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(Poetry) Jamie Brisick Reads Carnal Apple, Woman Filled!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Sex and love and beauty, in audio, by the noted author Jamie Brisick… 

(A note from Jamie Brisick)

I grew up among sexism and misogyny. Not from my father — he’s a first-rate respecter of women — but from my surfer pals. In 8th grade, Ronnie Merkel skated up to me on the basketball court. He grinned sardonically.

“Where you been?” I asked.

He pulled his hand from his OP corduroy shorts pocket, brought his fingers to my nostrils.

“Finger fucking!” he said, and burst into cruel laughter.

When I was 15 and starting to feel things, Steve, a 24-year-old who I looked up to, told me to Never, ever, whatever you do don’t do it! Never tell a girl you love her, for that will be the end of you, Slick! (He called me Slick.) When I was 19 and trying to find my way as a pro surfer, one of my heroes declared in a Surfer magazine interview that “boards and broads don’t mix.”

In the late-‘80s I read the book Diary of a Genius by Salvador Dali. In it he regards his wife, Gala, with tremendous love and admiration and respect. I appreciated this. I recognized a similar yearning in myself, though I lacked the courage or the trust or the right girlfriend to express it.

A few years later I saw Il Postino, the movie about the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a life — writing love poems from high up on a hill. For most of my twenties and thirties I gushed to great effect. I was fearless with my heart. But I have since become more cynical, more terrified. Most nights I shiver myself to sleep.

But occasionally it comes and washes over me, unfettered, conditionless Garden of Eden love. It’s in these moments that I mentally rehearse Valentine’s Day. We’re sitting on the stoop, the late afternoon sky is clear. I present my girl with a lap-sized, heart-shaped box. Chocolate, she thinks. She unties the bow, peels off the lid, and out fly a dozen Purple Sapphire butterflies, imported from West Bengal, India.

 

Carnal Apple, Woman Filled, Burning Moon (Pablo Neruda)

Carnal apple, Woman filled, burning moon,

dark smell of seaweed, crush of mud and light,

what secret knowledge is clasped between your pillars?

What primal night does Man touch with his senses?

Ay, Love is a journey through waters and stars,

through suffocating air, sharp tempests of grain:

Love is a war of lightning,

and two bodies ruined by a single sweetness.

Kiss by kiss I cover your tiny infinity,

your margins, your rivers, your diminutive villages,

and a genital fire, transformed by delight,

slips through the narrow channels of blood

to precipitate a nocturnal carnation,

to be, and be nothing but light in the dark.