Barbara Daniels

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The Harlot

I worked the alleys robbing drunks.Artwork by Gene McCormick
A man’s mouth twitched and he came to me
though his palace was twelve miles off. 

He dropped his belt on the floor—lapis lazuli, gold,
carnelian—cold jewels. He chose me to tempt
a wild man, to lay my clothing on the ground. 

This man had never washed. He didn’t know
language or a woman’s body. These
I taught him. I gave him half my clothes. 

He loved the violent, willful king instead of me.
Together they killed a screaming bull.
Blood spattered from the bull’s right thigh.

Worms crawl through the atria of my wild
man’s body. Dark lightning strikes through me.
The gate of the mountain will not close.

I’m back in the alleys working for coins.
Where do the dead eat food like the living?
Where does dust turn back into men?


Barbara Daniels' chapbooks Black Sails and Quinn and Marie were recently published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas in Pueblo, Colorado, and Rose Fever: Poems is available from WordTech Press. Her poetry has appeared in Mid-American Review, Ars Medica, Solstice, The Literary Review, and many other journals. She earned an MFA from Vermont College and received two Individual Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. With her husband, David I. Daniels, she wrote English Grammar, published by HarperCollins.