Longings, a Collection | The New Engagement

Longings, a Collection

By Raymond Luczak
Longings, a Collection





Millions of years ago this was a land of volcanoes.

Lava spewed like lunch. Once the raging cooled off,

everything fell into fissures. Bubbles of oxygen

drowned, trapped into stones of no distinction.





The word "amygdaloid" stems from the Latin word

for "almond." Centuries have smelted it with meanings.

The "amygdalae" stimulates the brain's hypothalamus

into thinking emotion and feeling memory.





In the clearing of woods near the abandoned mines,

the rust of iron is a powder that can't be showered away

even in the luminous rains of April. It's always there,

lurking like the snake of autumn waiting to bite.





The word also refers to the texture of stone

lined with empty hisses. Such stones had to have existed

when the first man and woman discovered the snake

of knowledge in the virgin act of fornication.





Tons of rocks aggregate amidst the merciless torture

the waves of Lake Superior administer non-stop.

The water is a lava-burned woman hell-bent on revenge.

No one will ever breathe again. They must drown.





Agates, far smaller than almonds, grasp at the anchor

of others their kind clinging to the soil underneath

at the edge of the world between water and land.

They dream of never having to time their breaths.





The word is also the name of my yearbook.

The brain is a stone filled with lonely vesicles.

Come pour the water of memory into the gaping holes

of what I should remember. I'm far from home.






"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."

- Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475 – 1564)


You don't know my half of the story.

I was in love with the brute Goliath.

He dripped with sweat

no matter how freshly washed he was.

I hated his guts, but how I adored the dark eyes

that had seen so much blood

and the beard that flowed like honey.


When Michelangelo was commissioned

to create a sculpture in my honor, he listened

to my heart beating inside the chunk of marble.

He himself in his fifties had fallen hard

for Tommaso De'Cavalieri, a teenage nobleman.

He knew that I had to be beautiful enough

to dazzle Goliath's gaze the second I stepped

out of Saul's shadow with a sling in hand.

I sought his heart, but I hit him in the forehead.


Even though I'm marble, I breathe courage.

I'm taller than Goliath ever was. Michelangelo

turned out to be far more brutal yet tender

when he chiseled away my ache,

making me supple in his hands

until my skin shimmered like pearl.

Now countless Goliaths gaze up at me

with prayers in their loins.

I have my story, and you have yours.





after Gustav Klimt's Judith and the Head of Holofernes


No one knows much about me.

The Bible says I was a widow,

therefore I was intimately familiar

with a man's body and its needs.

How I'd loved my soldier husband!


He never forced himself on me.

He kissed me and fondled me some more.

He entered me only when I was ready.

The stars above the fire shimmered ash

as we molted into sweat and shadow.


Then came along Nebuchadnezzar,

the little shit who tried to destroy

everything our people stood for

when we didn't pay his men respect.

They stabbed my soldier husband.


The little shit tried again, this time

with his general Holofernes sent ahead.

More soldiers, more weapons, more killings.

He was taller than most men, and I liked that.

Maidens and wives stayed away, but I didn't.


I had a fire-hot poker gleaming orange

between my legs. I would melt that man

if I could somehow. I loosened the fabric

off my shoulders, leaving him a gasp

of nipple, my fingers absent-mindedly


scratching my breasts, leaning down

to lift a pail of water from the sea.

My breasts hung like pears.

His men standing near Holofernes

adjusted their swords of steel and flesh.


That night he and his men caroused

around the campfire. I smiled sweetly

as I distributed loaves of bread and olives.

Holofernes gripped my hand and then let go.

Tonight was all what his eyes said.


Clouds obscured the archers in the sky

when I slipped into his tent. He beamed

in the glow of candlelight. I never saw

a weary man as happy as he was to see me,

not since my husband returned home from war.


Holofernes was visibly shocked at the things

we did together. He said I was better

than any whore. He closed his eyes

as he erupted a third time after I did.

He was indeed a wonderful lover.


Pretending to be my soldier husband alive,

I grabbed a pillow and a sword off the rug.

I pushed the pillow on his face as I thrust

the sword into his Adam's apple,

then sawed his neck as if it were a snake.


So much blood dripped after me

as I gripped his hair, his severed head.

None of his men saw me leaving.

They were too drunk to notice.

That morning I showed my people his head.


No one ever called me a whore,

not after what I'd done for my people.

All of us, renewed with the blood of faith,

pushed against the headless general's army.

My soldier husband would've forgiven me.


History rarely reveals the true stories,

the backstage dramas that led to the few facts

still standing like ruins in the fog of time.

Artists have come and gone, imagining

who this Judith was, what she was like.


The only painter who got me right

was Gustav Klimt. He never married.

He stayed fully naked under his working gown.

He slept with his models. He conjured

visions of passion aswirl in gold leaf.


There I am, my eyes half-dreaming

the glory of my soldier husband naked,

begging to mount me, my shoulders

clad in gold. I am the queen of orgasm,

always ready for the war of lust.


I still float among the dead of my people.

I am but a name, a thread darting in and out

of the tapestry of their stories.

Millennia later, I watch women fight.

Never underestimate the power of pussy.





Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of 22 books, including Flannelwood (Red Hen Press) and Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares & Rebels). A ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and online at raymondluczak.com.

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