Subterfuge for the Unrequitable

“[O]nly the beloved can in this world bring about what our human
limitations deny, a total blending of two beings, a continuity between
two discontinuous creatures.  Hence love spells suffering for us in so
far as it is a quest for the impossible....”

               Georges Bataille, Erotism: Death and Sensuality


I will not repeat
I will not repeat
I will not repeat

no ordinary excavation
become ordinary
become craven

the elixir’s aftertaste
divines the elixir

it will not devolve
                                  [(h)e lie

                 exit here]

elixir: he licks her (skin) (ellipsis) (denial)

while her sears my


either the cleaving to
or cleaving from

argues an ague
for any hand that will

is to pray

whose secular world?
whose Iron Age?

whence touch
whence chasm

hands and hands hover at the whole


Descent might be merely the postponement of ascent

descent displacement or a return,
the abrupt shudder back into the self,
isolate for the cringe   Oh

Cutting daffodils will not
A call: Other?   
Oh, here you are   Projected   And ever as


your voice through the phone
          when I a girl of eight or nine   
                    why have you gathered them into
the desk lamp’s small pool  
the female spills spills
wet hands revel or shake   
          did you have an imaginary  
          the cornfields stretch into
wet with saliva and   
          Mandy when I was eight or ten the cache of
                     send any others
                eight to eleven or twelve
your voice did you have
                    send them when the light spills
after you read the poem
hands in the small   
           the cornfields by my house I was eight or nine
                    a cache by definition does not leak or lose
                         lay down       
     why did you bring else and other
don’t wrench
          alone in the stalks except for
          what did you have          in that field
                     sacrosanct alone and not alone
                     alone and not alone you have that reserve


I scale

with a gaze

for the ascetic
for the un-

toward the moss
green (iris)

toward is away
stained glass

(too high)
(too holy)

I scale
for the blur

in incomplete

satis, enough
not yet not near

but my lips          oooooooooh

the cusp is always air


ether & ephebe
odi et amo

et amo
in the dissipating

enunciates touch
wrist & nape

lips for
the summons

(not to purse)
(not to part)

masculate toward
(that ether)

littlebeard my other
toward our

ether, ephebe


sleet hiss instantiates all walls
horas ad dies ad
to touch is to torque the familiar or

the familiar heightens
perlucence death-borne the brief
hairs along the curve of your ear

sleet susurrus


thigh to waist
azure all thinking

down the arc-stroke
up cuts the slow

cuts disappearing furrows into
the soil of skin

of Being
that azure infinite eyes & ____________



ante maret terras et quod tegit omnia caelum
before the sea and the lands and the sky that covers all things

but itself the blur
of blooming clover

from the train
& trained eye

Ovid claims ante
the parcelled temporality of

thirteen hours later
you as if and so

here in the swash invisible

quem dixere Chaos


lip to thigh break

into our indivisible

oak trunk wheel to axle

breathe to gasp the tumbling

clock’s a priori but

given rib tibia cranium

under the skin the muscle

around the marrow inside

the bone that yet palm to

to hip into all dishevelled

wandering stars

"Subterfuge for the Unrequitable" originally appeared in Oasis and as the title poem of a chapbook published by Potes and Poets in 1998.

Originally from Normal, Illinois, carrieetter moved from southern California to England in 2001 and was appointed a lecturer in creative writing at Bath Spa University in 2004.  Her poems have appeared in The New Republic, Poetry Review, Shearsman, The Times  Literary Supplement, and elsewhere. Her blog is at
back next