Steve Kowit

Poems featured on The Gladdest Thing

Cosmetics Do No Good

Cosmetics do no good:
no shadow, rouge, mascara, lipstick —
nothing helps.
However artfully I comb my hair,
embellishing my throat & wrists with jewels,
it is no use — there is no
semblance of the beautiful young girl
I was
& long for still.
My loveliness is past.
& no one could be more aware than I am
that coquettishness at this age
only renders me ridiculous.

I know it. Nonetheless,
I primp myself before the glass
like an infatuated schoolgirl
fussing over every detail,
practicing whatever subtlety
may please him.
I cannot help myself.
The God of Passion has his will of me
& I am tossed about
between humiliation & desire,
rectitude & lust,
disintegration & renewal,
ruin & salvation.

— Steve Kowit

end

What Chord Did She Pluck

What chord did she pluck in my soul
that girl with the golden necklace
& ivory breasts
whose body ignited the river:
she who rose like the moon
from her bathing &
brushed back the ebony hair
that fell to her waist
& walked off
into the twilight dark—
O my soul,
what chord did she pluck
that I am still trembling.

after Chandidas

— Steve Kowit

end

Notice

This evening, the sturdy Levis
I wore every day for over a year
& which seemed to the end in perfect condition,
suddenly tore.
How or why I don’t know,
but there it was—a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racquetball court,
showered,
got into his street clothes,
& halfway home collapsed & died.
Take heed you who read this
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart
& kiss the earth & be joyful
& make much of your time
& be kindly to everyone,
even to those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe it will happen,
you too will one day be gone.
I, whose Levis ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.

— Steve Kowit

end

When He Pressed His Lips

When he pressed his lips to my mouth
the knot fell open of itself.
When he pressed them to my throat
the dress slipped to my feet.
So much I know—but
when his lips touched my breast
everything, I swear,
down to his very name,
became so much confused
that I am still,
dear friends,
unable to recount
(as much as I would care to)
what delights
were next bestowed upon me
& by whom.

after Vikatanitamba

— Steve Kowit

end

In the Morning

In the morning,
holding her mirror,
the young woman
touches
her tender
lip with
her finger &
then with
the tip of
her tongue
licks it &
smiles
& admires her
eyes.

— Steve Kowit

end
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