I can’t.
Here are these flowers that stand for.
I stand here on the sidewalk.

I can’t stand it, but yes of course I understand it.
Everything has to have meaning.
Things have to stand for something.
I can’t take the time. Even skin-deep is too deep.

I say to the flower stand man:
Beautiful flowers at your flower stand, man.
I’ll take a dozen of the lilies.
I’m standing as it were on my knees

Before a little man up on a raised
Runway altar where his flowers are arrayed
Along the outside of the shop.
I take my flames and pay inside.

I go off and have sexual intercourse.
The woman is the woman I love.
The room displays thirteen lilies.
I stand on the surface.

Frederic Seidel


Let’s Get Wet

April 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Foster Lake Union

fjord III.1013
Fjord III

Fredericka Foster paints water. Her new show at the Fischbach gallery on 11th Avenue is only that: water and more water, given shape by light and shadow.

You know how when you stare at a body of water—ocean, river, lake, doesn’t matter—you feel both stillness and motion at the same time, the change unchanging? That paradox is what Foster paints, and the hook is the same hook water has; you keep looking to see what’s dominant, the verve or the peace, the bright day in the open air or the quiet in the well of the soul.

When I look at her paintings, I feel a certain tension, wanting her to make a choice—to show me a storm at sea, shipwreck; or the utter stillness in the eye of creation.

But she paints what she paints, and the show is very soothing. No, it’s exhilarating. It teeter-totters. It made me a little antsy. It made me want to get wet.

Later, we went to dinner at her loft in Soho: a lovely evening of delicious food, wine and interesting people. Many of them were artists who were included in the 2011 Cathedral The Value of Water exhibition, which Fredericka curated. It was nice to see all those faces again.

One man was talking to us about a trip to the Arctic he and his wife, the artist Diane Burko, are taking this summer. There are special cruises for scientists and artists. He was encouraging us to apply, and I would so much like to do that. He was also discussing close encounters with polar bears; when he said bears were the dominant predator in the Arctic and I said, what about humans? he stared at me blankly. Of course there are places where no humans hunt, but we have more subtle means of predation. So subtle, apparently, that Andy Revkin of the Times thinks that our biggest climate change problem is fear-mongering. Are the people are around you scared silly, frozen in despair? I didn’t think so. We’re sedated by surfeit.

My brother told me a few months ago that when he was in college he wrote in a paper that the earth would be better off without humans, and the teacher suggested counseling. Today, she’d probably see him as a would-be Adam Lanza.

I’m not really changing the subject. Fredericka is deeply involved in the fight against climate change, and her paintings remind us of what is more beautiful and necessary than money. And yet…I, too, want things.

For example, I’d like to live by the water again. A small house by a lake, with a flagstone terrace facing the water, cherry trees on one side, lilacs on the other; an old-fashioned kitchen with vanilla-painted cupboards, formica counters, a band of painted tiles (green and yellow flowers) all around the room, and a walk-in pantry; two bedrooms with high ceilings; a library without windows; and a screened porch at the back edged with flowerbeds, surrounded by tall trees.

I haven’t said much about the lake, have I? I need the house first. Then I’ll go outside and watch the wind on the ever-advancing waves: in sunlight, moonlight, dawn and inky darkness. I’ll think about Fredericka’s paintings and the colors of the stones where the waves break. I’ll stop thinking.

I can do this in the city. Theoretically. But let me paint my word pictures of water. I lived on a lake once.
“…always night and day/I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;/While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,/I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”

I’ve already used that poem in this blog. Here’s another one.

Elegy in Limestone

If the water, everywhere, and if she

is. If ghosts, like water, like if all

rivers and oceans and rains are one

ghost, surrounding and throughout.

If she is, like if the lakes and bays

of Seattle define Seattle, if the ices

Of Mars and Massachusetts,

hidden in their deep stones, define

Mars and Massachusetts; if she is.

A thirst unmet, alkaline or saline,

the water not touching that thirst,

if my thirst wants something else

entirely. If she is. Water, if it is in

and is blood. If invisible until

exhale. If science lies and water

doesn’t reflect sky but sky this

water. If she is the sound, if it isn’t

essential until its lack. If she is

the sound of. Waves. If in the body,

the dew in morning, and the moon.

If she is the sound of the water.

If rising, if breaking, if throughout.

CJ Evans

From the Cape of Good Hope

April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

Convoy (Trade)

Can’t find the title of this one…

I had an astonishing day last Friday, starting at the Cathedral, where South African artist Jane Alexander’s sculptures have taken root. The exhibition, Surveys (From the Cape of Good Hope), organized by The Museum for African Art, comprises photographs and figures,with the photographs depicting the figures in various landscapes. Alexander’s fiberglass figures–creatures–beings–are most often described as human-animal hybrids: eerie, disturbing, eloquent. They’re characters from that realm of half sleep where we dream our thoughts, the ugly social/political realities of the day entwined with the body’s more immediate awareness: I hunger, I lust, I fear, I punish.

After having seen a few art exhibitions at the Cathedral, I don’t know why artists would ever want to show in a gallery or museum. The soaring stone, the granite columns, the old wood, the sun filtering through stained glass, the bays and chapels and altar, the great shout of this immense space—these don’t diminish the power or delicacy of art; they give it a world to expand into.

Alexander’s figures seem particularly at home, so much so that I almost believe that when the show is taken down, a couple of the more agile creatures will slip away and hide in the crypt or attic, to be glimpsed now and then but never captured.

Perhaps I’ve read too many stories where statues, dolls, scarecrows, likenesses in paint or clay come to life, spooky but lovable. Alexander’s art tells different, darker stories. She grew up in South Africa during apartheid and her figures are people stripped of their humanity, clinging to it and losing it, diminished by oppression, just as the oppressors give away their humanity for privilege and profit.

We say humanity as if it’s a good thing. I think ‘animal’ is a good thing, too. These hybrids are not disturbing because they resemble both people and animals—such imagined beings can be any kind of beautiful—they embody the emotions behind such words as “inhuman,” “subhuman,” “brutal,” “monster.” What doesn’t exist in nature, what we have dreamed up and love to visit and embellish, the origin story for the destruction of individuals/peoples that somehow elides mention of money or power: this story is itself monstrous—all id; it is also fertile ground for art.

The animal is a familiar metaphor for our worst aspects (as it is for our innocence and sensuality), but the central idea in Alexander’s work is the process of deformity, and more subtly, the terror of change. The word “transformative” is used a lot these days, in a hopeful manner, but as the Greeks knew, transformation is not always to one’s benefit. A woman can give birth to a Minotaur or be turned into a cow. What we treasure most, and what leads to the greatest despair, is those moments and days when it seems as if nothing is changing.

I saw the exhibition on a beautiful spring afternoon, surrounded by good people (including Jane Alexander, who is gracious and charming, and more interested in talking about what others see in her art than what she ‘intends’), then took a long walk with Lisa and her dog Ellis, punctuated by tea and cake at an outdoor café.

It was a joyous afternoon, and perhaps for that reason, while the exhibition made me think first of human brutality—what goes on in every corner of the world that some of us are lucky enough not to experience or even witness—what persisted was thoughts about personhood: my experience of self, that homey, second presence that tells me I’m me.

Memories of childhood consciousness swam up all evening: delight in my unquantifiable identity, how familiar and strange it was, how much I liked being in this skin and life with my own peculiar perspective. To remember all that so vividly was a gift.

Depression makes the self threadbare. I’ve got sturdier garments now.

Go see the exhibition. It will be up through July 29, 2013.

Metamorphoses: first verses

Now I am ready to tell how bodies are changed
Into different bodies.

I summon the supernatural beings
Who first contrived
The transmogrifications
In the stuff of life.
You did it for your own amusement.
Descend again, be pleased to reanimate
This revival of those marvels.
Reveal, now, exactly
How they were performed
From the beginning
Up to this moment.

Before sea or land, before even sky
Which contains all,
Nature wore only one mask–
Since called Chaos.
A huge agglomeration of upset.
A bolus of everything–but
As if aborted.
And the total arsenal of entropy
Already at war within it.

No sun showed one thing to another,
No moon
Played her phases in heaven,
No earth
Spun in empty air on her own magnet,
No ocean
Basked or roamed on the long beaches.

Land, sea, air, were all there
But not to be trodden, or swum in.
Air was simply darkness.
Everything fluid or vapour, form formless.
Each thing hostile
To every other thing: at every point
Hot fought cold, moist dry, soft hard, and the weightless
Resisted weight.

God, or some such artist as resourceful,
Began to sort it out.
Land here, sky there,
And sea there.
Up there, the heavenly stratosphere.
Down here, the cloudy, the windy.
He gave to each its place,
Independent, gazing about freshly.
Also resonating–
Each one a harmonic of the others,
Just like the strings
That would resound, one day, in the dome of the tortoise.

-Ovid, translated by Ted Hughes.

Lisa had to sit outside the café fence because NYC laws require dogs to be tied up there. Ellis wouldn’t stand it without her. Later, they snuck back under the barrier.

Earth Day, 2013

April 22, 2013 § 1 Comment



I’d forgotten how beautiful the tulips and the cherry blossoms are in Washington Square Park. They’re even more beautiful than an upside down marmalade cat, or dark chocolate in tin foil leaning against a stack of novels.

Today was Earth Day and I walked in the early evening sunlight, the almost-full moon visible in the pale blue sky, remembering the first Earth Day in 1970—how my mother let me go to my first rally because it wasn’t an antiwar protest and she thought it was safe.

Over a million people showed up in New York that day. Mayor Lindsay stopped traffic on Fifth Avenue and lent Central Park to the Earth lovers. I don’t remember anything that was said, or even if I could hear it; just the feeling of standing there in my blue jeans, 15 years old, experiencing the first political emotion that came from my gut. I was against the war, but the war wasn’t real to me the way fouled rivers and dead animals were. I knew that, in the long run, it was a bigger story than the war.

Not that I would have believed that if I had a brother in Vietnam. But I didn’t. My brother, from whose lips I first heard the word “Vietnam,” when I was nine and had no idea our country was attempting a Colonial-style smackdown, was already dead. I was almost used to it after five years. I was worried about the Earth.

I still am. I’m not obsessing about the way I was this fall. It’s just there, the knowledge, the sadness. I don’t like thinking about the children except as they are now, healthy and loved and still oblivious. Jaden and Jack, Daniel, Hannah and Myles and William. Six inquisitive minds, six varieties of imagination, thoughtfulness, kindness. I hope they grow up as strong as these big tulips in the half-light of a Monday afternoon.

We went to Union Square earlier today, looking for what was supposed to be an Earth Day event. Nothing was there but the usual: the farmer’s market, street music, flowers, a couple of people sleeping. “It looks like Earth to me,” said Charles.” We bought four carrots and a rutabaga.

Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

–William Butler Yeats

Good Day, Sunshine

April 15, 2013 § 3 Comments


I’ve been more or less depressed my whole life, but I’ve never before experienced coming out of a severe depression. The last time I was this ill, I was a child, and my depression lifted slowly. The September of 9th grade was the turning point—but 9th grade was the turning point in so many other ways, and my brain was growing like a mad weed.

This time, the ascent from hell has no competition for my attention. All the things I’ve read and never experienced now make sense: the world becoming three-dimensional again, colors returning, parts of my self I thought gone forever piping up with opinions as I read, think, stare into space, assess the aching body, the day’s demands, and other unthrilling material.

Knowing how the brain works, I’m sure this phase of buoyant memory and sudden identification with happy people will pass and I’ll be the same old curmudgeon-capable-of-joy I’ve always been. But not the desperate, suicidal person. Not her anymore. Goodbye, goodbye.

Thanks to Charles, Fitzroy, Mouchette, spring, my mother, all my friends and Facebook buddies. Thanks to deadlines, which always take precedence. Thanks to my vanity and thriftiness, which paired up to say: You can’t kill this body; it’s still pretty and it works. Thanks to the necessary cupcakes, which I can now do without. Thanks to poetry and coffee and sunlight and snow. Thanks to God, who exists or doesn’t, with or without horns, sexuality or powers; who floats above/beneath/inside us holding the love and praise of a billion people and the secret prayers of The Order of Goats, who have a small rocky monastery in the Scottish Highlands.


It was hard for me to decide to post this. Depression is what nags me to write, to adorn it with sentences that perform crowd-pleasing acrobatics; happiness and contentment don’t care. More, I fear that to admit I feel fine is to set up expectations I can’t fulfill. The loss still hurts (and always will), so the possibility that I will again put on my raccoon makeup and go slumming in despair is not to be sneezed at.

Don’t you love English idioms? That one just popped into my head. In terms of meaning it’s perfectly adequate, but it’s silly. And where did it come from? Was there ever a time when the sight or thought of something unwanted or unlikely made people sneeze? I suppose it was a euphemism for something more vulgar, and now we keep using it out of habit.

This blog is my habit and I shall wear it with pleasure.

I want to write.
I want to frolic.
I want to eat at Rouge Tomate, a midtown restaurant I heard about from a book on the horrors of processed food. Rouge Tomate is a favorite of one of the talented food scientists who makes soybean oil taste like oranges and truffles, and gets her ideas from chefs who create flavor the old fashioned way. The book is called Pandora’s Lunchbox and it’s by Melanie Warner.

Time to get to work.


I watched the arctic landscape from above
and thought of nothing, lovely nothing.
I observed white canopies of clouds, vast
expanses where no wolf tracks could be found.

I thought about you and about the emptiness
that can promise one thing only: plenitude—
and that a certain sort of snowy wasteland
bursts from a surfeit of happiness.

As we drew closer to our landing,
the vulnerable earth emerged among the clouds,
comic gardens forgotten by their owners,
pale grass plagued by winter and the wind.

I put my book down and for an instant felt
a perfect balance between waking and dreams.
But when the plane touched concrete, then
assiduously circled the airport’s labryinth,

I once again knew nothing. The darkness
of daily wanderings resumed, the day’s sweet darkness,
the darkness of the voice that counts and measures,
remembers and forgets.

Adam Zagajewski
translated by Clare Cavanagh

Of Chicken Pies and Horned Gods

April 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

Moses. Michelangelo

Moses. Michelangelo

Lovely belated birthday dinner last night with Janet and Ethan. My sweet poet friend had been at a reading at KGB featuring many of her students, which I wanted to attend, but I was too tired. Brain full of fog, aching to be stronger. We met in front of the bar, in the light spring rain.

The French bistro Janet had in mind had too long a wait, so we went wandering and came upon a spacious, comfortable, completely empty bar-restaurant on Avenue A. I was doubtful—utterly empty at 9:30 on a Friday night in a trendy NYC neighborhood is more than a little suspicious—but Janet was seduced by the words “chicken pot pie” so we went in. The choices were meager, but the food was good. My chicken curry was comprised of sizable chunks of meat with a mild, flavorful sauce, not too sweet, not too greasy, served on fries. I would have preferred rice, but this was an Irish curry. The pot pie was a sheet of puff pastry floating on a chicken casserole. Why don’t chefs understand that a pie is a pocket, a closet, a locked box, and therein lies its appeal? Chicken pie is comfort food, safe, but there’s always the faint chance of four and twenty blackbirds if the crust’s crimped tightly, nothing but steam escaping.

I think the pot pie was alright. I tasted the pastry. My mother made better. I can say this about most things. I was annoyed that there was only one choice of white wine, and no bread. My days of sumptuous dining are behind me. But I liked the quiet and the dim, cool space.

And the company was just right. I almost convinced Janet and Ethan to move to Panama with us, that paradise of low rent, cheap health insurance, two oceans, and lots of toucans. Janet almost convinced me to go to Mississippi with her to offer moral support as she researches Evangelicals for the novel she’s writing. (In Mississippi people raise the red heifers believed to herald the Last Days.) The deal-breaker came when she said she’s going in August.

I was slightly disappointed, in the name of America as the Home of Ignorance, when she told me I misremembered a story she’d told me years ago. My memory was that, while on a bus going to Lynchburg, Virginia, she and her friend got into conversation with a Southern woman, a nurse, who finally said, “Are y’all Jews?” She’d never met one (or so she thought). “Do Jews believe in God?” That part I remembered correctly. But my fiction-making mind had embellished the next part. My story was that the woman asked if she could see Janet’s horns. In fact, she merely said that she’d been taught as a child that Jews had horns.

I don’t mean to make light of Janet’s deep discomfort. She was born little more than a decade after the defeat of the Nazis. Anti-Semitism is no joke. But I was raised on different stories and even now would be quite happy to wake up one morning with horns (assuming they were small enough not to interfere with doorways and pillows).

Janet told me the myth of Jews having horns stemmed from a mistranslation regarding Moses, but a little Google research reveals a more tangled situation. Many scholars believe that Yahweh had the horns of an ox (or unicorn!).

The Canaanite gods Baal and El were horned bull gods as was, originally, Yahveh, which is why horns decorate the altar described in Exodus 27.”
– Wikipedia

So Yahweh resembled the horned gods of pre-Christian Europe, the stag-god, the Green Man, the Lord of the Wood, for whom I would have lain my silky, naked teenage body—in the pagan era of the early 1970’s— on the forest floor.

The great invention of the Jews, monotheism, took time. Delve into the history of Yahweh and you find yourself in a thicket of competing Semitic gods, which does a lot to explain Yahweh’s control issues. But back to the question of horns. Here’s a quote from a website called The Gates of Hell, maintained by Jason Nicholas Korning, who describes himself as a Roman/Ukrainian Catholic scholar and writer.

“One of the most fundamental issues concerning the God of the Holy Bible is His appearance. What does God look like? After thoroughly investigating the available research, a tentative conclusion can be reached. God is a giant, barbaric, bearded, circumcised male sorcerer that stands between 50-100 feet tall, perhaps even larger. Most importantly, He has horns upon each side of His forehead, like a ram or a goat, but in all other respects resembles a fiercely handsome adult male.” After citing a number of Biblical passages and scholarly interpretations, he concludes, “For this reason, the image of God having horns has remained somewhat of a secret over the centuries. It has been passed down from generation to generation, from father to son, by word of mouth commonly known as the oral tradition…. Some believers may become confused or even angry that the God of the Holy Bible has hidden the fact that He has horns from so many of His loyal and devout followers throughout the centuries. One reason may be because He considered it unimportant or because Zeus, the evil, sexually perverted, Pagan god without horns, has tried to usurp God’s place in the minds of men by trying to convince everyone that only Satan has horns. The fact remains that Zeus is not YHVH, the God of Israel and never will be. Just as his son Apollo, a savage homosexual, was no Jesus Christ and never will be.”

Oh, dear. The Celtic horned god, my pagan love interest, was probably also sexually perverted. Wait, I knew that already. All the men I’ve found attractive in my life were sexually…I wouldn’t say perverted…rebellious. Very rebellious. But none of them were gods and none had horns, and life continually disappoints the sensual woman.

In the Park

You have forty-nine days between
death and rebirth if you’re a Buddhist.
Even the smallest soul could swim
the English Channel in that time
or climb, like a ten-month-old child,
every step of the Washington Monument
to travel across, up, down, over or through
–you won’t know till you get there which to do.

He laid on me for a few seconds
said Roscoe Black, who lived to tell
about his skirmish with a grizzly bear
in Glacier Park. He laid on me not doing anything. I could feel his heart
beating against my heart.
Never mind lie and lay, the whole world
confuses them. For Roscoe Black you might say
all forty-nine days flew by.

I was raised on the Old Testament.
In it God talks to Moses, Noah,
Samuel, and they answer.
People confer with angels. Certain
animals converse with humans.
It’s a simple world, full of crossovers.
Heaven’s an airy Somewhere, and God
has a nasty temper when provoked,
but if there’s a Hell, little is made of it.
No longtailed Devil, no eternal fire,

and no choosing what to come back as.
When the grizzly bear appears, he lies/lays down
on atheist and zealot. In the pitch-dark
each of us waits for him in Glacier Park.

Maxine Kumin

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