Last week I posted a review of Harmony Eichsteadt’s The Meet of My Thighs, which went on to be one of my most popular blog articles to date. I spent yesterday at her home, along with several of the other people who will be participating in her May 14th book launch party, sharing ideas and reading some of the poems that will be featured at the event.
There were many things I loved about this afternoon — good food, good company, and lots of irreverent laughter at the abundant sexual humor that I’m certain follows Harmony everywhere she goes. But what I loved most was, after several days stewing in my own interpretations of Harmony’s work, hearing from the horse’s mouth the source of her poetry. I barely remembered “Raw” after reading it in the book. A few lines stood out (“…the gash between my legs”), but while the whole thing was violent in its imagery, it became that much more powerful knowing that it was written during an emotionally abusive relationship — but at a time before she was quite conscious of that abuse. Meeting the person for whom “Willendorf” was written, and then seeing the source of its title, gave a whole new appreciation for a song celebrating the female body in all its forms.
One thing Harmony has commented on is that of the 11 people who will be reading at the book launch, no two of them asked to read the same poem. The one I picked, “And Yet,” was one that she only included because she wanted to make a certain page count, and she never thought it would speak to people as it clearly did to me.
One of the things we’re supposed to say, when we introduce the poem we’re reading, is why we picked it. I’m actually struggling a little bit with the answer to that. As an actor, I don’t always pick the roles I play — sometimes they pick me. I think most artists, when they’re lucky, experience some variation of that. So here I would have to say that I picked this poem because it picked me. Harmony loves the fact that a married man is reading a poem she wrote about her “emotional affair on [her] husband.” I’m sure that’s part of what spoke to me — almost everyone can relate to the inevitable lust they feel for others, even in the face of a marriage contract they’d never in a million years break.
So, how to write an erotic poem #4?
Become friends with a highly confident polyamorous sex-positive feminist.
Buy her drinks.
Support her in everything she does.
Read her book of erotic poems
(out loud to your wife)
while picking which one to read
out loud to a room full of people you don’t know.
(After all, you’re only worth anything if people who don’t know you tell you how great you are.)
Fantasize in various forms. It’s okay. In your mind, you’re God.
You can do anything
(which you’d never in a million years actually do,
though maybe your wife will one day be open to …
(fill in any one of a hundred blanks; it doesn’t matter; she won’t)).
Whatever you do, don’t tell either one of them about the crush you’ve developed
until you do,
to both of them at once
in a very public place
(maybe on the Internet; or maybe
out loud to a room full of people you don’t know).
It’s okay. In your writing, and on stage, you’re God.
You can do anything
(which you’d never in a million years actually do).