Paul Hostovsky

In the Garden

First I hold it out to you
in my hands which are
trembling a little so you
take them in your hands
you take the fruit in my
hands in your hands and you
stop my trembling first
then you kiss me with your
eyes wide open and I feel your
hands on the fruit and I
hear the skin tear open
I hear your fingernail tear it
ripping it back without taking
your eyes away from my eyes
all this you do without looking
you guide my finger to the wound
and you press my finger into it
and together we peel the rest of it
completely away without looking
away from each other’s eyes the wet
soft creature of the fruit sitting
naked in our hands the smell of it
rising like a sunrise on our fingers
which we hold up to our noses
and put into each other’s mouths
sharing the fruit without eating it
tasting the fruit without eating it
without looking and without looking away

Big Picture

And what are we but two
ticks who have found
the deer-throat of love, Love?
No different from all
the other little borers
and all the little fuckers
out there in the world
who would eat us if we
weren’t already lovingly
eating each other right now
naked on the living room floor.
After I came in from raking
I took off all my clothes
and I jumped in the shower,
and then I stood before you,
dripping, glistening like
something pulled from the sea,
asking you to please
check me for ticks, Love.
So with your eyes first,
and then with your fingers
and your lips, you obliged,
grooming me like
the primate that you are
and I am. And although
you didn’t find any ticks, you found
that I was getting aroused,
and you were getting aroused,
and you took me in your mouth
as the west wind blew
all the autumnal tumbling
leaves of the world around
and around outside
the big picture window.

Strip Tease at the Ars Poetica

First I took off my coat
because I was hot
and then I took off my hat
because forty percent of your body heat is lost through your head
which is a myth
but I like certain mythologies
and I like certain hat hair
which is perverse I know but I’m kind of a perv
so I took off my scarf because it was itchy
and then I took off my gloves
because it’s hard to unbutton your shirt when you’re wearing gloves
and I wanted to unbutton my shirt
so I unbuttoned my shirt
and I took it off and twirled it around over my head
and tossed it through the air
the way they do in strip joints and in movies
and at weddings
okay maybe they don’t do that at weddings
they toss bouquets at weddings
and they twirl napkins at weddings
but you get the idea
and when I got the idea I took off my pants
because when a man gets aroused
he has this inexorable compulsion
to show his erection to someone who will appreciate it
the way he appreciates it
as though it were something he had made
with his own hands
which some erections are
so then I stood there steeply rocking
in a sea of aloneness
because I was utterly alone in the Ars Poetica
with no one to appreciate what I had made
so I took off my shoes and my socks
and I hung my left sock on my erection
like a windsock
that shows the direction and the strength of the wind
I didn’t make the wind but I made a windsock
or the likeness or the image of a windsock
and I stood there naked in the wind for a brief moment
admiring what I had made
because it was beautiful and true and it slanted a little
due to the diminishing strength of my erection
and all of a sudden I felt very foolish
all of a sudden I felt very cold and alone
and with no direction
so I removed the sock and I put it back on my foot
and I put my other sock on my other foot
and I dressed quickly and self-consciously
and stuffed my hat and scarf and gloves back inside my coat pockets
and then with my coat in one hand and my shoes in the other
I tiptoed out of there in my stockinged feet
and I only am escaped alone to tell thee


Paul Hostovsky’s latest book of poems is MOSTLY (FutureCycle Press, 2021). He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter.

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