Eris Temple: New & Selected

The new New & Selected: just something that's around


No one can be frightening all the time...

...but try to remember that, just as what burns instructs, what scares instructs too...


Ode On Psyche (2001)

Sitting in Psyche’s parlor, I almost touched her—
    she stretched herself towards me, cat-like,
closing ice-blue eyes full of crocodile water,
     & her stomach bare, & her hair blue-striped—
like a Sphinx she reposed, with a riddle of flesh,
    to be solved in tongue-touching tenderness,
         despite Cupid shooting off on the phone—
like a moon she arose, & her lips mine enmeshed,
       I clutched, clasped her in a teenage caress,
          her Mom didn’t notice the moans.

If youth were faithful, Eros be damned,
     Cruel Cupid would never leave home—
back seats would stop rocking, beds be shammed,
      & Venus would go home alone—
in parks, in bars, the war went on,
    in which all is fair but fairness,
       all full of joy but the spurned—
in darkened cars, on new mown lawns,
     enraptured or raptly embarrassed,
        ripe-full of the pleasures that burned.

Years passed ‘til I saw Psyche again,
     ripe for a time & then jaded—
we kissed, talked, she bade me a friend,
      her beauty unworried, untainted—
no elfin grot enclosed her, no cave,
    Manhattan she recklessly roamed,
       courted by rich men & thieves—
wild eyes pin-wheeled on parties, raves,
      small morning hours her home,
          for nothing & no one she grieves.

I fell at her feet, she flung me away,
     her friend came, some E hits to buy—
I tossed on a tape, she laughed as it played,
     “Roxannneeee” came the heart-rending cry—
she counted five hundreds, hid them away,
    pulled out her poems, asked me to read them,
        walking her friend to the door—
I weighed all my options, if I should stay,
       holding the poems, not wanting to read them,
          feeling absurd on her floor.

She padded back softly, opened a window,
     stretched herself out on the sagging bed—
I moved in beside her, close as a shadow,
      moved in to touch her with joy & dread—
she stopped me at her silver belt,
      sensing why my words were soft,
           not about to blow her stolid cover—
I couldn’t burn her surface off,
     couldn’t make her armor melt,
         that wouldn’t let me be her honest lover.

Stoned in the gloaming, dead on my feet,
      the Village I hit & then ran—
did she like me, or did my bluster defeat
      my manhood, slipped out of her hands?
To her body, taut with muscle,
    a goddess of bed, Venus unseen to her lover,
         notes torn from shadows of sighs—
my body, all I’d hustled,
       seemed irrelevant, dead, & like a crab with no cover,
            crawled into the “D” train, & cried.

The Ode On Psyche was originally published in American Writing: A Magazine in 2002.


Abby Heller-Burnham: The Skaters '18


Flaming Red Hair

The Last Drop lost its joie de vivre in 2009- Dani
enforced this, acting out a script (tease/taunt/topple)
written for her by South Philly goons. Why I'm now
bemused by the gaucherie of Dani's gestures- cheap,
black, low-cut dresses worn to reveal ample cleavage,
flaming red hair styled always in plummeting cascades-
is that in '18, no one's titillated by anything, let alone Dani-
negligee stores derelict. How I pined for her on those nights
the grim reality of the recession still hadn't sunk in- as though
the revelation of her breasts could deliver me from shadows
which impinged, but (it seemed) possibly only temporarily.
Once, in her Pine Street apartment, she bothered to walk
around before me in a bath towel. Why was I a gentleman?
The twist in the tale was to stick the thing in, & thus win.


Mary Harju: The Fall '18


Mary Harju '18


Ode On Love (2003)

What is the essence of a too-brief kiss?
   The rigor of reaching the thing-in-itself,
from subject to object, chaos to bliss,
    our frail intuition of heavenly health?
Our love is not molecules, dumbly colliding,
    nor it it knowledge, formal and static,
       nor it it accident, reasoned and plumbed-
it's real, meta-rational, soaring and gliding,
    felt like an earthquake, bringing up panic,
       taking our parts and achieving a sum.

The greater part of love is sacrifice-
    flesh intermingled, tensing and tingled,
this is the secret I learn from your eyes.
    Giving my body- knotted, single,
tiny eruptions that come from my tongue-
    plunging down surface, slicking the flesh,
       thoughtless as leopards or hurricane winds-
watching you shudder, watching you come,
     rapt in the throes of an innocent death,
         giving my life to an inch of your skin.

Thus, we trade in secure oblivion
    for reckless reality, messy and fleeting.
Such is the cosmos: creation, carrion,
    motions of molecules merging and meeting.
Nothing is lost but notions of self-ness,
    hard ideations that closet and clatter,
       rages of ego that strain at their walls-
nothing is gained but a sense of the deathless,
    "there-ness" of spirit, "there-ness" of matter,
        ultimate "there-ness" that scares as it calls.


Eratio 26: The White Album (2nd Edition)

The new issue of Eratio (26) features, in its entirety, the second edition of the e-book The White Album, initially released by Ungovernable Press in 2009. Many thanks to Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino. 

If Life Is Making Your Head Bleed...

...then beat a hasty retreat back to 1488


Ode On Jazz

Physical beauty, Formal Rigor of God—
spiritual beauty, Economy of God—
Natural Will, Transcendent Will,
Facile Will in all its’ dismal “there-ness”—

Piano broken chords breaking down space
like watching bits of paper collect,
contained in a 12-bar blues; root
notes you tend to lean on,
or maybe a honking minor third,
a harmonic multi-colored sharp…

Follow your compulsion into flurries,
clusters of connecting phrases,
then a pause to sanctify as the progression
resolves after lingering on the fifth
for the appointed time—
pentatonics mainly w/ some suspensions,
sheets of sound, there it is...trademark leaps
only found in Coltrane,
like watching a rainbow erupt
out of the placid bowels of street-lakes,
sparrows in the gutters,
Eliot-esque alienation syncopated
impossibly high & mighty…

Repeat the repetition now into major scale—
Ionian gold, major-third suspensions again,
almost midnight for tremulous trees,
also hipsters, flights of birds, rabbis
in the wilderness as blues ends; here’s a quicker
quirkier jarring bit to cut
your teeth on…

Base bottom notes natural like ferns,
ride the ride cymbal like musical fellatio,
roll w/ rolls & kick-drum ejaculations,
what Hart Crane heard in bridges,
only blues (so bridge seldom comes),
stasis achieved nicely replicates movements,
bowel, kidney, heart-beat, daring snare of lip-ness,
thickness, quickness,
get it all out for all of us into the brick-laden city,
mutter of exhausted midnight buses
as vibrato notes shiver, miniature
solos on the toms creates energy
of emptiness among the weird abundance,
concluding w/ roll on the snare, now bass
also investigates metaphysical space,
not so much implacable as inexhaustible
eruptions; spring of autumn,
autumn of spring…

Seasons of balance, compromise,
away from extremes; Middle Path exteriorized,
oh piano on a minor seventh which bespeaks
longing for a more ethereal world,
elegiac as the last apple of October, eaten
by a Halloween camp-fire, beyond blues
of Earth into cadence, dying fall of pure moon,
ravaged, torn from the throat of persistence,
mute existence destroyed completely
and on fire, a universe of fingers & mouths,
looking down the tide of Death into eternity,
square-shouldered & erect,
freezing into whims of Ultimate “there-ness”,
beyond ordinary notions of quotidian abyss
in one long sitting pow-wow peace-pipe corn-cob
wholesome dinner of Voidness,
but insinuated only to drive away singularity….

Jazz is plural,
they give you a space, show you its’ contours,
allow you to move around & drown
if you want over hilltops of remorse, created
by Love or dolorous longing & especially
Central Parks of the soul & intellectual Bordello
life cut & pasting its’ bleak outline over rooftops
& bluebirds



She said, undressing, to love is to be
an orphan hiding from a hurricane in
a church made of glass. Impractical, I
said, & I don't like metaphors in bed
anymore, in my old age, any more than I
like spiders. Then, as we made love, she
said, you're an orphan, hiding from a hurricane.
Oh, I said, are you a church made of glass?
Well, she said, I'm a little cracked, aren't I?
Outside, cars slithered by, oblivious, exhaust
fumes tingeing human summer air. You're
cracked alright, & so is your sister, I said,
baiting her to collapse onto my chest,
throwing stones from my glass church, side-armed-


Philly Free School '18


Of the girls at CHS...

...few would've believed that ten years ago this month I'd be doing this task


Hearkening Back to 1342

In recessional times, people find it difficult to connect the right way



The dirge droned over the dimly lit dance
floor, "Stop Me If You've Heard This One
Before," & Tara, a bowl-headed red-head from
Jersey, heaved against me. Tara shouldered
suburban Jersey around with her like a sprained
ankle; tall tales of potential husbands, other
familial engagements. She sought ins with us;
we always said yes; yet we bled something
out of her, blocked her moves. Mike Land,
who (oddly) was no dancer, drank our grungy
group under the table, in a short-lived joint
off of Rittenhouse Square- Tara made a
gesture to her girlfriend to step outside. "It's
a conspiracy," I kidded Mike, "bring on the shots."