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Love on the Streets, Selected and New Poems

from Rain Taxi, Spring 2009 by Charles Potts

“From the meanest of streets to the most ivory of towers, Sharon Doubiago has been knocking on our doors with an insistent and consistent voice for decades. This new selection of Doubiago’s poems puts the best of her work between one set of covers—from her epic Hard Country to mold-breaking new poems.

The poet’s voice is strong enough to bring the dead back to life—Jack Kerouac, Marilyn Monroe, Crazy Horse... This is no simple act of artistic reincarnation: Doubiago puts flesh back on the spirits she conjures... She takes the poem through the relevant facts until they are re-composed by her attention and the truth shines through. This is a prophetic process, as outlined by E.M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel. She achieves this power of prophetic song by looking straight at her subjects without flinching, where she finds and shares the exquisite details that elucidate the whole. In “How to Make Love to a Man,” for example, Doubiago hits nerves all over the body and the body politic...

It is nearly impossible to capture the power of Doubiago’s art by casual reference; only exposure to the entire work will suffice. Thankfully, Love on the Streets gives ample opportunity for such exposure. There are no longer any excuses for ignoring Sharon Doubiago’s immense contribution to literature.”

How To Make Love To A Man

Run your tongue down the two tendons both sides
of his neck. Run your tongue back and forth
along the ridge of the underside.
Run your tongue along the ridges of the head, inside his
fingers, thighs, Adam's apple, Achilles' tendon. Wet
the rigid shaft of his calf, the long hairs sticking up from his toes
and the ones lying down over them like little blankets. Love
his ridges, his frigid Soul. Think
glacially. Constant motion, advancing slowly. Remember
penis envy is what men have of each other. Remember no man
can will an erection. Have him enter you awhile,
the knee chest position to dissolve the ridges. Remember
he's terrified. Remember it's all he wants. Remember
he seeks confidence you know how to handle
his body, you'll grip him firmly enough. Remember for a man
the importance of technique. Remember like gripping
a tennis racket. Remember he's
emotional. When he comes be careful
not to tighten your grip. Be careful not to forget
the battlefields he comes to you from. Forget them, the lies
he must overcome to come to you. Forget
that to be a "man" is to be unjust. Remember his mother
removed him from their bed, deposited him
on the narrow mattress with bars in the cold cell alone. Make
love to all his ex-loves who live in him as surely as he
makes love to yours though he seeks to banish them.
Though he will say so kindly I wish you were free. He
wishes to be free. Help him with trance, wear
silk, light candles, wear levis and flannel, wear
nothing, don't undress. Remember
just dissolve. Remember no jerky movements. Remember
his greatest fear, he won't be able to please you, he'll lose
it, let you down. Remember your walls
to clasp and unclasp him. (Some will resent this, you will know
who. Remember every man is different
and when it becomes the dance
with each's spirit, when the river is more swift
than flesh, when you break through to the place remember
expose yourself. Let him see you. When he comes be
careful not to change. Remember the ridges
you roamed to get here, the fall
either side. Where the road began. Where you are going.
When he begins to ascend toward the body cavity
forming a firm rounded mass when the ocean synchronistically
booms approval his edge of aggression, when you ride
his aggression till you disremember everything remember
this is time this is earth this is life this is you. Remember
so great is his love he wants all women.

The Millennium: Free Him
for Leonard Peltier, "My real name or Dakota name is Tate Wicuwa, Wind That Chases the Sun."

I bring into your cell Crazy Horse's white Appaloosa.
He lowers his head to get in, he allows himself to be brought in, his
electric body to be held at the mouth. His back
flickers like a bad connection, like coming to flames
but his four hooves tap dance the cement. He allows me
to unbraid his mane, to brush out with my fingers his beads
to lay in the hollow between your nipples.
There is so much terror I may not breathe again.
He is Eros who cannot be ridden to some clear light
but must be mounted here in this pit. Only here.
His smell fills it. Their eyes
watch us. Every one of your heartbeats
all these years against the cage

We sow the seed of the native tall prairie grass
into the steel. Our tears are enough water.
Your hand reaches for my right breast, the other pulls me down
under the horse where we are unseen by the monitor.
I pull back, wash with my tears your heavy feet
and the dark wave of hair across your forehead when you were young
and the wave back from your large forehead now like my father's.
The grass stems elongate over us. The crickets scrape
their legs together, scrape together the majesty, my body
down on yours like the sun setting over the world, the wind
chasing me. Our bodies

over each other like the skins of the Indians
the pioneers bound their Bibles with
the living flesh
still in their prison museums.

Love Song For A Man Whose Mother Killed Herself

Your open mouth like the ocean
where you allow me, swimming.
Beneath all things, the Bible says
are the waters
but men don’t open this way.
They are the ships headed for some horizon, the rescuers

dragging the lake for days for her body, you said.

You have opened yourself so wide
you are the water your mother drowned in.
She lies at the bottom of you,
the dark deep water that covers you.

I see her face sleeping with open eyes
looking towards the sun.
I am wanting

the secret of this watery garden
the secret the leaves hide
and the wind
call it the world
the secret she would not live without.

It is deep going between here and the new country.
In the night we are seen waving back to the shore.
Voices call for us. I emerge
over your body to see the earth in light.

You have opened to me.
You are the first man who has ever opened to me.
Somehow you have made yourself

the man she would not live without.


He told me that at the abbey in Kentucky
they just lay the dead in earth. No
box, nothing

                    May this be my body’s Luck

But so many dead priests they’ve run out of room.
So now they dig up the old graves
and make a pillow of the bones
for the new head to rest on

                    May this be my Love
                    come at last