Life Story by Tennessee Williams

After you’ve been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what’s your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.

You tell them your story, or as much of your story
as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, until the oh
is just an audible breath, and then of course

there’s some interruption. Slow room service comes up
with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee
and gaze at himself with the mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.
And then, the first thing you know, before you’ve had time
to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,
they’re telling you their life story, exactly as they’d intended to all along,

and you’re saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming
no more than an audible sigh,
as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,
draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion
and stops breathing forever. Then?

Well, one of you falls asleep
and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,
and that’s how people burn to death in hotel rooms.

Stolen Moments by Kim Addonizio

What happened, happened once.  So now it’s best
in memory—an orange he sliced: the skin
unbroken, then the knife, the chilled wedge
lifted to my mouth, his mouth, the thin
membrane between us, the exquisite orange,
tongue, orange, my nakedness and his,
the way he pushed me up against the fridge—
Now I get to feel his hands again, the kiss
that didn’t last, but sent some neural twin
flashing wildly through the cortex.  Love’s
merciless, the way it travels in
and keeps emitting light.  Beside the stove
we ate an orange.  And there were purple flowers
on the table.  And we still had hours.

Dirty Talk II by Al Shapiro

Pretend that I’ve forgotten who I am
and it’s your job to remind me: say my name
and tell me all about my body, what it wants
and what you’ll make it do. Pretend we’re sick,
describe the symptoms: our wild slam-
ming hearts, our fever-flush, our violet veins
throbbing. Pretend I’m blind, and tell me what
you see. Pretend it’s possible to think

after you speak, that body can trump brain
which can trump body, translating the words
into impulses, firing from nerve
to twinkling nerve. Pretend we’ve found the way
to heal, between things and names, the divide:
you be the signifier. I’ll be signified.