The Best American Erotic Poems: From 1800 to the Present
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There is a deep tradition of eroticism in American poetry. Thoughtful, provocative, moving, and sometimes mirthful, the poems collected in The Best American Erotic Poems celebrate this exuberant sensuality.
These poems range across the varied landscapes of love and sex and desire -- from the intimate parts of the body to the end of an affair, from passion to solitary self-pleasure. With candor and imagination, they capture the delights and torments of sex and sexuality, nudity, love, lust, and the secret life of fantasy.
David Lehman, the distinguished editor of the celebrated Best American Poetry series, has culled a witty, titillating, and alluring collection that starts with Francis Scott Key, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Hart Crane, encompasses Frank O'Hara, Anne Sexton, John Updike, Charles Simic, Billy Collins, Kevin Young, and Sharon Olds, and concludes with the rising stars of a whole new generation of versifiers, including Sarah Manguso, Ravi Shankar, and Brenda Shaughnessy.
In a section of the book that is sure to prompt discussion and further reading, the living poets write about their favorite works of erotic writing.
This book will delight, surprise, and inspire.
exhausted nature trip and fall Just at the point where it becomes divine. (1929) EMILY DICKINSON (1830–1886) 211 Come slowly—Eden! Lips unused to Thee— Bashful—sip thy Jessamines— As the fainting Bee— Reaching late his flower, Round her chamber hums— Counts his nectars— Enters—and is lost in Balms. (c. 1860) 249 Wild Nights—Wild Nights! Were I with thee Wild Nights should be Our luxury! Futile—the Winds— To a Heart in port— Done with the Compass— Done with the Chart! Rowing
wants me to let him inside me, all of a sudden I turn passive—how I hate that word! I mean I don’t feel anything is wrong, but it always happens, just before… I suppose nothing private is really shocking, so long as it remains yours, but I wish I knew if other women felt this way. I mean, it seems as if once he’s in there I’m waiting for something. The stillness bothers me. Why can’t I accept it? Not what he’s doing there, but the stillness: I can’t bear it. Why is that? 1895
and Whereas between bent trees flies And bees twirl above apples And peaches fallen on blue gravel; and Whereas yesterday’s thunder shook blossoms Off laurel the day after they appeared; and Whereas in the dust, the fine and perfect Dust of cat-paw prints scattered across The gleaming car hood, something Softer than blossoms falls away, Something your lips left on mine; and Whereas it’s anyone’s guess as to how long It’s been since a humid day sank so low, So far from the present
girlfriend’s red high heels and her girlfriend’s husband’s denim work shirt. She cannot quite dream that she’s lying above a caption for phone sex: I’m wet, I’m horny, give me a call. And she knows she couldn’t enjoy touching such rubbery slick skin, which looks as though it would be cold and indifferent, like the pages of the magazine itself. What is the proper response of a woman looking at Playboy? Why did she bring it with her to lie on the bed? Is her friend upset with her husband when he
out of lullabies. But damn if there isn’t anything sexier than a slender boy with a handgun, a fast car, a bottle of pills. 7 What would you like? I’d like my money’s worth. Try explaining a life bundled with episodes of this— swallowing mud, swallowing glass, the smell of blood on the first four knuckles. We pull our boots on with both hands but we can’t punch ourselves awake and all I can do is stand on the curb and say Sorry about the blood in your mouth. I wish it was mine. I