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Steve Bellin

A Seduction

Tonightís thin sheet of rain
already has stopped before
the smell of water and oil
rises from the street, and

I begin to tell you
of the man who surprised me
from behind the mulberry,
his thumb tucked
like a squirt gun inside
his running shorts.

His whole body was wet
caught in the summer rain.
Any nine-year-old would have
fallen for it, asked
to stand watch while
he changed to the dry shorts

in the blue knapsack. He didnít
turn around, though, didnít cover
his red cock with his handsó
instead he fondled mine, pausing

before he curled my stubby fingers
around his slick tip. After
he began to moan and move
my small hand back and forth
inside his, I pulled away

and ran: not because
I wanted to, but somehow because
I was afraid Iíd grow
into the kind of man
Iíve become, turning
toward you now, having
gone to such lengths to curl you.

Steve Bellin

A Saint Sebastian by Bronzio

After the centurians have
tied your wrists, thin as a girlís,
behind your back and
bound you to the tree,
after theyíve stripped you
of your tunic, which lies white
as a bird on the grass beside youó

thatís when the archers
raise their arms in perfect
unison and pull back their bows.
Your eyes burn, coals in the fire:
no one but me, sitting
on a pine bench in the gallery
dares look into them.

At sixteen Iím in suspense, quivering
against the forestís shimmering green:
where is the cherub, due
to emerge from the clouds
with the martyrís palm? There,
where your eyes have rolled
upward, the sky is dull.

But beautiful, too: isnít this
the way desire comes upon us,
caught in the moment between
who we are and can never be again,
the knees just starting to buckle
as the arrows hurtle closer?

Steve Bellin

Red Riding Hood at Sixteen

Another wicker basket
brimming with fruit: this time,
she was too hungry to wait.

At noon Drew would break
into her great auntís
stiff Dutch house.
That diamond pendant
must be worth thousands.

Theyíd goó
to the city, the doctor,
the one with the secret instruments.

She was late. A stray cat
followed her into the woods,
hissing. She picked
and ate an orange,
the tart juice drying
like perfume on her neck.

In the clearing,
the old house stood
with its whitewashed door
pried open, but why
the strand of pearls broken

and rolling on the hallís
oak floor? Through the rooms,
up the stairs, nothing, no one:

her own
ransacked breath
abandoning her.

Steven Bellin is a native of Baltimore and was educated at the Universities of Maryland, Virginia and Southern Mississippi.  His poetry and interviews have appeared in William and Mary Review, Cream City Review, and Blip Magazine Archive.  He is currently at work on a book-length study of H.D.'s late poetry, and teaches at the University of Mississippi.

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