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You’ll like my big-girl outfit—
just make sure you get the signals right.
Once the collar’s set
and the cuffs, nod once to put ice in
my veins, twice and your kisses
turn to riddles, to favors punished.
Bedtime maxim vanished from the books,
under vows to make infraction sing.
Then harness me—for breaking—
and whisper to the docile dray
in heavy guise: uproot me here.
Pass quickly on the stairs
a girl undressing—you—
now hasten to the idol.
Do not take another step.
You’re free to go, if you wish
—it’s best at twilight—
and wait to be questioned.
I see it in the air,
permission somehow stolen,
I don’t understand who’s there
in my place, a star like a blueprint
spreading from nail to calf,
an image of the engine. Tell me.
Daniel Tiffany is the author of nine books of poetry and literary criticism. His latest collection of poems, Neptune Park (Omnidawn 2013), was selected by the Poetry Foundation as a notable book of 2013. His critical books include Infidel Poetics: Riddles, Nightlife, Substance (Chicago 2009) and My Silver Planet: A Secret History of Kitsch and Poetry (Johns Hopkins 2014), a nominee for the Pegasus Prize in Poetry Criticism. He has translated works by authors from French, Greek, and Italian. He is a winner of the Chicago Review Poetry Prize and a recipient of a Whiting Fellowship and of the Berlin Prize, awarded by the American Academy in Berlin. He lives in Los Angeles.
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