Salome: Canto TwobyMawrGorshin©
Immodest, exhibitionistic women may display
Their nakedness in public to attract young satyrs
For nymphomaniac thrills.
They quake with pleasure at how men's distracted eyes will stray
From their more pressing, urgent, all-consuming matters
To view the girls' soft hills.
To understand this scandalous behaviour isn't hard:
These women seek to slake their so insatiable thirst
For sex's intoxication.
Or maybe, long ago, they were emotionally scarred
By rape; and now see sex and love as--from the first--
In hopeless separation.
Now, when Salome shows herself in public in the nude,
It's not to nourish someone's satyriasis:
Her plan's more radical.
She wants to pull men's lofty thoughts down into dungeons crude
And animalistic; she would tell professors this:
"Take a sabbatical,
Leave all your specious speculations and indulge with me."
If she could tempt such learned men, she'd have success
In mangling education.
Much better yet, if men of firm religiosity
Could be perverted by her curves and crave excess,
She'd crush civilization.
Salome chose to be incarnate in a sultry blonde
Who lived in a most seedy, wretched neighbourhood
One day not long ago.
There was a priest who came here often, of whom she was fond:
He hoped to drive the mafia out for the people's good,
And rid them of their woe.
But little did this John-the-Baptist type know that the soul
Of Herod would soon enter his so gentle frame
And make him lose his head.
Salome would exploit this weakness to achieve her goal
Of staining this good man of God with carnal shame--
His reputation, dead.
She, looking through her window, saw him walking down the street
Towards her house; and she promptly removed her clothes
To show her better features.
He rang her doorbell, and assumed that he would simply meet
Someone to help him fight the mob (Salome loathes
Such high-aspiring creatures).
Instead, he saw a fully naked woman open the door,
And calmly smile at him. Bewildered and wide-eyed,
He kept his eyes from dropping
Below her shoulders; though his heavy eyes wanted to pour
All over her. She asked, "You want to come inside?"
The John in him was stopping
His tempted flesh; and yet the waking Herod prodded him.
He went in with her, covering his priestly collar.
What could be more ironic
Than blushing at your clothes; meanwhile, a woman, on a whim,
Insouciantly greets you in the nude? Sin's squalor
Did nothing so daemonic!
She brought him in her living room where he sat on a chair.
She stood before him, her behind right by his face.
She stretched her legs out wide
In the shape of the letter Lambda. She bent over there,
Revealing every orifice. "I like this space
More than my upper side.
Don't you agree?" she said to him. But he, blushing, demurred,
And turned his head away. He said, "Ma'am, why are you
Behaving in this way?
Have you no shame? That I'm a priest you surely have inferred.
I'm here to help your neighbourhood, and not to do
What base procurers may."
"I'm nude and not ashamed," she said. "Yet I am also shrewd,
Unlike those mindless girls you see in movies made
For lecherous young men."
"If so, then is it necessary to stand in such a crude
Pose? Put your clothes on! Why you're stooping to degrade
Yourself is beyond my ken."
"Debasement? No!" Salome said. "This is my subtlety,
To be so blatant; for, before you sits my head--
My bottom is my top.
My cyclops eye and goatee'd mouth are all you need to see.
The cunning words this pinkish mouth has used has led
All men to it. They stop
"Doing their duties, and turn into sayers from its tropes.
The brown eye execrates the pious man, tempts him
And makes him want to pierce
It, like Ulysses did to the sea god's son. Have you such hopes?
Can you out-wit the Cyclops, or are you too prim?"
"Oh, how your wiles are fierce!
"How you assail me with temptation," said the trembling priest.
He looked down at his crucifix, but her two fingers
Reached back and tickled his chin
To make him look back up at what the Saint John in him least
Wanted to see. Yet even in pastors, Herod lingers
And waits for a chance to sin.
For most of us, an angel and a fiend rest on each shoulder;
But those opposing spirits were in a different place
To crave the priest's attention,
Over and below his head. Salome, getting ever bolder,
Had set the devil above to raise the priest's red face
And see what he'd not mention
To boys and girls in Sunday school. The angel hovered under
To discipline his wayward eyes: they'd gaze at the Cross
That hung below his neck.
These spirits made his nodding head feel as if torn asunder.
His soul, a boat at sea, on stormy waves would toss.
Would God had put a speck
Of dirt, a mote, a log or a beam into each eye of his!
Would God's amazing grace, that helps the blind to see,
Reversed this for his sake!
Resistance would be easy then. Ironic how it is
That any other man with her would dream to be,
And never want to wake--
Especially the celibate, who've never known the flesh
Of woman, and are bursting with repressed desires:
They'd jump at any chance
To have Salome. Yet the priest still would not taste the fresh
Fruit of her body. He was putting out the fires
Of his lust's flickering dance
When she decided it was time to make temptation stronger.
She sat down on his lap: her buttocks were a masseur
That gave no relaxation
To the intended target. There, the ache grew tense, and longer.
No, not at ease, but at attention: this was her
Hot march to his damnation.
"No more," he said. "I'm like Saint Anthony put to the test."
"It's good for you," she answered. "Tests strengthen belief,
Safe cloistering does not."
Just then, she got up, turned around and pushed a gentle breast
Against his face. This sensual pleasure gave him grief,
For he felt his soul rot,
Corrupted by this succubus. Though passive, he made no
Attempt to stop her. He thought of how he had prayed
To God to feel His touch
So many times, but never felt it. Now, him being so
Completely overwhelmed by wild Salome, swayed
By wantonness with such
A gleeful shamelessness, he wished he'd lacked the faculty
Of feeling anything, be it pain or pleasure. Thus
He'd be securely numb,
Protected from the promptings that lead to iniquity.
Remarkable it is how herds of lecherous
Goats would so gladly come
And graze on sweet Salome's fields of grass, valleys and hills;
And even faithful clergymen whose chastity
Could bear no more constraint
Might, in a lapse of self-control, indulge in a night of thrills
And tearfully repent the next day; but not he,
Whose shaky faith did taint
His otherwise exemplary, unspotted reputation.
His doubts about God's presence made him struggle more
To keep from doing wrong.
Salome, yet again, chose to intensify temptation.
Embracing his face with those Cyclops cheeks, the whore
Would make his lust too strong
To be resisted. Thus, this Polyphemus would devour
The holy man in him, and take the fallen vicar
On an odyssey of sex.
Although the Cyclops eye and mouth were foul-smelling, their power
Over him was their crude, human realism--quicker
To take men on lewd treks
Than the synthetic, cold aesthetics of models, or film stars.
No potent perfume matches the aphrodisiac
Of the smell of human flesh.
The priest tried to ignore this by remembering Jesus' scars,
But this requires a strength of faith that he did lack.
While he enjoyed the fresh,
Exotic scent of incense at the altar, he'd have cut
His nose off (to spite his faith's inertia, so it seemed)
And dodged this rank temptation.
Lascivious men would lend their noses for a good sniff, but
This man, whose faith was not much better, rather dreamed
Of a scentless salvation.
Again, Salome sensed his meek reluctance to succumb
To her enticements. So, she chose to heat his blood
By giving him a taste
Of where the goats graze, in the grass! Her boldness stuck him dumb!
The wetness wasn't morning dew: more like a flood
It flowed. The man's heart raced!
He thought of how he loved to drink the wine and eat the Host:
They are God's nourishment for all His faithful flock
Yet he'd give up his gustatory sense, along with the ghost,
So he would not be swayed by her--such was his shock
At being so ill-fated.
Although the priest indeed was virtuous, with a good heart,
And known in the community as an upright man,
He suffered hidden doubts
About his calling. Skepticism tore his soul apart,
Since he could not feel God's presence any more than
An atheist. His bouts
With dark despair were countered with his rigid self-control:
If he succeeded at resisting carnal sin,
Perhaps that was God's aid.
Salome, though, was shaking his already unsure soul,
And he so dreaded that if he were to give in
All faith from him would fade.
Therefore, although for some a temporary fall from grace
Could be amended with long prayers bathed in tears,
For him this could not be.
Morality, an absolute for him, showed him God's face
Where prayer gave him nothing: it allayed his fears
He said to her, "If you desire the ecstasy of love,
Why not be open to God's love? Receive His peace--
A bliss that's only His."
She said, "What lies below intrigues me more than what's above.
Admit it, Father. After death all things will cease:
The body's all there is."
And after that, Salome plunged her tongue deep in his ear:
It rolled and frolicked there. She nibbled on his lobe,
And like a kitten, purred.
He shuddered less at what he felt than those words he did hear:
The pleasure shocked the priest more than the pain that Job
So patiently endured.
He wished he had a knife so he could hack his ears off his head,
And stab his eardrums so that he could live in a world
Of sinless peace and silence.
For in a world without the senses he would feel no dread
Of yielding to low urges, and thus being hurled
Into Hell's pit of violence.
He didn't fear the Bible's Hell, that fiery afterlife:
What horrified him more was that real Hell on earth--
The terror of despair.
For doubting God means there's no meaning to our worldly strife,
Since senseless sorrow leads to life without much worth,
And suicide waits there.
Salome, though, preferred this carefree sensuality.
She didn't need a reason for all of our pain,
She just avoided it--
And pleasure would replace it. She still tried to make him see,
Hear, taste, touch, and smell rather than busy his brain
With its redundant wit.
Still, he was not responding, so she did augment his doubt
By asking how we're saved: "If good deeds aren't enough--
But rather, faith instead--
Is not belief a good deed, and our redemption's not about
Christ's death, but our own efforts? We must walk the rough
Road from the ever dead
"Alone? And if the naked gardeners were without flaws
When God created them, how did they fall from grace?
Free will will not suffice
To make men sin, so how did that so perfect couple cause
Themselves to drop from pure perfection and abase
Themselves with lowly vice?
"If I am right, was not the world corrupt right from the start?
If this is so, why should we trust Christ's restoration
Of a grace men never had?"
Salome's trenchant words caused quite a quaking in his heart,
For now he wished he lacked the gift of contemplation
And thus, instead, were mad:
This way he simply could love God with no burden of reason,
And not have to deflect objections from those who
Reject belief in Him.
He envied the naive belief of those who pray with ease in
Small towns without the disillusion of bright new
Ideas that bedim
The soul in search of peace. Salome saw how her words worked
On that poor priest. She showed again the Cyclops's face,
A perfect metaphor
For her so bestial, upside-down world view. No longer irked
By her enticements and resigned to a fall from grace,
The priest repressed no more
His dark desires, and started smothering the Cyclops's lips
With eager kisses. He stared straight at that brown eye
As if it were a door
To a world of reversed virtue and vice. His fingertips
Examined that uncanny place of birth, to spy
What he hadn't before.
"What you see is the real, dark mystery of human life.
There are no souls, no spirits, or bright angels who
Teach us of divine love.
There's only fleshly physicality, and a world rife
With pleasures for the taking, if you'd only view
Below before above,"
With such inverted reasoning, Salome sermonized.
It was as though this whorish homily came from
That Polyphemus face,
Instead of from her head. No longer being scandalized,
The fallen priest continued letting himself come
Down to deeper disgrace;
Since there was a young man who, by the window, had in hand
A camera to capture this moment of shame
And let the city know
What this once upright man of God was doing. The mob planned
To have Salome snare him here so they could blame
Him with falling so low
When he was meant to be much higher. That young man would get
A clear shot of his face and collar so one could
Identify him as
A man of the Spirit spiralling downward. He would have sweat
Great drops of blood to know that the whole city would
See him this way. One has
No concept of how close the bitter end can be when in
The middle of such dizzying, intoxicating,
Salome felt a thrill of pleasure knowing all her skin
Would be displayed online, all while humiliating
So humbly hoped for by the priest and all his faithful flock.
He caught her winking at the cameraman, then he
Woke from his sordid slumber
Of numbing impudicity. He got up with a shock
And looked behind him, where the camera eye could see
His face. Thus to encumber
The priest with such a weighty shame would be too much to bear.
He raced up to the roof, and threw himself head first
To the ground, bloody and dead.
Salome laughed at this new conquest, saying, "Saints, beware:
By making all the best of you become the worst,
I'll make you lose your head."
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