I Will Not Call My Body a Temple

"Poem About My Mouth” and “I Let You,” two poems by Hannah Aizenman

painted lips

I Will Not Call My Body a Temple

Poem About My Mouth

Small, not especially
sensuous, not the kind
of shape to give one
power, not a flower,
soft yet sharp, scolded
as smart (not to know it
from what's gone in—
all manner of poison
and men—nor from
the waste come out,
words and in low hours
matter), flirt, pretender,
trying accents on
like dresses, meanwhile
wedded, fitted to
a single tongue, if
pretty, numb, probably
forever scarred
by a teen magazine’s
kissing advice: lips
should form, slow, over
and over, the syllable
painted, poised,
prone to embarrass me,
site of desperation,
set for combat or allure,
sometimes I think
impossible to hold
naturally, even now
this poem, can’t
help it, can't stand it,
wants to like me,
wants you to want me,
wants you to, needs
you so bad—

I Let You

Because I am sick 
of the holy 

I will not call 
my body 
a temple, 

rather render 
the cunt 
a casino, my 

eye in the sky, 
my house 
always wins— 

bring me 
your thirsts, 
lay them out 

like bad bets, 
your hand 
when you fold,
smokes crushed 
to smolder 
in ashtrays 

keep turning up 
empty, forgetting 
the hours, 

your promise, 
your wife. Maybe 
another life 

could have left 
or found me 
innocent, humble, 

a tabernacle, 
a garden 
shed, clothes 

drying like well- 
tended ghosts 
on the line, 

but I was born 
for the taking 
of what isn't mine,
what I am 
however it's got. 

Dolled up, I’m 
if you want it, 
and as much of as, 

your free 
roulette round, 
your all-you-can 

eat, your elite 
hotel suite— 
I come 

at cost hidden 
only from who 
would not seek: 

your golden idol 
a cancer of debt, 
burnt offering 

a country 
blown clean 
to glass, souvenir 

cleaved now 
from memory, 
language forked 

in the mouth 
like the crotch 
of a root.
What could grow 
here, desert built 
to wander forever, 

heat drunk 
for honey, play 
money for milk? 

—who sold who 
paradise, claimed 
it was yours if I 

named the right 
price? To feel 
flush, lucky, 

loved, is 
fleeting, and by 
design, who draws
the game up 
to lose at its end, 

no bigger sucker, 
all appetite, 

so’s the trouble 
with gods 
who are hungry 

and angry, human: 
a story, first, 
to devour the sun, 

then one to split 
the beast’s belly 

a fortune, 
wheel spinning, 
but whose? 

Who makes 
me, who 
lets you, 

who says 
I do 

I have 

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