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  Cardinal Points: current issue

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    Photo: Ellen M. Siddons

Knees bent, you tip your pelvis slightly
toward the immaculate bowl
and with the same hand that stroked me last night
extend from its sheath the pink bud of your penis.
For a minute, I think of Narcissus
looking at Narcissus, his vision forever grounded
on the shallows of that glance.
But there is no limit like self-love in your act,
only those always gentle fingers
on your penis and the golden piss
arcing from your body what it does not need.
I lean against the door jamb
breathing in the scent of your beautiful excess.
Your hand slides back to the taut perineum
pushing up until the last drop falls.
Urine of the gods.
I say this knowing you are not Uranus,
not Jupiter Pluvius, certainly not a shaman
making water on my naked body
in order to charm the rain.
You are clearly not, as Freud would rush to note,
a girl with a garden hose snaked between her legs.
No, you are the man Paul was too blind to be,
flesh filled with light: atoms pulsing, nuclei of cells,
neurons, dendrites, retese - all light transmitting light.
My golden husband pissing in a porcelain bowl.

On the Beach


Ebb tide morning of an almost new
moon. And what's the sea brought up
under stars? Constellations of

seaweed and shell-bit scintilla, frayed
lines. Ravel and Shatter. There's no way
to make a tale from what's strewn underfoot.

  The on-shore breeze tumbles scud and litter,
monarchs tremble in windshift, but not enough
gale to say, Nor'easter. Is this the last day

before war? A few knots out, a factory ship
sails a town farther down beach,
seining and freezing. Harvest, they call it.

Have I ever imagined the daily lives
of its catch — whiting, sea bass, mottled
flounder, rays whose skin is soft

as petals, pale gray nurse sharks -
when I've dived with them
in warmer waters? So many failures

of attention. Lapses. The stump - 
legged gull picks at kelp,
its familiar laugh an alarm

for a flock to descend. What do
they sense? I kick up a red star, a pink
shovel, castle turret, drenched knot

of an infant's sock. Remains of a day
on the beach. Upwind, an island
fabled in my childhood 

glitters and smolders. Manhattan.
Back to it, I walk the salt-gauzed edge
of what used to feel like mainland,

squeezing the balled-up bootie. 
I can't stop hoping
the sea carried the child away.

In late summer the sea comes to the city

It isn’t yourself you see at the end
Of August. You are a reflection in

A gutter’s standing water, and the flat-you,
Swept up in traffic, an image, looking back.

The rush of drive time like the rush of surf
Just another noise fastened to the brain.

The faster the speed—ambulance, squad
Car —, the more headway into a boredom

Repetitious as sun that blunts and stuns
Until all seagulls look the same. Generics.

The oddness of it, being hollowed by
Not being able to notice detail.

Imagine - what is it like to be left
With a solitary thought, uprooted,

Embodiment unmoored, pulled out from
Beneath you by unfathomed undertow?
Every last cell lost. In this way
You learn distance from your memory.

© Copyright J.C.Todd
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