Venus Descending

Dorothea Tanning-Voltage 1942
Dorothea Tanning-Voltage 1942

Watching from the balcony of the hotel room
as the heavens are roused from the operating table
after a long coma induced by a junkie anaesthetist
the wild eyed planets are out of sync, unaligned
dying stars radiate their baleful influence
motionless waves frozen smooth as panes of glass
we intuitively understand what this stillness signifies
so let’s down this bottle, the last of the champagne
negligently toss the empties onto the street
step inside, close the curtains, turn off the lights
hastily fumble with underclothes and clasps
you’re needling kisses are more suggestive
of bite marks and deep wounding scratches
that infect immediately with a vivid fighting fever
hopefully there is time enough left to stake
out exclusive territories of mutual antagonism
time enough for you to taunt me with infidelities
for me to tease you with my wanton indifference
to tie each other up in exquisitely painful knots
bound together by our hatred occasioned by passion
that exhilarates to the point of total exhaustion
let the world go to its doom, why pretend to care
about some misty future when we have this moment
a moment of sleek skins pressing each other slickly
a moment of merging mouths breathing in fumes
why lose this moment stretching towards eternity
when before we were alone on separate islands
calling out to each other as we stumbled and fell
over roots hidden in the treacherous undergrowth
this moment when we have discovered each other
if you move over a little and lie back I will continue
we still have time enough for one last big fight
before we fuck again, die a little death before
the grand operatic finale scored by some bombast
and as I repose supine I see you as Venus descending
with a movement fluid yet infinitely heart breaking
flaring up with a sudden intensity that I cannot contain
even as I hold down your head and grab the rope
of your tangled unruly tresses flowing over my thighs
and at long last I let the universe and everything
dissolve in the flash of illuminating blinding white light.

You have always been here

From Angel Series, Roma, September 1977 -Francesca Woodman
From Angel Series, Roma, September 1977-Francesca Woodman

After much consideration,
I have come to the conclusion,
That you are not
Who you say you are.
You have always been here,
Not a visitor seeking shelter
From the winter’s storm,
This is your residence
Right here, with Hell
Just around the bend
In the depth-less sunless valley,
With Heaven just a vague rumour,
A distant, insincere promise:
This gimcrack structure,
Aging and weathered
In urgent need of repair
With its endless corridors
And cracked silvered mirrors
A dull pastiche of infinity,
Home to dismal phantoms,
Downwardly mobile angels,
Degraded coarse Demiurges,
Is your eternal abode
Where you wearily survey
With a monstrous apathy,
The chaos of creation,
The loop da loops of time,
This maze of memories.

Chambre Close

Bettina-Rheims-Chambre-Close-4th July 1991 Paris
Bettina-Rheims-Chambre-Close-4th July 1991 Paris

Chambre Close is the collaboration between the writer Serge Bramly and the photographer Bettina Rheims. The elegant and cultured tone of the confessions of Mister X, an amateur photographer and voyeur who lures models back to shabby hotel rooms to engage in acts of ‘visual adultery’ is contrasted against the clinical detachment and raw intimacy of Rheims colour images.

Rheims is justly renowned for her studies of female nudes. As she herself notes, “I love flesh. I am a photographer of the skin.”

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