Poetry from Duane Vorhees

we marble lunatics love poets


are organized dust     ego constructed from cosmic mix     massproduced but with divergent faces     our destinies the crossings of expectation habit constitution accident habit    sculptors and poets waste their available dictionaries, unless resupplied by quarrymen and etymologists their arts would die on touch and tongue


no bowel no brain no brawn no breath     condemned to be free, slave stone accomplice of master sculptor     mutated by love by language by law by belief its appearance mirrors its butcher’s thought     but it holds its is its was its will be     the sculpture never forgives the chisel


wanting the strength and beauty of youth we moon the sun     our fears defend the fortress while our foes search for our sally port     in dream we become vicious trees and randomic machines and thus think we are free from matter’s fetters     the earth is my floorboard the sun my incandescent bulb     rains and rains (repetitions of repetitions) massage a hollow in the rock


an infinite latitude looking for a latitude to fix its place     each lover an assemblage of unlike entities, each an infinite diversity     an eventual child of memory doing that old mortar-and-pestle     our tears were blushes once     the wool outvalues the sheep, the horn its rhino


try to keep secret the genius of their creation by gloving fingers and genitals but hints always reveal their command     juggling invisible maracas in nets of intimate timpani      imagination corrals disorder     complexity camouflages simplicity


Mother Sky Aphrodite

slides into her nightie

(Silk. Black. Strobe-filled sequins.)

and glides like Ponds into bed.

Papa Earth rolls over once,

hugs her, humps her, then grunts,

groans, snores: sprawls like lead.

From their bedclothes crawls a Moon-faced

offspring, squalling till the dawn,

when a newer, brighter son

spits up in his spoon.


felt hammer

         a stammer

/a sermon

honey in an

             iron jar

  a temple/

a jungle

(:Marriage is:)


            and football


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways….

--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

11. You are the axe in the well. It shines then rusts.

15. Because there is a clearing in the woods. Winter sun is iced beer. The short noon lengthens its shadow.

17. By rotating ringmaster, acrobat, lion tamer, and clown. Entertaining the performers keeps the circus alive.

23. We are like a hinged door that swings wildly.

25. By being the wind coaxing the wallflower.

26. Because our tantric nirvanic altar sacrifices the doves and the lambs, the flour and the wine.

28. By eating as much trout as we can while avoiding the hooks.

34. You are like the hand of the tongue, signing in diverse dialects. No tongueless poet can tell the honey from the vinegar.

39. Because, first, each of us must talk to the other’s eye and make our halos sparkle. The organ must fit the occupation.

42. Because pleasure’s foundation must hold the skyscraper’s weight.

46. Because every successful love merchant barters ego for empathy: To exalt the narcissist, the narcissist must appease the other narcissist.

48. Like the crack that makes the kaleidoscope.

50. Because solids grow hollow, and tall beauties shrink to a willow branch but swell again when roots are watered. Fingers harvest the garden’s onions, the parsley patch.

53. By being an interpreter of hints into commands. Genitals never blush, never lie.

55. Just as the nomad, mapping the way from one Alone to another, discovers new silk roads.

57. By having a limb that blooms and buds and sometimes becomes a club.

59. You are the careful steward, partitioning the jewels, the perfume, the spice, and the lace from the placenta and the excrement.

61. By allowing the passion to run free while confining the caution.

63. Because desire is the part of us that touches the parts of others.

66. Through the realization that we fell in love with the other’s image of our possibilities. So, be your Mahdi! Establish an infinity in every instant.

69. Like our instruments, we are all we have for reaching out.

72. Through incessant practice. Even the bunglers of love can learn to be jugglers.

75. Because sex completes a bachelor’s halfness. Sex is the prophet of progeny.

77. Your Monaco arms seek to engage my vast Russia passions.

80. Through awareness of eternity’s sting. Stars swarm around the hive of our moon but remain balanced: We can release ourselves from our body of death in the knowledge that we carry our own prisons and paroles with us.

82. By not becoming so old as to expect passion or so young as to seek respect.

97. I love thee upon greeting.

98. And at leaving.


At Lourdes you chose to laugh

at my perfect body.

You mocked me on my knees,

scoffed my alabaster,

scorned my lisp and my limp,

called my cactus lily.

Demanded that I show

sure proof of my disease.

How could you not have seen

the cancers on my skin?

The flags of leprosy?

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