This poem is just a little long and hard to read in a browser window, but I promise as soon as you start reading it flows amazingly.  I heard this poem read during my junior year at the University of Mary Washington by poet Claudia Emerson of college and I, as of yet, have not found a poet whose work affected me so profoundly and so instantly as Steve Scafidi (of whose poetry I will undoubtedly be posting more once I type them up).  Enjoy!

The wish kiss, the list kiss, the take-it-or-leave-it
missed kiss we live forever without, the all-day,
the go-away, the closer-closer-you-cannot-
get-closer-but-try kiss, the I-don’t-know-
who-you-are-or-why kiss of new love
and the I-know-why-and-love-this kiss old
love practices in the hollow of a mattress,
the tender-kiss you give to a child quietly
on a forehead, the father-kiss rare and lonely
as diamonds and the mother-kiss gratefully
there and the uncle-kiss and the aunt-leaning-
the first kiss outside the house and the thrilling
taste hours later and the last kiss I cannot
imagine though it comes and the Judas-kiss
breath is giving and taking every second
and the tongue-roaming-troubadour-kiss,
the in-and-out kiss, the swirling-fuck-me-
now kiss and the faraway-you-are-gone kiss
I send to my dead and to my secret loves
lost in dream and miles, oh the moist, holy
stolen kiss of sudden inspiration one feels in
the wind or just inches from the beloved
face of an old friend that is mostly the breath
of words, and the kiss of X’s in long letters,
the treasure-kiss, the I’m-about-to-kiss-
you kiss the eyes leave invisible and tiny as
the blown-and-caught kiss but what is best
tastes mysterious and you want one all the time
and the pillow-kiss of loneliness prepares us
for the real-kiss that kills us later burying
our bodies in love’s long storybook kiss
living is and the telling-kiss, the wedding-
kiss and the money-kiss, the see-you-soon-
my moon kiss, the marathon, the tight-lipped
silly kiss, the nineteenth and eighteenth century
and so on back to the fishes kisses time tells,
each one different enough that Neanderthal
kissing was a world away from Victorian
lips and the twenty-first century goes
like this catalog now goes further and further,
and the old momentum-kiss that made us all
begin to begin is like the mattering-kiss, the bless-
kiss and the undressing all kissing gets to
leads to this and I imagine angry, wild Achilles
in the Archaean ship kissed his sword the way
today a pilot will kiss the hulk of a bomb before
it drops away and that kiss leads to the other
subtle one of the spark inside and the kiss of
earth that is decimating and the kiss my wife just
gave me on the back of my neck will stay here
all day like a tattoo and the easy kiss of rhyme
will also last all day so that if I could, I would
kiss whoever wanted to in the dark I long for
and miss, the yes-kiss, the bliss-kiss, the lovely-
lovely-this-kiss the world is right now, leaning to.

— “After Homer’s Catalog of Ships”, Steve Scafidi


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