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Syndic Literary Journal

Four Short Poems ~

Written/Narrated By New Jersey Poet Bill Wolak


Love Apples

For Elizabethans, the mere fragrance

of perfume seldom aroused

intimacy’s most erotic sentiments.

Rather, they craved the sultry,

pungent odor of rank sweat exuding

from the pores of a lover’s skin.

A whiff of the naked body’s

most unabashed aroma excited them

more then any artificial tincture

of musk and flowers.

To capture the unique scent

of her voluptuous flesh,

a woman would wedge

a peeled apple under her armpit

until her perspiration saturated it

with her unmistakable bouquet.

Then she would offer it to her lover

as an amorous keepsake—

a fleeting olfactory memento

of her body’s secret pleasures.

Love Tokens

In Japan during the Heian and subsequent periods,

prostitutes offered their most devoted customers

love tokens of their ink-black hair and cuttings

of their slender fingernails, which their admirers

carried in little pouches attached to their belts

or around their necks dangling close to the heart

like miraculous charms or wonder-working relics.

In order to please as many customers as possible

without depleting their indispensable beauty,

the prostitutes paid exorbitant prices to specialists

who stole the hair and fingernails off corpses

so that others could kiss and cherish them

as gifts that promised future happiness.

The Embrace

Geb, the earth god, loved

the sky goddess Nut.

When they embraced,

they pressed so desperately

against each other

that between them

nothing could exist.

So tightly did they writhe

together that even though

Nut was pregnant,

no space existed

where she could give birth

until her father Shu,

god of the air,

squeezed between

the lovers and held Nut

apart form Geb

creating the sky

into which all things

were created.

The Gift

The gift that most moved Jean-Jacques Rousseau

was presented by a messenger with a short note,

Make a vest of this—my white, silk under-petticoat—

so that something that has touched me so intimately

might rest always near to your heart.”

After kissing the note and the petticoat of his lover,

Rousseau wrote back, It is as if you have stripped yourself

naked before the entire world to clothe me.

I will wear your gift only to remind me how much

I long only for the time when once again we can undress.”













Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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