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I write poetry so infrequently (and clumsily). I feel kind of pretentious when I do. I’m not saying poetry is pretentious, not at all, just that I feel pretentious when I do it. However, I do have a few rough jewels that I enjoyed writing, so I’m going to share a few now and then.

"Woman Riddles"

She lies beneath the wide palm
With her serene smile paralyzed on her face
In the midst of two times, ethereal, finite.
Girls, girls, girls, always girls…
Pass ignorant by her tree.

For centuries, sitting, staring, so calm,
Shadows moving over her lithe body, living lace,
And in velvet paws claws gleaming in the light
While down her back flow dark curls
Unfettered and still, hardly free.

In this empty, timeless amulus of haze,
The woman looks upon her luscious prey.
Luminous eyes catch those of the wanderer.
The dreamer with dark skin
And sun-speckled eyes distant.

Somehow, the girl felt the lioness gaze
And froze, half-seeing the woman as she lay
Quiet in the shadows on the other side, the Great Ponderer,
The Knowing One, the centaur’s kin,
The one between worlds, sunbeams bent.

She is unseen and seeing,
Her golden eyes withhold secrets untold,
Waiting wet always for the one who might
See her in her steady state
Of half heat, of half being, of half need.

Fur tawny and clean, sweat glistening
On her forehead, full lips so bold
With aggression, belly fluffed with white,
The sort of creature that dark-skinned Cate
Sees not with any knowledge, but creed.

A creed of all dreamers who live
In worlds long forgotten,
Imagined secondhand in daily corners
And half-drawn, mildewed bus stops.
Cate, the one chosen, sees beyond.

Beyond what? The rabid hive
Of fear and indifference begotten
Of difference, phobia, foreigners,
Not in race but of a girl who tops.
Cate was well-accustomed to the unwelcome sound.

Her memory was filled with harsh, pyrite words.
Sulfur surrounds her nights of bare women
Whose desires were as natural as silver ore
And mango fruit, sweet between the legs.
Lovely round thighs and fingers in the hair.

It all came down to disguised interest slurred,
The answer to the famous riddle among men:
Why don’t they want us? or
Why do they want to be us? he begs.
And they answer with simple words and care.

They simply don’t want either, knowledge early or late.
The simple answer the Sphinx knows.
The answer on the tip of Cate’s tongue
As the woman draws her, crackling, through
And against her sun-warmed stomach.

The sphinx leans down and whispers to Cate,
“Pretty young girl, of short skirts and cornrows,
Lipstick and leather, goddess among
Paper dolls, I offer you more than they ever can do.
Just answer me one thing.” Her tail gives a coy flick.

She curls her large, supple body around Cate,
Possessive as always of that entrusted to her.
The girl trembles and feels ribbons of heat
Through her hands and breast
Until she clings to coarse fur.

“Why do you wander so late
From your small, little town, where once you were
Hated by little minds, little meat?”
The Sphinx with tail and tongue caresses
Poor Cate, the enchantment filling her.

“This is my way, my girl, answer me now,”
The Sphinx commands, cello voice strung tight.
“An answer right or I devour,” for she is wild.
Cate shivers silently in this strange place
In spite of the ever-present, concupiscent sun shining.

The Sphinx only smiles, her head in a bow
As she nuzzles Cate’s neck until Cate reaches to the light.
Her mouth makes no sound but kiss, neither harsh nor mild.
The Sphinx can see in her face
That she will stay. Cate answers nothing.