Rare Aphrodisiac

Christmas, 1999 / No. 3

Someday, darling,

all the tigers will be dead and gone

and the sun-dried pricks of our perfect killing machines,

salted and stored

in candy jars

at the Chinese pharmacy,

will be worth millions—

but Christ,

how they killed

on the banks of the Mekong,

bright leaves come alive to rip out the antelope’s throat, oh,

how they rolled out

the low growls

and blood-soaked roars

and savagely fucked by the river at dawn.

Perhaps this occurred to me

because there was a picture of a tiger

at the party where we met,

awash in pink martinis,

and the night,

as we stepped into it,


was purely mammalian, darling,

the temperature of blood,

and for days I could still see the purple

teeth marks you left in my shoulder.

They were my proof.

At least I had proof.


I can’t pinpoint exactly when it occurred to me,

but it did occur to me—

when the young men in white shirts

finally bag the last tiger,

when the wily beast rears up

against the leveling of rifles,

and the jungle stands still

pretending not to notice,

when the sad bastard

rumbles the last word for his kind,

a spiteful cry

that will go unrecorded,

when the triggers are squeezed

and the poor thing jitters into oblivion, biting

at the pain before the end, biting the slick holes

flamed into his coat,

as the young men watch the last tiger

violently try to escape his own brain, the killing brain

in paroxysms, at the last, at the end,

before they finally skin him, slice out

that long thin cock for a fortune,

it occurred to me—

when that happens,

the moment the tiger falls, that you might be beside me,

somewhere, consoling me

for some other,

unrelated sadness:

a dying friend, a bad prognosis, an accident,

something horrible,

and you would be the mate to my unhappiness,

but I’m sorry, darling, no, I can’t

remember exactly

when that might have occurred to me.