Sunday, October 23, 2011

Incubus III

Ménade relieve romano (Museo del Prado) 04b

Incubus III

He’s decided 
we dance tonight, 
and so we do
the moonmad cleft-foot jig, 
tail tickling around my waist, he
the bacchanal dancemaster
marked with a silver’d shadow,
I the bemused pot of honey 
on his vinyard arm 
thyrsus in hand,
thirst pouring 
from a red-figure urn.

 Tranced, I turn 
in that 
serpentine accord
 of smokedrift and dream,
my body his netted lattice, 
that squintslanted  
 backslid eye
 tight shut still knowing
every bridge 
every fret
that builds a chord
across the rippled ivory
of my spine.

A cat can’t deny a lion
the gazelle’s throat, 
the tail lashes;
one red drop shows where
my lips fell last.

Don’t think there’s
no toll here
in the 
processional of lost girls.

October 2011

This is a companion piece to IncubusIncubus II 
and Incubus IV

Ana Belén Cantero Paz [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons posted here on Flick'r


  1. Oh yeah, let er rip! Rip like a jig like a jug like a throat! The sexual quintessence is hottest and coldest at once: tripping on the tongue for revealing and reveling in the abyssal rooms of encounter far below the day-locked one. You're opening reminds me of the joke: Q: When do you stop having sex with an 800-pound gorilla? A. When the gorilla is finished. When the nails of the demon tap tap tap on the window, who in their darkest heart can resist the invitation, even though 'tis death to? Like the maid that ran off with the water-nixie at Beltane whose bones washed up with Samhain's tide. Those maenads were sisters and mothers, chaste maids and queens: by day urban sanities, at night in the fields moon-mad bloodlust satieties. And this song has deep fang-roots in that old, old devil music. There are turns in every dance, and perhaps this third sequel turns to reveal the darkest face of the urn, the maenad in shadow, smiling. The dragons are happy, applauding their wings in cold skies. - Brendan

  2. Yes, I feel the maenad's power here even in the irresistible hold of the incubus, and the Roman relief is gorgeous with your wonderful poem. What beautiful images: my body his netted lattice . . . the rippled / ivory of my spine.

  3. Great as usual. You definitely turned up the heat in this one.

    I know this might seem silly, but this quote from Jack Nicholson came to mind when reading:

    "Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

    Not exactly the same setting in the movie as in this poem, but it jumped out at me when reading your latest work.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I got to go talk to Sarah about a "roleplaying game" and not the D&D kind this time. :P

  4. What's an incubus? Some sort of public transportation? Okay, I'm teasing!

    What a dance they do. The description of the eye is creepy, and the line about the cat not being able to deny the lion its kill is really excellent. But it is the final stanza that is the best. It's perfect, and perfectly original.

  5. oy, that last sentence is scary...the processional of lost girls...some great imagery along the way....the playing of music along the spine...kinda a creepy sensuality thing going on dancing with the demon...

  6. Ooops, apologies for repeating the gorilla joke, which I also made commenting to "Incubus II." Suffice to say here that we may be the one to open the door to nightmare, but he's the one who decides when to split. - B

  7. Thanks all.
    @bri-glad you like the last line. This was the hardest of the three Incubus poems, but also the most fun.

    @Ruth: Thanks for taking time to read, hope you had a lovely break.

    @skav: I like the quote-Witches of Eastwick?

    @FB: Bus, Magic Bus! Thanks for coming by before your eyes were barely open. Glad you liked--the cat line reminded me of you when it came to me.

    @B: Actually it says a lot that you told the same joke(quite a fitting one) and I was just nodding my head and laughing--you could have slipped it by me, at least until I happened to reread I2 at some later date, when I would have forgotten this instance, most, thanks for being old and honest. Also, I think you put your scaly long-nailed finger on it--under the mask of sanity, there's a need for the forbidden that can easily be destructive, but which in imagination can be a safety valve as well. Too much normalcy is soul killing; we are always looking for some fantasy time to dance with our favorite gorillas.

  8. @hedgewitchyness Batman when he played as the Joker.

    Not even remotely in the same type of setting as the poem, but for some reason that dang quote jumped out at me :)

  9. "every bridge
    every fret
    that builds a chord
    across the rippled ivory
    of my spine."

    Oh. Hell. Yeah.

  10. Another 'wow' Hedgewitch! I found thess lines so telling, 'one red drop shows where/ my lips fell last.' Great closing lines too.

  11. This brought to mind Joyce Carol Oates' short story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been", inspired by the three murders committed by Charles Schmid and made into a movie starring Laura Dern called 'Smooth Talk'. Have you read or seen it? The last stanza rang especially true and chilling. Your poem is rending and well written.

  12. I love that she has teeth, this tiny dancer.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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