158 Readings

The Garden of Earthly Delights

after the triptych by Hieronymus Bosch

1. Paradise

Fowl & beast skirt our feet.
I float sexless–

porcelain doll
with eyes that open 

& close. Please,
no half-swallowed frog,

legs pitch-forked
& helpless

in some bird’s unnatural
mouth, no

feral cat’s
dangle-jawed mouse.

This hunger, his gift to us–
the animal appetites

as yet unnamed, our own
still unacknowledged.

Songbirds spiral
& swarm like bees

smoked from a honeyed 
hive. A warning.

2. Fallen

Rose-bellied finches
larger than man.
Eyes like a damson stone.

Stripped bare
& plumed emergency-
bright, my lips

feather & fledge.

The egg’s open skull a bed
wide enough for all.

Rinse my palate
–mouth-deep in red–

swollen to the exact
size of my desire.

Hip to hip,
be it fish or fowl, be it
man or beast–

the body
does not discriminate.

3. Hell

strung & luted spread your legs

what goes in must come out

the banquet table en flambé

stomach plastered & pink

a knife a rattle a long, hard hiss

consumption a torso carved

the bird-man takes another

–ah, the slings & arrows–

canapé: you & your frog-legs

beneath the throne–the pit

Posted 01/31/17
first published in CutBank
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