I grew horny when we woke in the woods
and I watched two black squirrels
spiraling around and down
the shaft of a tall red cedar,
from the tip of the crown to the root
and back up, chittering, frenzied,
from the tip of the crown to the root and back up,
spiraling, gaining speed. I gawked and pointed,
as if I’d never known push and pull,
animal instinct, repetition, gravity,
or the piercing, firm commitment of the screw.
I was horny when we left the woods
and the land spread wide, lying back,
opening like a silk robe and exposing
its lush, impatient meadow.
Beyond the meadow, two farmers
cooked and swept, waiting for us to arrive.
We sat with their goats and ate their cheese.
We joked with the pigs and relished
succulent slices cut from their thighs.
We raised our hands against the violent figs,
and sucked the wounded fruit from its leathery hide.
I was horny as a madman in the village,
stumbling over cobblestones pointing in every direction,
like the insolent offspring of an ancient drunken paver.
It was the cobblestones that caused my eyes to reel,
confused – there, to the candy store, there to the yellow jackets
guarding their nest, there to the bikes, there to the park bench,
there to the paralyzed dove, and the clock tower, and the cigarettes,
and the glass after sparkling glass of tall, cold, mint Fernet.
It was not the short skirt on the young mother stepping out.
It was not your bare foot on my thigh beneath the table.
It was the cobblestones, the mischievous cobblestones.
In the bakery at the edge of town
my horniness grew focused and more intense.
The woman in the grey frock and white apron
had no need to be coy –
she saw the sweet breeze pull me in, staggering,
when I opened the door.
She heard the little bell ring.
All her goods were on display behind the glass.
I knew exactly what I wanted.
Nestled in the back, between two warm muffins,
an erratic, burnt amber seam of cinnamon glistened.
Walking home, I am horny on the inhale
and horny on the exhale.
The porch light is out.
The lamp on the small desk in the entryway is out.
I wonder what you see when you close your eyes.
Black water? A black satin sheet unfurling?
Distance without direction?
Or all your secrets, safe and sound?
I only see you, bathed in warmth, reaching towards me.
Let the darkness badger me with its pathetic peep show.
Tonight I only see you.
This is all I ask: When my time comes,
lay me on our well-worn bed
and remember every place we’ve been.
Work your tears into my skin until it eases from the bone.
Knead it and stretch it – smooth, translucent,
thin and strong – and shape it to mimic a hot air balloon.
Lace my fingers together to serve as the basket.
Light two candles on my palms and release me.
Others may have souls that ascend,
but I will be a sky lantern made of flesh,
lifting, filled with wind and flickering light.
Far below, the graveyard will roll.
I’ll see the soft mounds, the radiant dew,
and grow horny again as I rise.
Glenn Pape is a semi-retired, late middle-aged man living a fine and comfortable life in a normal house with his normal dog and normal wife in Portland, Oregon. In childhood he discovered that reading and writing poetry provided moments that revealed how magnificent “the normal” could be. In the past few years he has been published in the North American Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, Pulp Literature, and The Rhysling Anthology, among others. His hobbies include cheering for his favorite roller derby team (Break Neck Betties), and riding the roller coaster of victory and failure by following the Chicago Cubs.